Mom: The horses got out. Do you know anything about it?
Me: No. What happened?
Mom: Someone left the gate unlatched. Are you sure you didn’t have anything to do with it? Weren’t you the last one through?
Me: I was but I latched it. Honest.

I didn’t latch the gate. I was eleven years old and scared to admit I made I poor choice. My mom knew what I did. She wanted to believe me but she knew I made a mistake and was now lying about it.

I had to admit I was wrong.

I apologized for my mistake. Next time I thought twice about locking the gate and definitely did not lie about it again.

How many times do we catch our children in a mistake? How do we react? In anger? Frustration? Do we yell?

The way we respond to our children’s mistakes today will impact the way they handle mistakes in the future.

We need to decide if we are going to react or respond. What’s the difference? When we react we let our emotions guide our response. When we respond we use logic and natural consequences to be our guide.

I react by default. Sometimes I react before I even know the whole story or the truth of a situation.

A better way to respond is to ask follow up questions to your child’s statements. Or give a noncommittal “oh I see.” The less you speak the more they will say. Of course, this depends on your child’s age and severity of the mistake. For a toddler, help them to put into words what happened. Give simple instructions and consequences calmly. “When we throw our cars, they get put away.” And then calmly follow through with the consequence.

This is easier said than done. I’m notorious for saying too much to the toddler and the teen. I’m working on it. Lots of grace needed. For me and for them.


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