When our son Nathan turned two and a half, we began using occasional time-outs as a consequence for breaking family rules. I became concerned, however, by the negative feelings my son displayed when a time-out concluded. He often seemed sad and discouraged. As I prayed for a way to make the experience more positive, I felt impressed to say the phrase “Let’s try again.”
After the next time-out, I took my son’s hand and said with enthusiasm, “Let’s try again!” Suddenly the focus shifted away from his negative behavior and centered instead on the opportunity he had to start over. I was amazed at the difference this approach made. Instead of coming out of time-out feeling punished, he was eager to make better choices.
I soon started using the phrase in a multitude of situations. I found myself inviting Nathan in lots of ways: “Let’s try again! This time we can do better. This time we can be gentle” or “This time we can be kind.”
The saying became such a motivator for my son that during a time-out he often called to me, “Mommy, I am ready to try again!”
As I pondered the dramatic effect this simple phrase had on my son, I considered the power contained in the words “Let’s try again!” I realized that God, the Father of us all, does not want us to dwell hopelessly on the mistakes we have made. Instead, He invites us to sincerely repent and focus on a brighter future where we can improve each day. To make repentance possible, God was even willing to offer the life of His Beloved Son. His promise is: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Watching my son’s renewed determination to do better, I felt a surge of gratitude for a loving Father in Heaven, who is merciful to His children when they repent. I also felt a deep appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite Atonement makes it possible for each of us to say, “Let’s try again!”