Some are of the opinion that children should be allowed to make mistakes, while others feel that adults should take a preventative approach. In my opinion, there are limits but it is nonetheless essential for healthy development to permit children their errors.
Proponents of reduced freedom for children argue that mistakes can lead to a pattern of misbehavior. This argument is often advanced by over-protective parents who believe human nature naturally trends toward anti-social activity. For example, a child who is mean to classmates and performs poorly in academics and athletics will only continue this behavior if enabled by understanding adults. To counter the child’s wayward impulses, parents should instead either punish or reward in order to motivate more socially acceptable behavior. The theory is that children will then recognize the boundaries set by parents and society and later fit into the adult world as well-functioning members.
Regardless, a sense of autonomy is crucial to mature development. Children who are shielded from making mistakes often lack the skills that encourage healthy growth. The majority of learning, for instance, is achieved through mistakes. A child who is learning a sport makes mistake after mistake but does it with a positive attitude and eventually improves. Later in life, the attitude may become more negative but the process remains the same for all disciplines, private and public. Parents and other adults must therefore seek to impart unconditional support and ensure children do not develop self-esteem problems based on their mistakes. This approach of fostering a cheerful self-sufficiency will serve them best throughout life.
In conclusion, although some adults may feel that are preventing children from making mistakes for the public good, they are in fact doing great harm to their child’s mental well-being. If larger segments of society accept this perspective, it will benefit all of society.