Quite possibly, the most difficult job on Earth is being a parent. It doesn’t require any sort of licensure, schooling, or previous experience, and yet, we’re supposed to be masters at it. Not only is there no one right way to raise a child, but there are also tons of advice columns and websites offering contrasting opinions. Some long-held parenting philosophies can actually be detrimental to a child’s upbringing, such as those detailed in the following list.
1. Making your child the center of your world
Okay, newborn babies should definitely be the center of a parent’s world. As they grow, it becomes increasingly important to allow them time to grow as individuals. Not only that, but they must also come to the realization that you have a life outside of them. If you’re constantly dropping what you’re doing to cater to their needs (or more specifically, their wants), they’ll end up relying on you for everything. As they grow into young adults who are more than capable of fending for themselves most of the time, it’s important you let them do just that.
2. Ignoring positive behavior
Children need positive reinforcement on a constant basis. For the most part, they honestly do not know right from wrong until it’s taught to them. I know in the real world you’ll never get pulled over by a cop and given money for stopping correctly at a stop sign, but you need to praise your children for a job well done — every time. Something as simple as, “Thank you so much for washing the dishes,” can go a long way. You can’t just assume your kid knows they’re doing a good job. Letting them know will build self-confidence within them, and they will ultimately end up doing good without needing praise.
3. Acknowledging negative behavior in unproductive ways
On the other hand, whenever your child does something they shouldn’t have, the knee-jerk reaction is to lay into them. While it definitely is important to respond to negative behavior and correct it, it should be done in an emotionless manner. Instead of flying off the handle, calmly state what was done wrong, remove the stimulus from the child (or the child from the stimulating area), and move on. If a child is constantly being yelled at, they will simply get used to it, and not really care whenever it happens. Being calm and rational in the face of negative behavior is the best way to nip it quickly in the bud.
4. Not limiting behavior
You want your children to enjoy life as much as they possibly can, but as a parent, it’s your job to teach your children how to act in different situations. It’s definitely okay to put on old clothes and go splash in a puddle; however, it’s not okay to do this in your church clothes. It’s okay to talk while watching TV at home, but not while out at a movie. The best way to teach children about proper “time and place” is by demonstrating it yourself. They’ll always follow your lead, so make sure you set a good example.
5. Bending the rules or being lenient
If you have a set of rules for your household, it’s incredibly important that you always follow through with the consequences if the rules are broken, no matter what the case may be. If one parent bends the rules just once, the other will forever be known as the “bad guy”. This will cause more problems in the long run for the child, as well as the adult relationship. You have to be consistent in your punishments, or your child will learn that they might be able to get away with something at certain times, and not others. Put your foot down, and make sure they know who’s boss!
6. Picking unwinnable fights
We all have heard the saying “choose your battles.” With children, this is of utmost importance. You should never stoop to a child’s level when a point of argument arises. Putting up a defense against a childish argument will only entice them more. Simply explain that you will not fight about whatever it is they want to argue about. It’s that simple: they want to argue, and you won’t stand for it. If they won’t eat their dinner, that’s totally fine. Eventually, they will if they get hungry enough. If they won’t do their homework, that’s fine; but there’s no Wii U tonight. Again, emotionless responses work the best to avoid escalating an already tough situation.
7. Not holding them accountable
I know we want to protect our children, and we usually see them as perfect angels. However, that’s not always the case, of course. They will cause trouble at some point in their young lives. Make sure they understand the consequences of their actions. This goes along with being consistent, but it even goes a bit farther. Look at the situation objectively. Understand that, though they are your children, their actions affect others that don’t care about them as much as you do, and will not think twice about punishing them for negative actions. Be sure to make them understand this as well.
8. Giving in to what they want
Again, going along with staying consistent, you must never give in to their demands. In fact, children should never demand anything from their parents. No matter how much they pester you, it’s essential to remain persistent that your first ruling will be your final ruling. If you give in at some point, they’ll simply learn what your breaking point is, and skip right to it whenever they want something. If you say “No”, mean it!
9. Rewarding them incorrectly
Okay, I’m all for letting kids have some ice cream as a reward once in a while, but they can’t learn that tangible rewards come with every accomplishment. Doing so only makes them work for the reward. Instead, help them focus on how much they grew while completing whatever task they were working on. The reward should be their improvement, and the pleasure that comes from a job well done. Like I said, though: there’s nothing wrong with a little pick-me-up here and there!
10. Staying out of their lives
As children grow into adolescents, they often just want to be left alone. Unfortunately, this will simply further the divide between parent and child. While it’s important to give them space, it’s also important to be there for them, even when they say they don’t want you to be. Showing unconditional love is the best way to ensure a strong relationship with your child as they grow into an adult. They might screw up once in a while, and you might be just as upset with them as they are with you. However, these are the times you need to be there the most for your child, to ensure they grow up knowing they’ll always have your love and support.
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