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What can parents and teachers learn from Southgate

I have never watched football, apart from the last 30 mins of 1996 Euros and 2020 (2021) Euros.

The penalties were gut wrenching and seeing Gareth Southgate’s face when he missed and how he was consoled by his manager Venables really stuck with me.

Roll on 25 years and Southgate has his arms around Saka. He knew exactly what it felt like to make an almighty mistake – the pain, the disappointment, the regret, even the embarrassment, guilt and shame. All the emotions are there.

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

There is so much learning for us in Southgate’s actions – empathy, kindness, understanding, support. Most importantly he took responsibility for his action and had to power to accept he made a mistake. All the things that children need from us to help them develop good mental health.

A mistake is a blunder, a slip, error is either an action that we take that is wrong or produces a result that we didn’t intend, was not correct or one we regret in future. It can also be getting something wrong when we are learning something new.

Mistakes are something we all work hard to avoid yet they are so vital to our growth. Life is for growing and expanding yet fear of making a mistake can paralyse us from attempting something new or trying.

Making mistakes is never a nice thing. It feels awful but it is necessary as helps us grow. We learn what feels right and what doesn’t feel right, we learn about our emotions and feelings and we learn about our values. Our values literally shape us.

We have all made mistakes and know what it feels like. Let’s embrace those mistakes, talk about them, tell stories about them, laugh about them and create a culture where it really is OK to make mistakes. Mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of, they make us who we are.

Ways to encourage children to learn from their mistakes:

Encourage your child to just have a go, fall down and get up again, try at something, even if they are worried about looking silly or getting it wrong. This builds their growth mindset.

Accept your own past mistakes and see how they have made you the person you are. You might like to list them and see how you have grown.

Encourage children to say sorry (take responsibility and not blame others) if they have made a mistake that hurts another and make sure you role model this. Being the first one to say sorry shows great strength of character.

Try to reframe mistakes and talk to your child about how the mistake and how it can be avoided in the future.

Give the mistake an autopsy, ask questions to your child – What were you trying to do? What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? This way you can understand the intention behind the action.

Encourage children to see mistakes as a powerful tool to grow and become the best person they can be.

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