Kids make mistakes just as much as adults do and the sooner they can start learning from mistakes, the better off they will be in the long run. Considering the roles of a parent, two duties come most commonly to mind: the role of protector, and the role of disciplinarian. After all, with decades more experience in the ways of the world, it seems logical that we would want to do everything in our power to protect our children and, since their actions can potentially harm them or others, we feel it equally important to dole out punishment when they stray from the path. But is there such a thing as being too good at this game?
The world, fundamentally, runs on a system of cause and effect. For every action, there is a consequence, be it positive or negative. And learning these patterns is of vital importance for young minds, because, sooner than we parents would like to imagine, they will be young adults out there finding their own way and will no longer have the benefit of our immediate protection.
A child who is told constantly what to do, where to go, how to think and act, is much less likely to form logic skills in regards to their environment and how it affects them. Likewise, a child who is punished for stepping outside the lines will become more and more dependent on a parent for everything.
This is not to say that we should let our children stick their hands in a fire so that they know what it is to be burned. But allowing a child to occasionally make a mistake, without being told what they did wrong, and without the threat of punishment, can be greatly beneficial to their growth. For their own good, children must occasionally be allowed to fail, so that they can form the connections in their minds between action and consequence.
Instead of reminding your child to finish their homework in the evening, perhaps mention it as you drop them off to school in the morning. The panic of having such an imminent deadline or embarrassment is far more likely to form a lasting lesson in their mind. Instead of nagging them to put their bikes or skateboards away, perhaps arrange for these items to spend a week in a neighbour’s shed before mysteriously reappearing. The pain of thinking they have lost a prized possession through their own neglect will teach them to value them and take care of them without parental guidance.
Again, the point of this approach is not to hurt your child, but rather to
stimulate logic skills and responsibility in them, so that they can avoid real trouble later. The more they are allowed to think for themselves when they are young, the easier and better they will be at it when it really counts.