Commentary by Kelly Pfeiffer
These chapters remind me of earlier readings and the words my father always told me. "Make new mistakes".
Permission to fail is hard for parents give. This world is a competitive place. Be first, be better, be perfect. While I was given permission to screw up and forgiveness when I did it. I often wonder if I was the same with my daughter. She was fearless and has become fearful, as the people in her world have assaulted her, teachers made her feel "less than" when she wasn't reading by third grade. Did I contribute to her caution in approaching new things which high expectations and a fear of her failure?
This is not a "new" issue, but maybe has become more prevalent, as the book talks about, with the empty gratification issues around the "self~esteem" movement. When I was in high school, 35 years ago, a group of my friends had a motto "Second is as good as last". I have ~never~ forgotten it. I was thirteenth in my class with twelve Merit Scholars. Did I fail??? I was ~thirteenth~ in a class of 400.
The book talks about getting a blue ribbon for just showing up. Participation ribbons instead of prizes for winning. If we don't have first, second and third, how do we teach kids how to lose? How do we teach them to win gracefully. There must be a balance here. Competition is good, but understanding that failing at a "thing" is not failing as a person. I love Kelly Pfeiffers words "mistakes are a wonderful opportunity to learn".
The messages recieved are stamped forever. I remember a talk show host discussing the effects of telling a child they were "bad". He said it takes a hundred "atta boy's" to make up for up for one "bad boy". Do these messages prompt us to use the words "Good Job!" for fear of squashing self esteem?
In all the quality continuing education I have participated in over the years, the good news is the resounding message has been, specific positive encouragement is the best way to foster growth and self esteem.
I am reminded again today, to use real, thoughtful, specific praise and encouragement and give my little charges permission to make mistakes. I will keep asking them "what did you learn from that?"