The challenge with an "I messed up" moment is that kids often panick as they try to deal with the issue. The problem is…when you feel stressed and panicky the logical reasoning part of your brain works less efficiently – making it very difficult to think straight.
That is why it is so important to have an "I messed up" coach. You can be the kind of parent your kid turns to when they've messed up. As a parent, you can help them calm down, think straight, and put together a plan to deal with the situation. As parents, being an "I messed up" coach for our kids it's important to understand what makes an effective coach — parents may decide that a spouse, an aunt, or a grandparent might be a more effective coach.
Here are six characteristics of an effective "I messed up" coach:
1. First, a good "I messed up" coach must provide a "safe space" for the truth. Kids often hide the truth because they are afraid of getting into trouble. Let them know that when it comes to mistakes, you believe in accountability (taking care of the problem) versus punishment. Your kids must be able to trust that they can come to you without being judged, lectured to, criticized, or punished.
2. Second, a good "I messed up" coach must remain calm under stress. If your child comes to you, it is important that you remain calm about the situation. This can calm them down, and help them think straight again. Remind them that they just made a mistake – it's an opportunity to fix it, learn from it and let it go.
3. Third, a good "I messed up" coach helps brainstorm solutions. Help them brainstorm options for handling the situation so that they can handle it with responsibility and integrity. Once you've discussed the options together, let your child decide the best course of action. This helps them take responsibility for the solution and helps them build confidence in their ability to make decisions. Your role is to provide encouragement and support.
4. Fourth, a good "I messed up" coach is trustworthy. It is important to build trust with your children. If you say they won't be punished for mistakes, then follow through. If they ask you to keep something confidential and you agree to that, then stay true to your word. When children trust you to provide a safe place for them, they will come to you with their problems.
5. Fifth, a good "I messed up" coach provides accountability – not rescue. It is important that you let your kids manage their own problems. Learning how to handle mistakes teaches kids to be responsible for their actions. It also builds strong self-confidence and enhances self-esteem as they learn they can handle anything that comes their way.
6. Finally, a good "I messed up" coach turns the situation into a learning opportunity. Once the mistake has been managed, sit down with your child to discuss what happened and what he learned from it. This will encourage him to do things differently in the future. Remember to discuss the importance of letting it go. Let them know that "we are not our mistakes and hanging onto them doesn't serve us
If you're the kind of parent who is ready to be your children's "I messed up" coach, I suggest two things. First, have a conversation with them and explain the benefits of having an "I messed up" coach. Share with them the six characteristics of an effective coach so they understand what to expect and then ask if they would like for you to be their coach. Let them choose. Second teach your children how to manage mistakes so they understand how you will work with them when they have an "I messed up" moment.