Inside: 10 Parenting Mistakes I Caution You To Avoid.
Around the time my first daughter was two years old we began to go through her tantrum phase. For parents out there I know you can relate to this. Right about this age was when she began to throw herself down on the ground when she didn’t get her way and begin crying, wailing and causing general havoc.
When this first started my wife and I were quick to pick her up and ask what’s wrong and try to comfort her. We had already read all the books on nap time and not giving in (Ferberizing) but this “in public” display of chaos was new to us.
Whenever one of these meltdowns happened and we let her cry it out, we thought how at some point in life our actions would be brought up in therapy sessions between her and a psychiatrist. “They just let me cry and never attended to my needs”. Ugh…
Children don’t arrive with an instruction manual like a new television. Much of what you learn about parenting comes from trial and error and the parenting mistakes you make along the way. My children were the first I ever had to deal with in life. I only have an older sister, no younger cousins that I regularly saw, and no friends with younger siblings. Every parenting mistake I made was going to be a first for me.
Remember, you’re not alone. There are parents just like you making the same mistakes daily. If you’re open to some insight from a two-time dad please take a look at the top 10 parenting mistakes I caution you to avoid (that I may or may not have made).
10 Parenting Mistakes I Caution You To Avoid
Don’t spend time comparing your child to another sibling or a friend. The phrase, “Why can’t you be more like… (insert the name here/your brother, your sister)” is a terrible parenting mistake. Comparing one child to another can damage a child’s self-esteem and turn them away from you. Children need to trust you and you can’t possibly think a child will trust a parent who keeps telling them they should be more like someone else.
The child may wind up thinking that they can never be as good as that person and instead of striving to be better they can withdraw and in turn destroy their self-confidence.
What if the situation were reversed and you were being compared to one of your peers at work? “Tom has no problem getting his reports in on time. What’s your deal Todd, why can’t you be more like Tom?”. You’d hate to hear this so don’t say it to your children.
Trying to help too much
Every parent out there has been presented the task of helping on a school project. For me, it started with helping my girls during fire prevention week. Every year until about 4th grade they would have to submit an escape route for the house in the event of a fire or emergency. Like clockwork, they’d come home and announce that it’s fire prevention week and I knew it was time to get cracking on the map. By the time my youngest was in 4th grade I had already done this map so many times, it was ingrained in my head. But was this helping my girls?
There are reasons why your children are given school projects and asked to do it themselves. It’s so they learn and figure things out on their own. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t help them with school projects but don’t do the whole project yourself. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have made this parenting mistake more than once including a science fair project I worked on with my daughter.
“Our project” revolved around the effect of weight on a pendulum. This was not a great topic but one that was on the list and seemed easy enough to do. I helped her construct the tower that would hold the pendulum and figured out the mechanism to add weight.
When it came time to view the fair I was amazed at some of the projects and it was blatantly obvious which children received help and which ones didn’t. “We” lost to a kid whose parents built a mini house and had it wired for electricity, showing the different wattage in light bulbs and how switches and current worked. WTF! There was no way in hell a child built this house.
Follow through on requests
Follow through with what you say you are going to do. DO NOT make idle threats. “If you don’t clean your room you’re getting your phone taken away”. If your child doesn’t do what is asked of them it’s imperative to follow through on the consequence. A lesson children need to learn early on life is that there are consequences for their actions and inactions!
Don’t be overprotective
We all want our children to be safe at all times but sometimes in life, the lesson needs to be learned the hard way. Allow your children to do stupid things sometimes. When I was young everyone was into BMX. We built ramps out of just about anything we could get our hands on and then proceeded to fly over them at top speed on our bikes. Often we’d try to jump over garbage pails or each other. It didn’t always turn out well for us but we learned.
Luckily nowadays children are at least wearing helmets when they bike ride. There is not one photo of me riding a bike as a kid with a helmet on. Be happy we have that going for us today.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t keep our children as safe as possible but let them live a little.
We never intentionally set out to neglect our children but at times life can get in the way. Sometimes you get stuck at your job late or have to work 2 or 3 jobs to help make ends meet. If you’re a single parent this can lead to your child being raised by a sibling, relative, or by no one. It’s not easy at times but do your best to be around.
Be present in your child’s life at all times and talk to them daily. Listening to what your child has going on in their life will help you to understand them and get an idea of what he or she may be going through. Parents who don’t listen to their children create future parents who won’t listen to their children. It’s a vicious cycle.
One of the biggest parenting mistakes is being too critical or overly critical of your children. It’s difficult at a young age to accept criticism even if you feel it’s constructive criticism. It can be damaging to a child at a young age. Being too critical can do more harm than good and can destroy a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
A child will grow up thinking they “can’t amount to anything” and they aren’t “good enough” if they are constantly being criticized in their younger years. Celebrate your child’s successes and don’t continue to criticize. Build them up instead of breaking them down.
Spoiling your child
We all want to give everything we possibly can to our children but spoiling your child can be a huge parenting mistake. Instead of spoiling your children with frivolous gifts have them earn a treat. In doing so they will learn the lesson of needing to work for what you want in life. If you cater to your child’s every whim you may set them up for failure later in life.
Let’s face it, no one likes a spoiled child who whines until they get what they want. That’s not how life works. Instead, teach them to earn what they want.
Giving them too much to do
I’ve personally seen parents burn out their children by giving them too much to do. The child is enrolled in soccer, lacrosse, dance, girls scouts, and countless other activities all to “keep them off the streets and out of trouble”. Kids can suffer burn out just like adults. The difference is their burn out can manifest as poor grades in school, continual fatigue, and health problems.
The other issue is parents trying to live vicariously through their children. These parents force the child to participate in sports they aren’t interested in but the parent is. This is the dad who lived his glory years on the football field and thinks his son should too. If your child tells you it is too much for them, listen to them.
No routine or boundaries
Children must have routines just like adults. Getting your child in a routine will create habits that create success. Children should have structure. It’s always best, when possible, to eat dinner at the same time every night and have everyone eat together. Dinner is a perfect time to talk about your day and theirs.
Bedtime rules must be followed. Children shouldn’t decide on their own what time they go to bed especially when they’re young. Set limits and boundaries. Limits should include how much TV or screen time they have on phones and tablets per day as well as what time their curfew is if they’re older.
Set routines and structure but be fair. We want to protect our children but we also want to let them grow and learn. Strike the right balance when possible.
Be a good role model
Children learn much of their behavior from their parents and what they see in the home. Make sure you’re being the best role model you can be at all times. Slamming or throwing things when you’re angry shows your children that this behavior must be OK since an adult is doing it.
The same goes for yelling and screaming. As someone with a bit of a temper, this is something I continually struggle with. Act the way you want your children to act. If they see you always yelling when you want them to do something they’ll grow up thinking this is acceptable behavior and we all know it’s not.
Parenting is not a part-time job! When you became a parent you took on a full-time job with no days off or vacation! Even when you’re on vacation you’re still working at parenting. No one is perfect so expect to make parenting mistakes. Sometimes we hit a home run and other times we strikeout. It’s a continual learning process.
We’re in this together so remember that you’re not alone in your quest to eliminate parenting mistakes.
What other parenting mistakes have you made that you think are important to avoid? Comment below.