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10 Modern-Day Parenting Mistakes You Should Avoid Making (And How To Handle These Challenges Instead)

10 Modern-Day Parenting Mistakes You Should Avoid Making (And How To Handle These Challenges Instead)

Everyone thinks they are expert parents, except when it comes to doing some parenting themselves!  How many times have we shuddered as a child throws a tantrum in the supermarket? We probably think, ‘parents these days haven’t got a clue.’ But, more often than not, that poor parent is actually trying to establish some limits and we should be less disapproving and more supportive. Here are the top 10 modern-day parenting mistakes that you see all the time. Time to face up to the challenges of positive parenting.

1. Mistake: You give in to have a quiet life

Supermarket owners are not really that parent friendly, I have discovered. After all, those candies and snacks are plonked right in front of the child’s nose at the checkout.

Mistake: Many parents give in because they have to juggle credit card, shopping, trolley and a screaming child. The only problem about giving in and hoping for a quiet life is that the child has learned a new strategy. This will be used again and again. It works!

The Fix: The best way to avoid any of this is to:

  • make sure that the child has had his snack before going shopping
  • avoid shopping with a child in tow
  • use delivery services as much as possible
  • lobby supermarkets to stop stocking checkouts with junk food

2. Mistake: You do not insist on limits

Mistake: If a child is spoiled and cosseted at every turn, the consequences will be that he or she will grow up as a rather demanding and selfish adult. If they encounter setbacks at school or later on in the workplace, the parent may well be to blame.

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The Fix: Emma Jenner, in her book ‘Keep Calm and Parent On’ has pointed out that there is a happy medium between being over strict and being far too lenient.  The solution is to make sure that there are limits and consequences for unacceptable behavior.

3. Mistake: You do not tolerate other carers who discipline your child

Mistake: I remember when a schoolmate of mine was punished for smoking in the school grounds. His father rushed to defend his son and blamed the headmaster and waged a war of attrition against him for many months afterwards. That boy grew up to be a heavy smoker and drinker. He is now obese. That was quite a rare event in those days but nowadays, parents rush in to stop people disciplining their children. Teachers and other carers have to be tread very carefully when reminding children how to behave and become responsible citizens.

The Fix: Parents should be reassured that others are watching and observing their children.

4. Mistake: You do not follow through on consequences

Let us say that you have established there are certain limits and there are consequences when these are not followed.

Mistake: The problem  many parents face is that they are not consistent in following through with the consequences. The result is that control is lost and the children start to take over.

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The Fix: Make sure that you apply the consequences as soon after the misbehavior and on a regular basis.

5. Mistake:  You do not empathize with your child

Mistake: Taking time to empathize with your child is a great investment. When things get tough at school or during homework, take time to express solidarity and sympathize. It does not mean you have to indulge your child or let him off certain tasks. But at least, when empathizing, you are connecting with your child. Now that is much better than yelling or just insisting that chores have to be done by a certain time.

The Fix: When kids get mad, emphasize that verbal communication is always more effective than reacting physically.

6. Mistake: You model your parenting on how your parents raised you

Mistake: This can take two forms. One is that if you were brought up strictly, then you are going to follow that pattern. The second option is to rebel against that awful disciplining and go to the other extreme, by letting your children run rings around you! It is interesting to reflect that the verb ‘to parent’ only came into existence in the 1970s.

The Fix: But parenting is not rocket science. It is just using common sense and ensuring that you do not have to beat your kids, yell at them, or use bribes. It also ensures that you are in control.

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7. Mistake: You set a bad example

Mistake: Parents are role models. If you fly off the handle at the slightest provocation, then your kids will assume this is normal behavior. Shouting, raging and insulting people will set a lousy example. Similarly, eating habits will inevitably be copied as unhealthy food is all that is available.

The Fix: Allowing children to make wise food choices is another great way to encourage healthy eating. Explaining why foods are good or bad is much better than simply labelling them as OK or off limits.

8. Mistake:  You do not spend enough quality time with your kids

Mistake: Are you really giving your kids your full attention when you spend quality time with them? Inevitably, it seems that devices of one type or another are competing with the kids.

The Fix: Switching off the computer, smartphone or even the TV is one of the best tricks out there, if we really want to spend quality time with your kids.

9. Mistake: You do not teach your kids patience

Mistake: Many parents want to put their kids first and forget about the importance of teaching patience. Every child is going to have to learn some coping skills when they have to wait.  Whether it is the bathroom, taking turns, waiting for the bus or long lines, every child has to learn how to be patient.

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The Fix: The best way is to mention that the task, game or whatever needs patience and remind them that it may take a long time. Teaching patience will reap immense rewards in adult life.

10. Mistake: You do not give your child guidance

Mistake: Parents tend to give lots of orders and instructions. Just think of the negative energy they are emitting. They spend so much time doing this that there is little time for engagement, making connections and empathizing.

The Fix: Now, if parents redirect and give proper guidance calmly, then this gives off positive energy.  Reminding them that the rule is X, we don’t do Y because of Z, and please do A instead of B, can be a great help.

Modern-day parenting mistakes can be easily avoided by setting limits and following through on consequences.  Above all, being there to guide, support and love your kids will pay handsome dividends later on.

Featured photo credit: Joy has a tantrum/Citril via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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