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How to Start Celebrating Progress, Not Perfection


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How to Start Celebrating Progress, Not Perfection


If someone had told me a year ago, that I would spend almost the entire year homeschooling my two kids, working at home, and not see my friends or family in person, I would have told myself, ‘Wake up, you are having a bad dream’. But the pandemic was a reality, and it is still here.

What this past year has shown us is also our incredible power to imagine, adapt and survive. I am not just talking about the adults, the way our children have adjusted is quite remarkable. The past year was not perfect, but we have endured the imperfect times. So I thought this year, instead of starting it with resolutions, let’s start it by celebrating how far we have come.

Let us celebrate progress and not perfection.

So how can we apply this mindset to our children? The following are a few ways to practice this everyday.

Merit progress over perfection

More often than not, we get tied down to the idea of being perfect and getting it all correct. Celebrating progress does not mean hiding away what we do not know, it simply means to celebrate what we know today that we didn’t know yesterday. In the past year we have seen numerous examples where learning, working and getting through the day has been about making progress and not being perfect.

More on process, less on result

Life is more like a road trip and less like a commute to work. It’s not the destination but the journey that counts. If you have ever taken a road trip with your family or friends then you will know this that the most enjoyable parts of the trip are the times that’s spent on the road, figuring out which fork at the end of a street one should take. Your children will enjoy learning if they enjoy it as a process and not so much as an end-result seeking task.

Not failing but learning

When we are young we are not afraid of failing but somewhere down the line as we grow up, we start playing safe because we get penalized for failing. Practice saying these to your children, ‘You tried and it didn’t work and now you know that this method will not work. Let’s try another method.’ Reward them for trying, even if they failed. This is an important teaching that will keep on giving their entire life.

Make mistakes, take chances
Like Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, says ‘Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.’ If we do not take chances, we lose the opportunity to grow. Never penalize children for making a mistake. At the same time identify a mistake as a mistake and work with them to figure out what they can do differently next time. Encourage them to try new things and don’t let the idea of ‘making mistakes’ deter them.

Start using ‘not yet’
Words matter and so how we frame our sentences in our everyday life has bigger implications. When you see children struggling with a particular task, say it out loud to them, ‘You haven’t mastered it yet’. Encourage them to say ‘I don’t know it yet’ versus ‘I don’t know it.’ It makes a big difference when the children repeatedly hear it or practice saying it, because they now can believe that there is a path forward to learn and grow.

This year, I am encouraging you to set aside resolutions and give yourself, your kiddos, your family and your friends a giant high-five for making it through a year – a year about which we will tell stories some day that will begin with ‘Remember that year…’.

But for today celebrate the possibilities. Happy New Year.

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