Managing Mistakes

Teaching Children and Adolescents to Manage Mistakes

We want our children and teenagers to perform well, and so do they.  However, the pressure of perfectionism can lead to the fear of making mistakes.  When there is so much pressure to perform well, people (adults and children alike) often resist taking on challenges and growth opportunities.  We lose a sense of enjoyment.  We have to learn to manage mistakes.

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Mistakes are part of life and especially childhood.  They are part of the school and youth sport experience and often result from taking chances, stretching limits, and learning.  Children who feel comfortable taking on challenges and making mistakes are more resilient.  We can teach children [and ourselves] how to manage mistakes appropriately.

Learning Experiences

Resilient children tend to view mistakes as opportunities for learning while those who are not hopeful often experience mistakes as an indication that they are failures.  Adults can help set and evaluate expectations.  They can emphasize that mistakes are not only accepted, but also expected and tell children that are loved even when they make mistakes.  Adults serve as models for dealing with mistakes and can demonstrate how to manage mistakes well.

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Develop a mistake ritual

A mistake ritual is an actual physical motion that the athlete performs to signal moving on and re-focusing.  The athlete may say also say something such as “brush it off” or “flush it.” The ritual helps the athlete leave the mistake in the past and focus on the present.

To learn more about mistake rituals, watch this video.

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Teaching children to manage mistakes helps them build resilience.  It allows them to take on challenges with a more open mindset.  Managing mistakes properly allows them to perform better and enjoy their learning.

See the American Psychological Association’s Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers for further information.

Summit Performance Consulting LLC works with students and athletes of all ages to improve performance.  Get more mentally tough!  Contact us for more information at or 561-325-8363.

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