Children do not come with instruction manuals. They do not come with a how-to guide allowing parents to avoid making mistakes as they raise them.
Children test the boundaries of patience and rules. As a parent, you worry about making harmful mistakes that will forever scar your child and instill bad behaviors. You are not perfect; no parent is. We all make mistakes.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes all parents make.
The most common mistake all parents make is yelling at their children. You probably have promised yourself more than once that you will no longer lose your temper and start screaming at your child.
However, something happens, and you find yourself right back where you do not want to be raising your voice.
While it might seem like the only way to get your child’s attention is to yell at them, it makes discipline harder because your kids are learning to tune you out.
Children often feel insecure and are more physically and verbally aggressive when yelled at regularly.
Other repercussions from repeatedly yelling at your child include:
- low self-esteem
- susceptibility to bullying
Before you get carried away and fall into the same trap of raising your voice, take a moment for yourself to calm down.
You may need to send your child out of the room so that you can take a small timeout before continuing. Once you calm down, you can acknowledge the emotions you and your child feel to discuss the situation.
Overly controlling parents may feel like they are protecting their children from themselves and the outside world. However, there are some disadvantages for children who an overly controlling parent raises.
These children more often rebel against their parents than other children. They also tend to have higher anxiety and fear of messing up or making mistakes.
While it is a good idea to monitor your child’s activities, you need to allow them some freedom to make mistakes.
Children with a parent hovering around them 24 hours a day do not learn the natural consequences of everyday activities. They never understand what it means to fall off a bike and how to get back up and try again because a parent is always there to catch them.
Instead of controlling their every move, encourage creativity and set boundaries for them to follow. Ensure activities such as bike riding, skating, or playing sports are done with the appropriate protective gear and under supervision which allows you to make sure that they are not taking unnecessary risks while allowing them to enjoy the activity.
Irregular bedtimes are an issue most parents tend to overlook. They know their children need to have a specific number of hours of sleep each night.
However, especially with younger children who do not have to get up and go to school the next day, it is easy for mom or dad to adjust their bedtime and allow them to make up the sleeping time the next morning.
Unfortunately, mobile bedtimes tend to cause behavioral issues in children. In a study completed by the American Academy for Pediatrics, researchers found that children without regular sleep saw worsening behavior as they grew.
However, they determined that the behavior issues improved if children without regular bedtimes changed to a bedtime routine with a regular schedule.
Sleep deprivation from not having a regular bedtime is detrimental to the young child’s developing brain. This inability to get enough sleep because of the adjustable rest affects school performance.
Researchers encourage parents to create a simple bedtime routine and stick to it. This routine should include limiting sugar intake in the evenings and turning off all electronic devices, including television, approximately one hour before bedtime.
The light from television and electronic devices keeps a child’s brain engaged in an active mode and makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. (Source)
Too Much Television
Many parents rely on television to act as a babysitter or entertainer for their children. Having a tv as your child’s only activity is harmful in the following ways:
- keeps kids from exercising
- limits social interaction
- stifles creativity
- keeps their minds active when they should be winding down for bed
A little TV is not detrimental. However, pediatricians recommend that children under two should not have television time. They should spend this time developing fundamental skills such as interactions and motor skills needed for life.
Older children should have a restriction of no more than 2 to 3 hours of television each day.
A distant parent meets the child’s physical necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. They do not, however, offers a child much else.
They do not meet a child’s emotional needs to help them feel protected and nurtured.
Parents who are distant:
- seldom say I love you
- are busy with work, television, or hobbies
- shun physical affection
- are around but are on approachable
Children raised by distant parents suffer from insecurities, including low self-esteem and fear of failure. They also tend to become aggressive and overly arrogant.
Children need to feel as though they are wanted and loved to feel protected. Being emotionally and physically available for your child can give them the necessary security.
Everyone has had that moment of a child throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the store and just wanting them to stop. For many parents, the first option they choose is to bribe the child with a treat to stop the behavior. However, bribes never work.
While a bribe may stop the behavior temporarily, it only encourages the bad behavior to continue. Instead of learning how to control themselves, children learn that the behavior will get them what they want.
Bribery teaches children:
- good behavior is not something you want as a parent
- good behavior is only for adults
- they are not capable of being good without a bribe
Children learn that you will be willing to “up the ante” to make any future lousy behavior stop.
As an alternative, try focusing on the need and not the solution. Actively listen to your child to determine the need.
Use positive feedback and praise good behavior rather than just focusing on the wrong. Limit rewarding good behavior with treats and toys.
Not Setting Boundaries
Free-range children are the new catchphrase for raising children without boundaries. Parents of free-range children allow them to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and however they want.
While it might sound like a good idea to allow children to explore life without bounds, it teaches them that they do not have to abide by the rules of society.
It also does not teach them necessary life tools such as taking responsibility, learning self-control, and self-discipline.
Boundaries show children how to take charge of their lives while reinforcing that you care very much. It is okay to tell your child no and to use practical consequences for misbehavior.
Being Your Child’s Best Friend
You are not your child’s friend. You are the parent. That means there will be times when your child does not like you because you have put limitations on what they can do. Those moments will be fleeting, and an “I hate you” will eventually be followed by an “I love you.”
If you try to be your child’s friend instead of the parent, you remove the role model from your child’s life. You are the first person they will look up to and want to imitate. They have no one to admire if you are no longer in charge.
Also, being a friend instead of a parent makes it difficult for children to learn how to be themselves and interact with their peers. It also makes you equal in your relationship rather than having a parent-child relationship.
Be your child’s parent, not their friend. They will thank you for it later.
Shaming not only damages your child’s self-esteem but also hurts the relationship that you have with your child. Public shaming, such as posting videos or pictures on the Internet or making your child stand by the road with a sign, magnifies the damage.
Brené Brown, a University of Houston Research Professor, put it best. “guilt says ‘I did a bad thing,’ while shame says, ‘I am bad.’”
When talking to your children, you should avoid:
- I am tired of dealing with you
- You are a bad girl or boy
- I do not know why I bother
Single parents should also avoid threatening to send the child to live with the other parent and compare the bad behavior with the other parent.
In moments of frustration, sometimes parents inadvertently shame their children. If that happens, apologize immediately and open a line of communication between you and your child to correct the problem without shame.
Not Letting Them Get Bored
As a parent, you may think it is your job to keep your child entertained. This idea could not be further from the truth. Children need to be allowed to get bored.
When you do not permit your kids to get bored, you stifle their creativity, they fail to learn how to entertain themselves, and they may become overstimulated from the activities or television.
Boredom can lead to your child creating some fantastic new games by engaging their creativity and learning how to entertain themselves. Children also learn how to interact better with their siblings and friends if they must work together to alleviate their boredom.
No parent is perfect. At some point, you will make one or most of these mistakes. It does not make you a bad parent if you mess up occasionally.
Just learn from your mistakes and change the habits before they become detrimental to your children.