How to Talk to Your Children About Making Mistakes

Blog Posts, For Families

The Big Sister Experience is a wellbeing and life education program that works with tween and teen girls and their families to inspire resilient and confident women of tomorrow.

Whether during school programs, or family workshops, the concept of making mistakes is often raised in some form. Parents desperate for their children not to make the same mistakes they made, and schools eager for their students to take safe risks and make mistakes to foster resilience and growth.

The students themselves, often in an anxious state, desperate to please, afraid of failure or judgement, unable to fully explore their own identity. So where does The Big Sister Experience stand on mistake making?

No parent wants to see their child in pain, and it’s normal to want to protect our loved ones. But there are more lessons to be learnt in failure, and we are often doing our young people a massive disservice by not allowing them to make their own mistakes.

Instead of preventing them from making mistakes, here are our ideas on how to best support your children to further their resilience and nurture a healthy relationship with failure.


Vulnerability is key to connection

Whether working with girls, parents or educators, one of our core keys to nurturing happy girls is creating authentic, genuine and honest relationships where youths feel safe seeking support and guidance.

To create these relationships, we advocate being completely vulnerable. In our young people’s eyes, being vulnerable allows us to appear relatable. It fosters connection as we are seen as human, fragile, imperfect and thus, normalising the rollercoaster journey our tweens and teens are facing.

At any opportunity, talk to your kids about your mistakes and your disappointments.

Allow them to see you as a real person, instead of someone who is perfect, has it all together, and could never relate to what they are feeling and experiencing. Start the dialogue and promote open communication.

The more you push for specific information, the more teens may repel. Instead, spend that time building a space in which you yourself are leading by example in sharing the stories from your own teen years, or your current day to day life.

A result of this authentic connection often sees them naturally opening up about the things you as a parent are anxious about.


Allow your kids to make mistakes

As painful as it can be to stand by silently, surely you can remember the pain that came with some of your biggest mistakes, and the growth and lessons that then stemmed from that.

It is the human to condition to grow, and just like the growing pains our young people experience, there is bound to be some pain synonymous with the growth they are experiencing.

Share the consequences of your own mistakes, and how they served you, and what you learnt from them. Not as a ‘don’t do this because…’ but more of a ‘I did this, and this is what happened…’ Again, opening up the dialogue and
removing judgement.

Often in our school workshops, we share our own mistakes, and the ramifications we faced, understanding that the developmental stage of the teen brain often means these consequences were not even considered when engaging in certain behaviours.

Instead of telling, try showing. Remember what it was like at that age, figuring your way, and trying new things in a bid to establish your own sense of identity. Understand that it is through experimentation, risk and mistakes that our young
people begin to form their own sense of self. Support this journey, and guide them on their individual path.


Adopt a gratitude mindset

There is no question that parents always want the best for their kids. But removing all risk of mistakes is not only impossible with our children, but detrimental.

Instead, focus on giving them a soft place to land if and when they have made a mistake. We like to focus on a gratitude mindset which means focusing on what we have, instead of what we lack.

In terms of making mistakes, this means reflecting on what’s happened and being thankful for the lessons learned, or the growth experienced. Start leading by example with this when you open the dialogue around the mistakes that you made yourself.

What lessons came of it? How did you grow or change as a person because of it? What did it feel like at the time, were you afraid, embarrassed? Did that in turn become a mistake you never repeated? Or did it take a few times to sink in?


There is no question that making mistakes is part of growing up. This can be hard for parents to watch, especially mistakes that bring immense pain or hurt.

But focusing on the lessons and finding the gratitude is a great way to nurture a healthy relationship with failure for your children. A healthy relationship with failure means that we recognise that growth and lessons that come with making
mistakes, and as such, strengthen resilience.

The Big Sister Experience believe that these 5 strategies are far more practical and helpful way to nurture our youth through mistake making.