Letting kids make mistakes

Madeline Levine, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on the importance of allowing kids to make mistakes which allow for the development of coping skills
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Letting kids make mistakes

Parents are often concerned that if they don't do everything possible for their kids because the world has become so competitive, that their kids will be sort of disabled in some way. In fact, if you do do everything for your kids, they will be disabled because they haven't learned. I mean, adults, we know that to get through life, you need a whole bag of coping skills. And, the way you develop those coping skills is by having manageable challenges and disappointments and failures and stuff like that, and that helps you build up. When I get upset, I can selfsued When I get upset, I call a friend. When I get upset, I look for a different way to solve a problem. If you never allow your child to do that by always rushing in prematurely, you end up like this girl who is on the Stanford Campus. She's a new student at a top school and she doesn't remember where her next class is. So, what did she do? She calls her mother in Asia, 16 time zones away, to ask where her next class is. So, you have to think long and hard about whether or not this girl is headed for success because she's from Stanford or not because she doesn't know how to figure out where her next class is. And, this is what we're seeing. We're seeing kids with extraordinary academic talents and absolutely no interpersonal coping skills. We prepare them by allowing them to make small mistakes, successful failures, when they're younger so that they handle the big stuff when they're older.

Madeline Levine, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on the importance of allowing kids to make mistakes which allow for the development of coping skills


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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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