Connection, Not Blame: 3 Tips to Help Kids With Mistakes and Motivation

Everyone makes mistakes, and nobody wants to feel guilt or shame when it happens. When we’re overwhelmed by the negative feelings associated with being blamed, it makes feeling motivated to learn or change super hard. Pretty obvious things to say, right? Right.

The thing is, as parents, we often forget these truths when it comes to our own kids’ mistakes and motivation challenges. Of course all kids make mistakes. And of course all children act, well, childish sometimes. And yes, when that happens, we parents can feel frustrated, angry, and stressed. Unfortunately, it’s at those moments that it becomes all too easy to start playing the blame-game.

Maybe we just speak before we think. Or maybe we speak out of habit. Whatever the case. It’s okay. We make mistakes, too. There’s no blame here. 🙂 However, now’s the time to retrain ourselves.

Rather than pointing the finger at our kids and using a ME vs. YOU approach, we can embrace an US vs. THE PROBLEM approach. When we get on the same team as our children, we invite cooperation and collaboration, and we foster motivation. Together, we figure out a solution to the problem and keep our esteem, joy, and peace intact. 

Check out these 3 examples of ways to consciously shift away from the blame game!

Move away from blame, and toward connection.

1. Move from, “How many times do I have to tell you to clean up?” toward, “Let’s see how quickly we can put away the Legos.”

Sure, your kid pulled out all the toys and had a grand time playing. Chances are, you didn’t make the mess. But do we really need to remind our kids of all the times they failed to act responsibly in the past? 

Instead, turn clean-up time – or any “chore” – into playtime. Sing songs, tell jokes and make conversation. With grace, compassion and understanding, we connect with our kids and reinforce our love. And we make work fun, which, let’s face it, is the language of motivation for kids. A little play mixed in with the work entice children to want to clean up on their own in the future.   

2. Move from, “You’re making me late!” toward, “I want us to get there on time, do you think we can do that?”

We’ve all felt the rush of needing to be somewhere on time. If you’re like me, you feel it every. single. day. And usually, it’s our kiddos who start dragging precisely when we need them to rush. In the moment, it’s easy to take out our frustration on our children and blame them for our tardiness.

Using “I” statements (as opposed to “you” statements) allows us to take ownership of our schedule and removes the shame from our child’s shoulders. Plus, asking for help invites our children to cooperate and collaborate. Together, we can reach our goal of being on time. 

3. Move from, “I can’t believe I wasted so much money on your tutoring,” toward “Why don’t we read the questions together and see what we’re missing?”

Whether it’s tutoring, private coaching, or piano lessons, we’re sometimes willing to give a little extra so that our kids can learn and succeed. And if we don’t see the kind of progress we’d hoped for, or appreciation for our effort, it’s easy to feel frustrated. But is it really their fault?

Remember that our kids also want to succeed, and we get more cooperation and create feelings of goodwill when we sit down and tackle things together. Be curious, ask compassionate questions, and show genuine interest in the answers. Are they missing a connection with their tutors, teachers, or coaches? Are there other ways your kids would be more comfortable learning? Maybe check in with those tutors or coaches, as well. The pros may have solutions to help our children succeed. 

As parents, we’re still learning, too. Just like we expect them to grow as humans, we should always expect to grow ourselves as parents. Looking for more resources to help you along your journey? Consider a membership to the GoZen! Summit Library! More than 100 experts share advice on helping kids through anxiety, motivation, sleep challenges, anger, and more.


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