Six Huge Parenting Mistakes ...by Bill Knell
Parents are not perfect and no one has all the answers when it comes to raising children. What we can do is make sure that the methods we use to raise up our children are positive, proven and productive. The best way to be sure we accomplish this is by recognizing methods that are adversarial, antagonistic and arbitrary. Many parents use these kinds of methods because they were used on them as children. That brings us to our first huge parenting mistake...
1. Passing abuse and negative parenting methods on to your children.
Children learn by observation and tend to copy the behavior of their parents when they become adults. If a child was injured or traumatized by his or her parents, they may do the same or something similar as adults to their children because it is the parenting method that was used on them. If regular and severe beatings or some other form of physical abuse was involved, they might reinterpret that behavior and repeat it in a different form such as verbal abuse.
It is important to recognize that our parents may have made mistakes in the way they raised us and replace whatever negative parenting methods they used with positive ones. Equally important is the need to make sure we are not simply trading one form of abuse for another. Verbal abuse can be as damaging in almost as many ways as physical abuse. That brings us to our next huge parenting mistake...
2. Screaming at and threatening your children.
The only message you send to your kids when you scream at them is that you are unstable and they are worthless. You are not actually explaining anything to them, just venting your own feelings and frustrations. When you are hostile toward them or make threats like "Now you're gonna get it!" you are telling your kids that violence is the way to deal with anything they do wrong. Whether it is failing to obey a command or accidently spilling a cup of milk on the dinner table, kids that are screamed at and threatened will instantly go into a mood of fear and dread that can only harm their personality development and sense of self worth.
Children cannot learn anything positive from those kinds of experiences. They will tend to live in fear and never learn to fully trust parents that scream at or threaten them. Children that do learn to obey based on fear are children that end up believing that hostility is the best way to solve problems or to get your point across. They tend to be more rebellious and develop an abnormal view of personal relationships. Hostility directed at them also causes children to replace their love or respect for their parents with fear. That kind of emotional redirection may well come back to haunt parents that yell and threaten when kids are old enough and strong enough to strike back at them.
3. Constantly questioning your children.
When you ask your child something like "Why can't you just listen to me and behave yourself?" you are displaying a lack of the ability to manage their behavior. You should be pointing out exactly what they are doing wrong, telling them what you need for them to do to correct it and provide them with a reasonable amount of time to carry out your request. Children do not need negative statements disguised as questions, they need answers and positive parenting.
4. Begging your children to behave.
Begging or pleading with children to do what you want them to do accomplishes nothing. It sends a message to children and that message is that you are not in control and do not know how to be in control. Begging passes your authority over to them and places your kids in charge. If you prefer to be in charge, do not plead with children to behave. Make them understand in a positive and affirming way that proper behavior is not an option and that bad behavior cannot and will not be tolerated. Be sure they understand exactly what you want them to do. Have simple and easy to understand house rules so that they always know what they can and cannot do.
5. Lecturing your children about anything and everything.
"I never disobeyed my parents the way you disobey me when I was a child!" It sounds like a logical argument, but not to kids. They were not there when you were a child and could not experience whatever you did as a child. Children tune out lectures and learn nothing from them. Replace lecturing or speech-making with direct, assertive statements that tell a child exactly what you expect of them, when you expect it and what the consequences will be if they fail to obey you.
6. Allowing others to be substitute parents.
Proper parenting means learning from our mistakes and looking for positive ways to nurture and mentor our kids. If we do not do these things, children will turn to others for the love, support and direction that they crave. These 'others' might be friends, relatives or neighbors that may not have their best interests in mind. Child predators, for example, look for opportunities with children who have parents that are unable or unwilling to properly supervise or watch their kids.