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Why are we as Adults so Unforgiving of Mistakes?

Updated: Mar 14, 2023


[Pic: Some fun I was having playing with oil pastels]


The other day, I was reminiscing about some words that my daughter would mispronounce when she was a wee baby (She is a tall, lanky 8.5 year-old now.).

For instance…

Pumpkin was ‘punk-a-pin’ (my favourite)

Tomato was ‘voyo-to-to’ (I have no clue how or why! )

And as she grew up and attempted to use even bigger words, one day, she started her sentence with…"In the meaningwhile…."

It was the cutest thing :)

Looking back at these moments, I was struck by one thought. (Okay two thoughts, the first one being: where does the time go?!)

Why are we as adults less forgiving of mistakes when we learn a new thing?

I mean, we find it cute and endearing when babies mispronounce words, but when we trip up in the learning phase, we get flustered. Annoyed. Embarrassed.

Also, notice how it's easier to be kinder when someone else is making a mistake, and we often rush to make them feel at ease and comfortable? (I'm assuming most of us here won't heckle them!)

But when it's us, what does our inner voice say? Most likely, something along these lines:

OMG people are watching, don't screw this up!

How can you be SO stupid?

ARGHHH, made a mistake *AGAIN*!

Quite the opposite of our reactions to cute mispronunciations, huh?

But here's the thing, right? Kids make those mistakes because they are trying to say words that are too many syllables for them. They are trying to punch above their weight.

Similarly, we make mistakes and fail, when we're trying so hard to get to the next level.

If you're starting out with something new, especially drawing, or painting, or a musical instrument perhaps, I hope you'll remember this.

I hope you give yourself space to make mistakes. Glorious mistakes that make you want to clutch your sides and laugh. Own them. And move on.

And remind yourself that you're growing, you're getting to the next level.


This also reminds me of the post I wrote just about a year ago, on doing something for the first time.


As I navigate my new course, I will take this reminder with me too. I often find myself at sea with a lot of new terminologies and feel a bit behind because I don't have a background in psychology. I'll remind myself that I'm learning, I'm growing, and getting to the next level.

Because, guess what? My daughter no longer says Punkapin, and never again did she use the word ‘meaningwhile’ except that one time.

Onward and Upward. Happy creating, happy learning, my friends. We've got this.

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