“Parenting” is not a subject that is taught at school, and it’s rare for people to invest substantial hours towards learning about parenting before committing to creating a life. Although there is a saying, “Parenting is learning on the go”, it is never an easy one, and bound to be filled with mistakes and consequences.
With all of the cheat sheets out there, why can’t we have one for parenting? Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all cheat sheet when it comes to raising children, but there are common parenting mistakes to avoid in order to maximize your child’s potential.
1. Trying to change your child’s nature
The conflict starts when you try to change things about your child that you don’t like.
If, for example, your son is obsessed with wheels, instead of dismissing his interest as something meaningless and diverting his attention elsewhere, see this as an opportunity. Facilitate his immersion in something he is passionate about. Let him spend as much time as he is willing to focus on his interest while providing resources to help him explore further.
Rather than trying to change who your child is, engage yourself in your child’s interests and, help him or her explore their passion further by lending your support.
Instead of giving your child advice and criticizing their actions all the time, try to show your empathy.
For example, when your daughter tells you about an upsetting comment from one of her friends, it is important to show your empathy rather than telling her what she should have said or what she might have done better. Let her know you share her pain and that you are there for her.
It is okay to not always make it about teaching right from wrong.
3. Focusing on weaknesses rather than strengths
If you develop your child’s strengths, he can excel in at least one particular area and feel good about it. But if you focus on his weaknesses in the hopes of making him good at everything, he will at best be average at a few things, but probably not very good at anything in particular, nor very confident.
4. Expressing excessive guilt in front of your child
If you have an excessive tendency to apologize to your child for your own shortcomings as a parent, he or she may develop a sense of entitlement and start to blame you whenever they fail at something.
This is not about you admitting you lost your patience when they gave you bad attitude, or apologizing that you were unable to attend their game because you had an important meeting.
Rather, this is about when your self-guilt bursts out of you in the form of statements like, “Sorry, if I could afford a better school for you, you could play soccer for a better team”, or “Sorry, if I had thrown a better birthday party, more of your friends might have come”.
Every family’s circumstances are different and we all wish we could do more for our children, but beware of over-apologizing when you are already trying your best.
Focusing on your child’s weaknesses in the hopes of making him or her good at everything will at best make them average at a few things, but probably not very good at anything in particular, nor very confident.– Balanceinwonderland.com –
5. Not letting your child experience boredom
If you always jump in to resolve your child’s boredom for them, they won’t be able to tolerate being bored or find their own resolution. Boredom is one of the best ways to stimulate creativity.
6. Blaming your child’s negative behavior on your parenting failures
It is a slippery slope to start thinking of your child’s negative behavior as the result of your own lack of effort or incorrect parenting. You need to be able to separate your child’s behavioral problems from your own. Once you pull yourself into a guilt-stricken, negative spiral, your parenting abilities can be jeopardized by an overly pessimistic state of mind.
7. Rushing to correct your child’s behavior
There are many behavioral problems that are symptomatic of a child’s age, which often naturally resolve as they grow out of it. Don’t panic as soon as your child exhibits some new, troublesome behavior; instead, give them time and patiently guide them in the right direction. For example, throwing objects is a common issue among toddlers and it will likely resolve on its own. Simply teach them that you will remove the thrown object until they are ready to not throw it.
8. Being too strict about your child’s screen and game time
No doubt the majority of children love playing games, since it is an easy way to feel a sense of achievement and flex their competitiveness. But for moms, it can be unfamiliar territory, with a bombardment of controversial studies in the media haggling over how much screen time you should allow your children.
When you get upset with your child for spending too much time with the screen and you feel the heat rising, just remember that the only thing that can harm your child more than screen time is scream time.
Parenting is about striking the right balance for your child and your family. As long as you have healthy boundaries concerning screen time that your child is well aware of, don’t let yourself get too easily upset about occasional transgressions.
9. Trying to be your child’s friend
Until your child becomes a grown-up, he or she needs an authoritative figure who can guide them in the right direction and teach them right from wrong. So it is not wise to be your child’s friend—you need to maintain boundaries to be respected and maintain parental authority.
10. Forcing your child to do more
Parents tend to press their child for one more step—one more bite of dinner, a little bit more reading, 5 more minutes of piano practice, and so on. Pushing your child to do more won’t necessarily motivate them in whatever it is that they’re doing—on the contrary, it is more likely to diminish their interest.
Instead, if you want to challenge your child, try saying something like, “I’m not sure you can finish this trail. It’s for older kids”, or “I wonder if you’d be able to play this song. This one’s much harder than the one you just played”. It is the same intent with a different tactic—you are leaving the choice up to your child. This way your child doesn’t feel forced, but pleasantly challenged.
You might also be interested in reading the posts below:
- How to raise your son to be an affectionate man
- What is absent parenting and why is it so damaging to children?
- 5 effective ways to raise an independent child with the resilience to overcome challenges