Raising children is not an easy task. Every time parents think they grasped the full meaning of it, there comes a moment when they realize they still have a lot to learn. We are all human beings and we often make mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes parents will make sooner or later. Understanding these mistakes is the first step towards avoiding them altogether.
1) Scolding your child in public
Toddlers and children sometimes behave inappropriately and even dangerously outdoors (for example, running into a busy road). Overwhelmed with anger and fear, our primary parental instinct is to scold them on the spot.
Although it’s not easy as it requires some considerable measure of self-control, you should take your child to a quiet place and quietly explain to her what she did wrong instead of yelling at her in public. She will understand you much better when you are calm.
Besides, when being scolded in public, children will tend to think more about how other people see them than about what you are trying to tell them.
2) Giving unclear instructions
Many parents give generic instructions or use the same general phrases for different situations, leaving their children confused. For example, if you tell your toddler to “behave well”, it means one thing when playing with other children (sharing toys) and another thing when seeing a movie (sitting still).
We have to remember that toddlers do not always understand what is required of them and so it is important to give them clear instructions based on the specific situation in which they may find themselves.
It is also recommended telling them what to do instead of what not do. For example, when your child returns home from the kindergarten, instead of saying “do not throw your coat on the floor”, you should say “when you go inside, take off your coat and put it on the chair in your room”. In that way, you will be more precise and avoid unnecessary confusion and frustration.
3) Bribing your toddler
It’s late in the evening, you’re tired after work and your toddler refuses to finish her meal… Every parent knows this situation all too well. The temptation to give your toddler a candy if she finishes the meal quickly (so you can call it a day) is enormous.
Another example – when your child starts behaving badly in a public place, you will be willing to do almost anything to make her stop and save yourself the embarrassment, so you offer her a treat if she relaxes.
This will lead to what psychologists call ‘cycle of bribery’, in which children are actually rewarded for negative behavior. When you bribe your child, you teach her that it’s worthwhile behaving badly. In the short term, bribery may get you quick results but in the long term you will pay a heavy price.
Your child should be made clear that improper behavior is unacceptable and will lead to punishment. Over time, she will learn to accept your rules and know how to behave in different situations.
4) Not paying enough attention to hunger or fatigue
As adults, it is often difficult to concentrate when we are tired or hungry, so we rest a bit or eat a snack. Just as hunger and fatigue affect us, they also affect our children. It is important to understand that sometimes bad behavior comes from frustration that can be easily handled with something to eat or a little sleep (especially when it comes to babies).
5) Giving long moral lectures
We must bear in mind that young children’s ability to concentrate is quite limited compared to adults, so don’t expect them to be attentive to long lectures about their behavior. Moreover, they will not take things seriously if they hear too many words coming out of your mouth.
Instead, when you reproach your child for her behavior, try to be concise and decisive as much as you can. For example, if your child harasses the family dog, explain briefly that dogs also have feelings and they will get hurt if not treated properly. Avoid a long lecture about dogs’ anatomy and psychology.
It’s no secret that children can be extremely annoying, and it’s only natural that parents sometimes lose their temper. But although yelling will help you vent your frustration, it won’t have any desirable effect on your child’s education.
Yelling at your child will have two possible outcomes; she will either shut herself off without really listening to you or she will get angry and respond with yelling as well. In order that your child can understand that she was doing something wrong, try not to raise your voice. Instead, you should speak to her in calm but authoritative tone. If you feel like you need a few minutes to relax, do that and only then approach her.
7) Punishing your child too severely
Many parents find themselves punishing their children in a moment of anger. These punishments tend to be too severe and disproportionate to the act that brought them. Moreover, because of their severity, it is often difficult to enforce them.
It is highly recommended setting in advance clear house rules which indicate what the consequences of bad behavior will be, so that your children will know what to expect when they do something wrong. This will help you avoid excessive punishments that result from anger.
One of the most important things in education is consistency. Without it, children do not know what to expect. When you punish your child for a certain negative behavior and this behavior repeats itself, you must not overlook it and punish your child as you always punish her (not less but also not more severely). Consistency is essential to preserving your parental authority.
9) Comparing to other Children
It’s quite common for parents to compare their child to her peers so as to show her how she ought to behave. It’s important to understand that any such comparison will most likely make her feel ashamed, angry and resentful and rightly so – no one likes to be compared to others who are supposedly better.
Avoid comparison of any sort and instead directly explain to your child how you want her to be or act in a specific situation. This will help her develop self-confidence while not feeling she is expected to be someone she is not.