6 Common Mistakes Parents Make

Despite our best intentions with our kids, many of us goof up here and there. After all parenting is an art not a science and as they say, kids don’t come with manuals– And each and every model is so unique that what works for your first kid, does not work for your second kid! But, here are a few common mistakes many of us make when parenting:

  1. Disciplining when angry: A lot of us do this. We are so mad at the transgression that we sometimes dole out consequences that we cannot follow through or are too ridiculously severe for the actual mistake. “You spilt the milk again!!! No TV for one week !!”. So the key is to calm down and deal with it only after your rational mind has kicked back in.  Walk away from the situation, drink some water and don’t talk until you know you are not foaming at the mouth.
  2. Confusing love and discipline: Some of us believe that if we love our kids then there is no need to set limits or make rules. After all this is not a military camp we are running, but raising children. Studies show that children who are raised with clear limits are more secure, confident and happy. Children who were pampered and raised with no limits tend to have a sense of entitlement and behave selfishly. Parents who had very authoritarian parents themselves especially sometimes tend to swing to the opposite side and this can be dangerous for the kids.

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  1. Inconsistency: This is one of the most common problems. It is really hard as a parent to keep up the consistency in laying down rules and following up with consequences. One day you tell your children they cannot watch TV and the next day you sit down and watch a show with them. One day you scold your child that they did not drop their plate in the sink after eating and the next day you clean up for them. These kind of inconsistent messages makes for poor parenting and disciplining of children.
  2. Being Disrespectful: “Be respectful to elders” we always teach our kids. But are we respectful with our kids? It means, do we talk down to them as if they are dumb? Do we disregard their opinions or decisions without giving them reasons or trying to convince them? If you are not sure about this one… just try to put yourself in their shoes for a minute (especially teens) and ask yourself, would you like someone to talk to you like that?

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  1. Cognising only the negatives:  Many of us unconsciously slip into the “police man” role where we only notice the mistakes and focus on correcting them. We do not applaud the positives and encourage it. This leads to kids acting out just to get attention. So consciously pay attention to the good things your child does and acknowledge them. For example, say “It’s great that you are being nice to your brother” when they are being nice (Instead of stepping in only when a fight breaks out and finding out who is to blame for the ruckus). Noticing and encouraging positive behaviour promotes more of the same.
  2. Sheltering them: Studies show that children who encounter stress, grow up into resilient adults who are more capable of handling it. Today many of us rush to protect our kids from everything. We help with homework, we study with them, we iron their clothes for them, we rush to scold the teacher for the injustice at school, we try to talk to their friends if they are not treating your kid well… we try to make the world as perfect as possible for them. Let’s not scramble to do so much. Let them face natural consequences of their choices and behaviour and learn from life. Let them stumble and fall a little and while it is ok to let them know that you are behind them, let’s not spread a net to catch their fall, lest they get hurt.

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