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.
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.
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.
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.
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