Help your child learn how to get over mistakes

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/2/2016

Athletes who want to succeed know that putting mistakes behind them is imperative. Being able to wipe the slate clean and quickly move on from a mistake will help them reach their potential.

Dr. Patrick Cohn, author and founder of Peak Performance Sports, advises parents and coaches to help kids deal with mistakes by teaching them the ‘3 Rs’ of composure: 

  1. Recognize
  2. Regroup
  3. Refocus

“Players must recognize that they are dwelling on the mistake, regroup by interrupting the chain of thought, and refocus on the next play.”

As parents, it’s important you avoid “shaming” messages that you may be tempted to send your young athlete when he or she makes a mistake.

  • How could you have done that?
  • You don’t listen to me!
  • You can do better than that!
  • What’s the matter with you?

Almost certainly, your child will be hard on himself without you adding to his shame. After making a mistake, many young athletes adopt the ‘I suck’ mentality. When our kids sang that tune, we would remind them that even great athletes make mistakes. More importantly, when an elite athlete makes an error, it does not make that person a bad athlete. Great athletes are those who learn from their mistakes.

When your child can identify and label the mistake as an error, rather than internally beating himself up with the ‘I suck’ mantra, the next step is to find a solution. What can she do differently? What practice drills will help him prevent this particular error from happening again?

As a parent, you have a huge role in helping your child learn to recover from mistakes. Your love, support, positive reinforcement and unconditional acceptance will build up your child’s internal self-confidence bank, this way mistakes can’t empty it out.

Accept the notion that your kids are doing their best. Also, they will learn faster from mistakes, if they are in an environment that accepts mistakes. By providing your kids the room they need to fail, they will ultimately become better individuals as a result of their individual growth, learning, and eventual success.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.