11.07.2018 Family & Parenting

Parenting Mistakes You Should Avoid At All Cost

Parenting Mistakes You Should Avoid At All Cost
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Failing to discipline your child
Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to discipline your child. You may be tired or you may feel like you’ve already corrected your kid so many times it’s falling on deaf ears. But it’s important to take the time and energy for discipline, even when it’s the last thing you want to do. Fern Weis, parent-teen relationship coach told me, “Parents want some peace and harmony. They don’t want to be fighting and disciplining all the time, but they don’t know another way to avoid the power struggles. Fearing their relentless child, they back off.”

You may be temporarily relieved, but this will backfire in the long run. She continued, “This results in children who are running the show, and who are unintentionally given the kind of control they are not emotionally equipped to handle. They don’t hear ‘no’ and learn that if they push back hard enough, they will get what they want (whether it is a thing, a privilege, or to be left alone). These children do not learn to self-regulate.”

Failing to discipline your child will cause you a lot of headaches later, and it’s not good for your child, either. So stick to your guns, and take the time to discipline your kid compassionately and firmly when they need it.

Trying to control your child
While you need to be consistent with discipline, it’s important not to go too far in the other direction and try to control your kids, as it will lead to them acting out later on. Barbara E. Harvey, Executive Director of Parents, Teachers and Advocates, Inc, told me, “Control is a mistake because eventually in order for a person to be free they must rebel. In the short-term children may submit and it is easier for the parent. However the child is not learning to make decisions for themselves.”

When you try to control your child, you’re also missing an opportunity teach them they can trust you. Harvey continued, “Nor are they building a sense of learning to trust. In the long term the parent is setting up a oppositional pattern where, in order to grow and stretch their wings, children have to rebel.”

Aricia Shaffer, former therapist and parenting coach, agreed. She told me, “The first mistake is believing you have control over your kids. If you’ve ever tried to force kids to hurry, to eat their breakfast or fall asleep, you’re familiar with this fact, yet some parents choose to try to fight it. When you fight it, you get frustrated parents and out of control behavior from kids.”

Giving your child a negative label
One of the worst things you can do is to give your child a negative label, because they may carry it with them for the rest of their life. Jill Whitney, licensed marriage and family therapist, told me, “Kids internalize what they’re told about themselves. What parents say becomes their internal template, the voice they hear inside their head — often for their whole lives.”

If your kid is doing something that drives you crazy, instead of making a comment about them as a person, Whitney suggests, “Focus on the behavior that’s the problem. This room is a mess. You need to pick up your toys before dinnertime. It’s time to stop playing and get your homework done. This is far more specific; the child knows what he can do to correct the situation. This approach indicates that the problem is related to a specific situation, not something permanent about your child.”

She also recommended, “On the flip side, do give your child positive labels when your child displays traits you want to encourage. You’re a kind person. You’re so persistent. When you put your mind to it, you can figure anything out. These are traits you want your child to perceive as an inherent part of himself.”

Avoiding the birds and the bees
While it may be uncomfortable to talk to your children about sex, it’s better for you to address it than to have your kids learn about it elsewhere. Whitney told me, “When kids ask something about sex, say, ‘What does sex mean?’ or ‘How did the baby get in there?’ parents may panic and avoid the question. That gets you off the hook for the moment, but it has unhelpful fallout.”

When this happens, Whitney told me, “Your child doesn’t get the information she needs. More important, she learns that she can’t turn to you when she has those sorts of questions. She’ll seek information from peers and the internet — and you know how unreliable those can be. Even worse, she may come to feel that there’s something wrong with her for even asking. That creates shame around sexuality that can last her whole life.”

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