7 practical tips for talking to your tweens and teens about making mistakes

Bianca & Kritz Sciessere from The Big Sister Experience share their wisdom to help navigate this tricky time.

The Big Sister Experience / April 04 2023

Sisters Bianca and Kritz are the founders of The Big Sister Experience (Image: Supplied)

Sisters Bianca and Kritz are the founders of The Big Sister Experience (Image: Supplied)

1. Encourage your children to think for themselves

Instead of instilling fear of making a wrong decision, allowing tweens and teens to come up with solutions, then discussing these with you, will help establish a good relationship with mistakes and failure. It is natural to want to provide answers, especially when the consequences are clear, but having these discussions is building autonomy and confidence in your tween or teen.

2. Vulnerability is the KEY to CONNECTION

Communication about your past setbacks is important in establishing a forum of emotional connection. Allowing ourselves to appear vulnerable by sharing stories from your own teen years, instead of pushing for key details will normalise candid and genuine conversation. Often, the end result is your teen relaxing into being open about the things you are concerned about.

(Image: Getty)

(Image: Getty)

3. ALLOW your kids to make mistakes

When sharing your setbacks with your teen, emphasise on what this taught you. Instead of saying ‘don’t do this, because…’ try ‘this happened, when I did this…’, to help foster your child’s decision-making skills. 

4. When expectations aren’t met…

Focus on encouraging positive elements of the situation, or offering constructive criticism. Debrief about what worked and why, instead of offering shallow praise. If something goes wrong, talk about how they can fix it, as opposed to rushing in to fix it yourself.

5. Adopt a gratitude mindset

A natural reaction to have for your child whom you love unconditionally is to try to alleviate pressures, but this mission can be harmful. Encouraging a gratitude mindset is a reflective approach, used when we reflect on the mistake that was made and are thankful for growth as a consequence, rather than being regretful. 

(Image: Getty)

(Image: Getty)

6. If your tween or teen asks for help…

Try and remember what it was like to be their age! Allow them to make mistakes and be there for them without judgement if things didn’t go right – especially if you could see it coming! As highlighted in Tip 1, open discussions and talk through the issue when you are asked for help. Encourage the young person to come up with solutions to foster critical thinking.

7. Celebrate the wins and the lessons

Being a tween and teen is about the learning journey. The best way to reflect is by finding out what things do and don’t work and what repercussions follow certain decisions. You either WIN or you LEARN. Celebrate the wins! Whether they were small risks or stepping into discomfort, your child will build a stronger sense of confidence if they are encouraged to look on the positive side of every situation.

Watching our tweens and teens go through life is like spotting them on a tightrope. We don’t want to interfere – this could cause them to face great difficulty without our assistance! Our job as parents is to act as a spotter – stepping in if things are looking dangerous, but otherwise standing by supporting and admiring. By nurturing a positive relationship with mistakes, we are raising resilient and confident young adults. 

The Big Sister Experience is on a mission to inspire the girls of today through self-love and self-confidence to become the resilient, strong and compassionate women of tomorrow. They deliver this through in school workshops, family workshops, community events, professional development for educators, and online membership programs. The Big Sister Experience was founded by real life sisters Bianca and Kritz who share over 14 years teaching experience. They use this teaching experience along with their own life lessons to share relatable, authentic and research-based programs throughout Australia. Please get in touch to see if we can make magic with the young girls and families in your community.


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