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  • Writer's pictureMelinda Cropsey

A Place Where You Can’t Mess Up!

Many children are primed from a very early age to be perfectionists, and suffer from a fear of making mistakes and/or not measuring-up.  Maria Montessori encouraged parents, teachers and children to develop a more compassionate attitude towards mistakes.  She viewed mistakes as a healthy part of the learning process and wrote:

“ is well to cultivate a friendly feeling towards error, to treat it as a companion inseparable from our lives, as something having a purpose, which it truly has.”*

Breadcrumbs uses the labyrinth as a social-emotional tool to mitigate this tendency.  The labyrinth is introduced as a place where: “You can’t mess-up”… “Stay on the path, enjoy the twists and turns and before long you will make it to the center.” In a sense the labyrinth represents a place of unconditional love.  It meets a child’s most basic “psychic need.”   Akin to a loving home, it represents a place where one is surrounded by love and accepted exactly and entirely as they are. Very young children agree that the labyrinth, and the notion that “You can’t mess-up,” elicits a “happy” response that “feels good in my whole body”…  

A young child’s impression of the Labyrinth

Inviting and encouraging children to exercise self-compassion before undertaking a new challenge, gives them a sense of comfort and confidence.  Anything seems possible when you know that you are surrounded by love!  Teaching children to connect to their hearts and surround themselves with that love is empowering.

We all need a space and place, a sort of “home base” where we can’t mess up.  Where’s yours?


* Montessori, Maria (1995). The Absorbent Mind, Henry Holt and Company, New York, p.246.


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