Perfection is….Impossible

The holiday season is often filled with long lists of things to do.  We have things we have to buy, meals we have to prepare, relatives we schedule time to see. The images that surround us are often of very happy people serving the perfect dish.  Delightful children opening the perfect presents. A household impeccably cleaned and perfectly decorated. We as adults can get caught up in the ideal of the perfect holiday–which is a perfect way to get burned out!!

While we are often told that perfection is out there–just beyond our reach–the truth is that it really isn’t. There are no perfect children, and there are no perfect families.  What brings people who love each other closer is the very real act of working through our imperfections and supporting each other through the mistakes we make. Children are prime candidates for making mistakes because they learn so many things through trial and error. When a family member makes a mistake–whether he is an adult or a child–we can offer the gift of acceptance.  Turn a mistake into an opportunity to solve the problem rather than focusing on blame or consequences.

We can model tolerance of our own mistakes through the words and actions we choose when we mess up.  When we make a mistake or have an accident, we can model a problem-solving approach by taking a calming breath before we react.  Remember that our choice of words will reflect what we feel about a situation, and that our children will always be listening. “Hmmmm, how frustrating! I really made a mistake there. I am going to have to try again”, is a reaction that shows acceptance of a mistake, and tolerance for imperfection.  It also shows young ears that not even a parent can accomplish everything perfectly on the first try–we all need a second chance for a do-over.

Young children are most often motivated by a drive to please us. The mistakes they make are not generally made on purpose; they often feel bad just at the act of having disappointed us in the first place. We as parents know that children will be making mistakes throughout their lives. Our job is to help them find ways to fix the mistakes and move on. Helping your child fix something that went wrong will reinforce for him that he is capable of making something better–rather than focusing on how he messed up in the first place.

During this time of year when we tend to turn our attention to traditions and rituals, rather than focus on “getting it right”  families can focus on their strengths: the time they spend together, the love they have for each other, and the support they give one another through hard times. Let the new year be an opportunity to focus on the joy of watching children grow, with all the (metaphorical as well as literal) bumps, bruises, scratches and mistakes that it involves!

During this holiday season and throughout this new year, the Hopkins Early Childhood Staff want to offer our support and appreciation to you–the families in our program.  We are convinced that perfection is never the goal in raising children; progress is the goal in raising children.