When it comes to parenting, most of us take the role very seriously; we want to do well and raise happy, well-adjusted kids, but we all inevitably end up making mistakes that can sometimes affect how our children view life, even as they become adults.
Parenting mistakes can have an effect on how a child perceives life around them and, ultimately, can change the lens through which they see the world. Just what are some of these critical mistakes that we make as parents, and how do they affect our children? More importantly, what can we do to ensure that we don’t set our children up for a lifetime of heartbreak, failure, and disappointment? Read on to see what we should be avoiding, and how we can change our own behaviors to instill healthier ones in the lives of our children, as well.
Mistake #1: Not showing love and affection to your children
Mom, Dad, you are your child’s whole world. They rely on you for safety, comfort, and security that can give them a healthy sense of self-esteem that they can navigate life with as they grow. When you fail to show love and affection and bestow words of kindness and encouragement on them, the consequences can be disastrous. Children that don’t feel loved, feel lost, and they will compensate for this lack of love and security by trying to fill the void with other people, things, and circumstances that make them feel better. The greatest gift you can give your children is a healthy sense of self; they can take that with them as they grow and conquer their little corner of the world with confidence.
Mistake #2: You attempt to control everything
Another great gift you can give your children is the gift of independence. Taking control and doing everything for them teaches them to be dependent and codependent later in life. In addition, a person who is constantly controlled may rebel, pushing against the constraints that you’ve set up for them and creating a toxic relationship between the two of you, when the child is old enough to exert his/her own will. Do yourself a favor and strike a healthy balance between guiding and allowing, and you’ll be raising confident people who make confident choices.
Mistake #3: Arguing and fighting constantly
When parents argue constantly, that brings stress into the home and into the life of a child. The child may internalize this struggle of feelings by thinking that the strife is their fault, and they may try to compensate by developing unhealthy behaviors that seek acceptance and peace. If you must disagree with your partner or other family members, do it in private, and present a united front at times when you are all together. This will provide a sense of security for your child that encourages healthy emotional expression.
Mistake #4: Setting impossible standards
When your child comes home with 98% on a test, don’t ask where the other 2% went! Praise them for what they were able to do, and then encourage them to set goals for future achievements. A healthy dose of humility will do when allowing them to succeed and fail at different experiences; preach the virtues of persistence and goal setting as it pertains to life, and watch what wonderful things your child will be capable of as they grow.
Mistake #5: Downplaying or minimizing feelings
If a child is constantly denied their right to healthy emotional expression, you are setting the stage for future emotional explosions later in life. While there is a statute of limitations on crying over the loss of a game of checkers, teach your child that it is okay to express his/her emotions in a healthy way, and encourage them to do so with all sorts of people—family members, friends, and even people they don’t know. They will grow to value their emotions and work to balance them in relationships.
Let’s be realistic here—your children might not emerge completely unscathed from your parental expertise, but you can reduce the crippling effects of some of these mistakes and help them to grow and flourish, even as you grow and evolve as a parent. Good luck to you as you embark on this exciting journey toward greater awareness, greater responsibility, and better relationships with your children!