Absent-Minded Mistakes Turn Into Learning Opportunities

We signed my daughter, 6, up for a virtual class on drawing. She had been asking how to draw a cat. I am not good at this, so I signed her up for a class. The class was, by and large, a huge hit. It was an Outschool class. We love Outschool here. It was one 45-minute class. They drew several things: a cat, dog, sheep, fish, bird, bumblebee, spaceship, robot, car, and airplane.

When they drew the airplane, they were asked to draw the pilot. My daughter wanted to embellish the drawing and add some passengers. Something happened and her paper was upside down, yet she started to draw people anyway. This resulted in the passengers being upside down on the plane. When she realized this mistake she had made–after this class which had taught her to otherwise draw so many things well–she was totally distraught.

The robots are in love. The carriage is taking her and me to Walmart. And–oh no–the passengers on the airplane are upside down.

This is distinctive of the milestone that I captured at around 6.0.1, currently listed as #10 in the Early Elementary Milestones (age 5-6). They become very absent-minded. They are very meltdown-y or aggressive when they learn they made a mistake. And they are highly interested in learning to draw well, as from previous milestones.

I somewhat had my hands full when this happened. I have a four year old, who was asking for milk and to sit with him. I have an eight year old, who also took the class. We were admiring their drawings when this meltdown happened. I can’t quite remember what I said to my daughter. First, I don’t EVER tell children something like, “Oh it’s still wonderful honey! Don’t be sad about it!” NO. This actually invalidates the child’s feeling. They ARE upset. They DID make a mistake. Saying differently overrides their authentic feeling. But what do you say? I think I said, “We could try again” or something like that. It didn’t help. I really wasn’t fully present for her. In fairness, I was literally pulled three different ways.

My husband came to the rescue. He told her there are some airplanes where passengers are upside down. He found some “NASA planes” where people practice being in space and going upside down while flying on a plane. He then called up videos of it to show her. She was fascinated by it. In class, they asked the students to name their planes. She hadn’t yet. She asked to name it, “The NASA Plane.” She was very proud of it and very excited about it.

In this turmoil, she learned something. She learned about NASA planes. This wouldn’t have happened otherwise, not on this day anyway. As my husband said, “This turmoil turned into an educational opportunity.”

Be sure to see my book series Misbehavior is Growth. The main philosophy is that we lean into this irritating behavior as the growth opportunity it is.

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