Science now proves that your mom was right when she said mistakes were opportunities for learning. Just not too many mistakes. It's tempting to push our kids towards perfection. Whether it's in school or in sports, we want to help them achieve their full potential. But you really have to be careful with this. When we communicate to our kids that we don't accept anything less than an A+, we are actually lowering their chances of success.
If we really want the best for our kids, we need to teach them that we value taking risks and grappling with challenges more than perfect results. On the other hand, if the work is too difficult, kids shut down and don't learn a thing. Don't you wish you had a magic formula? In fact, a new study has found just that.
The facts are in: an 85 percent success rate is optimal for learning. Making mistakes around 15 percent of the time is just the right balance for us to absorb new information. Getting things correct most of the time keeps us motivated enough to keep trying, but a few mess-ups maintains enough challenge to hold our interest.
The study, led by Robert Wilson, an assistant professor of psychology and cognitive science at the University of Arizona, involved computers that were taught simple tasks. The computers learned by using a system of trial and error. They had the highest level of success when they were correct 85 percent of the time.
When it comes to parenting, this study has huge implications. Moms and dads who expect perfection from their kids might want to reevaluate their priorities. If children know they have to get everything right, they are more likely to choose the easiest route. That means shying away from challenges, which are essential for them to learn.
We need to praise our kids for qualities like effort and persistence. Asking them what they learned from an experience matters more than a grade.