One-Liners: What did you Learn?

We all mess up.  

Sometimes, it's just little mistakes because we are tired parents with our tired parent brains (like forgetting to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer and they smell like mildew...for the second time in a row now). 

Then again, sometimes we mess up big time.  Like the kind of mess ups we don't want to write about on social media or a blog post (even though we really want to be a person that completely embraces vulnerability and grace).

We all know that messing up in both tiny and tremendous ways is an unavoidable part of being human.  

Despite that knowledge, handling mistakes in ourselves and our children in a healthy way can often be difficult depending on our own personality style and the way we were parented ourselves.

Most parents don't want to parent from ingrained negative patterns from their own childhood or current energy level or mood, but instead to parent with a thoughtful plan.

On the fly, however, it is difficult to think of helpful ways to handle tricky parenting situations, such as when our children make mistakes.

Having a go-to list of "One-Liners" to say at opportune parenting moments is a tool that helps you to meet that goal (of parenting with a plan) and save your strength despite the specific parenting challenges you face.

I currently parent kids with diagnoses ranging from ADD, dyslexia, Crohn's disease, PTSD, early trauma, and plain ol' everyday adolescence and am grateful for all the tools I can get my hands on! 

As a Parent and Family Coach, I have had the opportunity to teach other parents about using One-Liners effectively.  This series is a compilation of 15 of my favorite parenting One-Liners. 

"What did you Learn?" is a One-Liner for you as parents to say when your child has made a mistake and:

  • you see there is an important lesson for them to learn 
  • you want to avoid lecturing them.

Lecturing is when YOU are the one TELLING your child

  • what their mistake was
  • the reasons they shouldn't have made the mistake
  • what they should learn from this mistake.  

When you lecture, your intended-to-be-helpful message often gets rejected simply because it is a lecture.  

When you lecture,

  • you (unintentionally) get in the way of the message
  • your child's brain doesn't need to engage
  • your child can easily tune you out.

Additionally, humans (little or big) DO NOT learn when they are in a fight-fight-freeze (stress) response. Lectures are often given when parents THEMSELVES are in fight-flight-freeze and in turn elicit the fight-flight-freeze in their child (who they are sincerely trying to help not make that same mistake again). 

Usually, your child already knows what they did that was wrong, why it was wrong, and even have ideas about what they should do differently next time.

THEIR ideas often hold the catalyst for their own growth and change.  

Saying to your child, "What did you Learn?" in a calm, respectful tone with kind eyes gives your child an opportunity to: 

  • stay out of fight-flight-freeze response
  • think about what did and didn't go well (instead of thinking about how annoying you are for lecturing them)
  • own the choices they made
  • truly learn from their mistake.

Having go-to planned phrases such as these can serve to keep YOU as parent from spiraling into further frustration (or other fight-flight-freeze responses) over their mistakes.

Hearing your child give their answer to this "What did you Learn?" One-Liner additionally can reassure YOU as the parent that you can:

  • FOCUS on what your child said they learned from their mistakes
  • LET GO of your focus on the actual mistake itself.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” - Henry Ford

As an encouragement, one human parent to another, I invite you to parent your own self with this One-Liner!  The next time YOU make a mistake, take a deep breath and ask yourself, "What did you Learn?" 

If you have any questions about how to use One-Liners in parenting or to begin a Coaching Group Class or One-on-One Coaching Program (online or in person), please click the blue bar at the top of this page (Schedule a Free 30 Minute Discovery Session with Hannah).  

Up next in the One-Liners for parents series: "That's One Way to Look at it."

Catch up on previous posts in the series here (and scroll down).

Happy Parenting!