No matter how conscientious we are as parents, we all make blunders from time to time – like giving consequences for something our child didn’t do. (Yup, got that T-shirt.)
We may feel awful about occasional slip-ups like this, but they are less serious than the mistakes we repeat consistently.
Here are some parenting mistakes you may be making without realising it:
Do your kids only obey once your voice raises a notch, your eyes narrow, and you use their full name? If so, you’re probably guilty of repeating instructions and making threats, hoping they’ll get the point and obey you.
Tolerating delayed obedience teaches delayed obedience to all authority. It also teaches kids to depend on their parents to remind them of their responsibilities instead of thinking for themselves.
You’ll know you’re in the habit of repeating instructions if you hear yourself saying,
And threats sound something like this:
Instead of making threats, speak once and apply consequences if they don’t obey. This will teach your kids the law of cause and effect and save them a lot of heartache later in life.
The difference between a bribe and a reward is that bribes are given to motivate behaviour that should be mandatory – like obedience or chores.
A bribe is an effort by someone without power (parent) to buy a favour from someone with power (child).
Bribing pretty much tells your kids that they are in charge and that you are at their mercy.
Examples of bribes:
“If you behave in the grocery store I’ll buy you a treat when we’re done.”
“If you stay in bed I’ll let you play on my iPad.”
Bribing buys compliance without reaching the will and heart of your child. Do it often enough and kids will grow up expecting payment for everything.
When a parent allows a child to make excuses for their behaviour, they encourage the child to misbehave. A child whose excuses are routinely accepted develops a victim mentality and grows up to believe that nothing is ever their fault.
When we make excuses for our kids, or allow them to make excuses for their behaviour, we send a message that if a good enough reason can be found, they’ll avoid punishment.
This doesn’t mean that a parent shouldn’t find out why a child behaved the way they did. Once a child has accepted responsibility for their behaviour they should be allowed to explain themselves, “I’m sorry I got out of bed, Mommy, but my teddy fell out.”
We often do this because we are tired, haven’t done point no. 5, or don’t have our own feelings under control.
But, speaking harshly conditions children to respond only to harshness. They know that any command given any other way is not to be taken seriously.
Speaking harshly and roughly arouses an obstinate, stubborn spirit in a child, provoking resistance instead of encouraging obedience.
You can retrain your children by telling them that from now on you will only speak once, (and calmly), and then give consequences for disobedience.
And then follow through or you’ll be making another common parenting mistake:
Not doing what you say you will do, or ensuring that your kids do what you’ve asked them to do, sends a message to your kids that there is no need to take you seriously.
And they will push the boundaries to see how far they can go!
Teach your kids to trust you by always following through on requests and always doing what you say you will do – whether it be reading a promised story or giving a consequence.
We often minimise our kid’s feelings by saying things like:
Your child needs to know that it’s healthy to express and talk about their emotions.
When we don’t acknowledge the emotions, we teach our children to suppress them.
Rather say, “I know you’re angry right now. What happened wasn’t fair. What would make you feel better?”
There is an appropriate time for helping your child move on from negative emotions, but first empathise before you advise.
It’s hard to watch your kids struggle with challenges – especially when you know you could fix it easily.
But doing your child’s school project for them won’t help them learn accountability, perseverance, planning etc.
Don’t solve every problem for your child. Let them learn to fight life’s battles on their own while you stand by and support them.
Remember, you are raising little humans, not robots. They will have bad days, make bad choices sometimes, and mess up really badly.
Expecting perfection can lead to a lot of stress and pressure for your child both now and later in life when they expect perfection of themselves.
Make sure your expectations are realistic (not too low and not too high). Stand by and encourage them. And help them get up when they fail.
We often make these parenting mistakes because we’re tired, couldn’t be bothered, or are preoccupied and not paying attention.
Making mistakes is going to happen, but correcting mistakes takes being intentional.
It takes courage to admit our faults and make changes in how we parent. Thankfully, kids are adaptable and very forgiving!
Read 20 Ways to Provoke Your Kids for more parenting mistakes you may be making without realising it.
Which of these common parenting mistakes do you make?