“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” – Anne Landers
Good parenting means that you are in it for the long haul. Think of sound, long term investments: they pay off handsomely. When we do that and avoid certain mistakes, the chances of our kids turning into decent, caring, and well balanced adults are much higher. Here are 5 parenting mistakes to avoid.
1. Making life easier for kids
The problem here is that kids may rarely experience frustration, disappointment or anxiety. This basically means that as they face adulthood, they are ill equipped for the ups and downs that life, work and relationships will inevitably bring.
When they fail in a test or their team loses, we should be there to encourage and support, not prevent these things happening. Let us concentrate on the tools we can give them to cope with setbacks. Psychologist Madeline Levine says that we have to let toddlers fall when learning to walk. That policy has to continue as kids grow up and face other challenges.
2. Being careless about remarks
John Chirban, psychology instructor, at the Harvard Medical School has warned about careless remarks. Negative judgements or comments can have a lasting, harmful impact. Imagine the fallout from hurtful, uncaring and harsh remarks. These can adversely affect a child’s development and hurt his/her self esteem. Parents have to watch what they say and also be careful about body language.
3. Parents overpraise and overshare
This is the other side of the coin to being hurtful and insensitive to a child’s needs and worries. Here, parents tend to exaggerate with praise and they rarely praise the effort but tell the child that s/he is really smart, cute, good at sports and so on.
According to research done at Stanford University, praising effort rather than talent in 1-3 year olds pays off. Five years later, they seem to be better able to cope with challenges and are more motivated.
Kids tend to overshare on Facebook too, which is another way of inflating the child’s ego. These kids are at risk of becoming unproductive, incompetent adults according to some experts.
Parents often tend to brush bad behaviour under the carpet. This is the perfect recipe for children learning how to lie and cheat to get out of difficult situations, rather than taking responsibility for their actions.
4. Children are never at risk
“We mustn’t wrap our children in cotton wool, but allow them to play outside so as to better understand the opportunities and challenges in the world around them, and how to be safe.” – Ed Balls , Member of Parliament, UK.
There is an interesting article which explores the area of how many risks children should take while playing. Learning to take risks means gaining confidence but also learning about limits and boundaries. This has been echoed in the UK where the emphasis on allowing children to play safely outdoors is an integral part of the government’s Fair Play project. This project emphasises the need for kids to take risks and to learn how to manage them. This is a crucial element of growing up.
In one survey of 7- 12 year olds in the UK, over 50% said that they had been banned from climbing trees as it was considered to be too dangerous.
5. Parents are unable to stop children nagging
Many parents are forced to give in to a child’s nagging when they want something. If we give in, the child learns that persistent nagging really does work and it will ruin any efforts for imposing consequences and setting boundaries later on.
I really like the solution in the Positive Discipline books written by Lynn Lott. The second time the child starts to nag with the same request, just say three words, “Asked and Answered”.
You can then explain that the question has already been asked and answered. You can even repeat what the child first asked and then repeat your answer, just to make it crystal clear! Now this saves you tons of time, you do not have to start nagging yourself or even start lecturing. You just establish this technique and be consistent in using it.
Parents are often seen taking the easy, fast way out but they are sowing the seeds for more and more trouble later on. Well worth investing in the tried and tested solutions above.
Featured photo credit: Catched kid/ Jordie Alvarez via flickr.com