Does Your Child Have an "Ah, Bummer!" Coach?

by Renaye Thornborrow

I’m sure you’ve had an “Ah bummer!” moment – probably after messing something up! Our kids have them too.

The challenge with an “Ah bummer!” moment is that people often enter “panic mode” asparent and childthey try to deal with the issue. The problem is, when you feel stressed and panicky the logical reasoning part of your brain actually functions less effectively – making it very difficult to think straight.  

That is why it is so important to have an “Ah bummer!” coach – someone you can turn to when you’ve messed up who can help you calm down, think straight, and put together a plan to handle the situation.

As parents, we can be an “Ah bummer!” coach for our kids.  But first, it’s important to understand what makes an effective coach -- you may decide that your spouse, an aunt, or a grandparent might be a more effective coach.  

Here are six characteristics of an effective “Ah bummer!” coach:  
  1. First, a good “Ah bummer!” coach must provide a “safe place” for the truth.  Kids often hide the truth because they are afraid of getting in trouble.  Let them know that when it comes to mistakes, you believe in accountability (taking care of the problem) versus punishment.  Your kids must be able to trust that they can come to you without being judged, lectured to, criticized, or punished.  
  2. Second, a good “Ah bummer!” coach must remain calm under stress.  If your child comes to you, it is important that you remain calm about the situation.  This can help ease your child’s panic, calm them down, and help them shift back into thinking mode. Remind her that she just made a mistake – it’s an opportunity to fix it, learn from it and let it go.     
  3. Third, a good “Ah bummer!” coach helps brainstorm solutions.  As your child’s coach, help him brainstorm options for handling the situation so that he can handle it with responsibility and integrity.  One important tip – once you’ve discussed the options together, let your child decide the best course of action.  This helps him take ownership of the solution and helps him build confidence in his ability to make decisions.   Your role is to provide encouragement and support.
  4. Fourth, a good “Ah bummer!” coach is trustworthy.  It is important to build trust with your children.  If you say they won’t be punished for mistakes, then follow through.  If they ask you to keep something confidential and you agree to that, then uphold that commitment.  When children trust you to provide a safe place for them, they will come to you with their problems.  
  5. Fifth, a good “Ah bummer!” coach provides accountability - not rescue.  It is important that you let your kids manage their own problems.  Learning how to manage mistakes empowers kids to be responsible for their actions.  It also builds powerful self-confidence and enhances self-esteem as they learn they can handle anything that comes their way.   
  6. Finally, a good “Ah bummer!” coach turns the situation into a learning opportunity.  Once the mistake has been managed, sit down with your child to discuss what happened and what he learned from it.  This will support him in doing things differently in the future.  Also discuss the importance of letting it go.  Let him know that “we are not our mistakes and hanging onto them doesn’t serve us”.  Remind him that when he makes a mistake to “learn from it and let it go”.    

If you’re ready to be your children’s “Ah bummer!” coach, we recommend two things.

First, have a conversations with them and explain the benefits of having an “Ah bummer!” coach.#  Share with them the six characteristics of an effective coach so they understand what to expect and then ask if they would like for you to be their coach.  This is something that each child must choose.  

Second, teach your children how to manage mistakes so they understand how you will work with them when they have an “Ah bummer!” moment.  Adventures in Wisdom teaches the “Five I’s for managing a mistake” – “I did it….I’m sorry….I’ll fix it….I learn from it….I let it go”.

In the story, “The Weight of Mistakes”, Danny learns that when he carries his mistakes with him it brings him down and causes him to make even more mistakes.  Wyatt the Wise Wizard teaches Danny the “Five I’s of managing a mistake” and the importance of learning from it and letting it go.  To initiate the conversation with your kids, check out the skill book, “Overcoming Mistakes – How to Learn from Mistakes and Let them Go” at

Posted October 2011