• Shifali Gupta

5 Parenting Errors You Need to Avoid

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in this day and age. I believe no one should consider having children before they learn the nitty-gritty related to raising a kid. Parents are the first and foremost role models for a child, which means you need to cast away your negative habits and project an ideal behaviour which you would like your kids to emulate.

However, many parents are not aware of the immense harm their actions can do to their kids. Even good intentions might produce counter effects which can lead to regret and disappointment later in life. Resentful kids often grow up to be angry, confused and unhappy adults, which impacts the society as a whole. Here are some of the most common mistakes and errors in judgment parents make, which can prove to be really harmful to kids.

1) Not imposing any rules: Parents often struggle with setting and enforcing apposite rules for their children’s well-being. At times, parents have some bitter memories of the rules imposed on them during their childhood; this often makes them casual in their approach to parenting.

However, this might result in children growing up with qualities of arrogance, self-centeredness or laziness. Parents need to have clarity on what values do they want to instil in their kids, and set a few ground rules. But it’s very important that they remain consistent and do not lose sight of such guidelines in case of an unexpected event.

Remember, you must enforce the rules in a loving way, by making them aware of the possible consequences that might occur due to their poor choices. You need to learn to say ‘I love you, but no’ and stick to it. This is important because they might grow up to be resentful and rebellious, in case you come out as harsh.

2) The ‘rescue’ attitude: Just like adults, children have their own life problems. They might seem trivial to you, but in a child’s mind, these problems are as huge as a ferris wheel. We must let our children falter so that they can learn to stand back stronger and taller.

I still remember, my school did not allow anyone to bring us lunch if we happened to forget it at home. I often did and had to share food with my friends. It was not pleasant, however, I learnt an important life skill- To own my mistakes and do better next time. So, before you try to help your kid with any issue, see if there is a way they can solve it themselves.

If we allow our children to face their challenges themselves during their childhood, they might turn out be excellent problem solving adults. As per Thorndike's Trial and Error Theory, 'Almost all learning is accomplished through trial and error. If error is prevented, so is learning.’

3) Reacting, not responding: Certain incidents push your emotional buttons more than others, for instance - your kid destroying a valuable item or displaying erratic behaviour in public. These situations often trigger a myriad of emotional reactions and you might end up losing your cool.

What most of us forget is that children are human beings like ourselves. They also have their bad days, can make mistakes and behave irrationally sometimes. Therefore, in such scenarios, it is imperative that we respond in a calm, empathetic way, rather than reacting impulsively.

Yelling, shouting and nagging are most likely to be counter-productive and would weaken your connection with your child. Instead, take few minutes to cool off and reassess the situation from a loving point of view before you are ready to communicate with your child.

4) Promoting materialism: At times, parents shower their kids with gifts, either to display their affection or encourage them into doing something. This unknowingly creates an environment of instant gratification, especially if the gifts are given too much, too soon; often resulting in serious negative repercussions.

Having too much also impacts the kind of focus the child has on their possessions, which might instil the trait of lack of appreciation. Parents need to carefully examine how they gift their children material possessions, and what their true needs actually are.

Studies have shown that lesser number of possessions can induce the feelings of satisfaction and happiness in the child. Research conducted by the University of Toledo in Ohio suggested that more number of toys diminished the quality of play, whereas fewer toys resulted in richer play experiences.

5) Not taking care of themselves: After having children, parents often forget about their own needs and tend to entirely focus on their children. In order to be a better parent, you first need to take care of yourself. Make sure you spend some time alone, as well as with your partner and loved ones.

Spending all your free time with your kids is likely to drain you both physically and mentally. Of course, you would not be able to spare as much time as before, but make sure to spend those few hours doing something nice for yourself and taking care of your own well-being.

Find someone you can trust to look after your children, so that you can have that extra time on your hands to relax and have fun times with your loved ones.

Wrapping it up

Parenting can be a fun and fulfilling journey for an individual if you decide to extensively study the subject deeply and be sincere in your role from the beginning. That being said, there is no perfect ‘one size fits all’ user manual to follow, because every child is unique and has their specific needs. A parenting method that works for one child might not work for others. The key lies in connecting with the child as much as possible and being sensitive enough to know if something is wrong or needs to be changed. Also, keep in mind that short term wins might lead to long term losses and vice versa. Raising a child is a grand responsibility, so before you decide to bring forth a life into this world, make sure you arm yourself with all the requisite knowledge needed to justify your role as a parent.

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