The three toughest responsibilities anyone can have are:
- Being a parent
- Raising a child
It may seem like an exaggeration, but parenting is a responsibility that only a few can successfully carry. This is because parents play a direct role in the lives and outcomes of children.
When a child turns out to be bad, the first place to look is the home. When a child turns out to be good, the first place to look is also the home. The reason is simple: children spend more time with their parents over a long period of time, and they are the primary artists that will carve a child’s life.
With great responsibilities come great chances of making terrible mistakes.
There are certain mistakes that parents make in raising children. These mistakes have a high potential for causing a negative outcome for a child’s future.
These are 6 of the terrible mistakes parents make and how you can avoid them.
1. Grooming children as they (the parents) were groomed.
John Assaraf, an entrepreneur and brain expert, had a very abusive father. “He only knew how to communicate with fists and legs,” he said in an interview with Impact Theory while recounting his childhood experiences.
After mustering the courage to speak up, Joh picked up the phone one day and said: Dad why did you beat me so much? Why did you hate me so much? Why didn’t you even try talking to me about it?
His father’s response was: well, that’s how my dad groomed me too.
This is a terrible mistake in parenting – parenting your children as you were parented. Most parents mean no harm when they do this, but end up causing harm.
The fact that your parents groomed you with whips and sticks doesn’t mean you have to groom your children the same way.
No matter how effective you think that style of parenting was, it may not be the right style for your child. Also, times and cultures have evolved. Some parenting styles are archaic and will not work in today’s world.
You need to learn to pay attention to your own child and the parenting needs they have. Spend time to study them and the kinds of behaviours they exhibit. This will help you choose a good parenting style that suits them.
2. Trying to be the figure of control
Let’s face the reality: we can only totally control a few things.
Your role as a parent isn’t to drag your child down a path of life. Your role is to educate them on the paths available and then guide them to thread the right path.
Trying to exert control over everything your child does will only lead to frustration for you.
Another reality we need to face is this: things have changed and children are seeking autonomy faster than ever.
Nowadays, it seems like children are growing faster than ever. Right from a little age, they start showing signs of wanting to take control over what they do and the decisions they make.
You shouldn’t try to cut down their wings, what you should do is show them how to fly and where to fly to. Expose them to helpful information, give them learning opportunities, and put them on a journey to personal growth.
3. Creating a disempowering identity for your child
When they are born, children are like open books. They are open to take in information and new writings. Parents are often the first set of authors to write in that book, then the society.
Most times, what is written in this book stays there and have effects throughout a child’s life.
This analogy can be used to explain the creation of a child’s identity. It is just like an empty book, open to take in new things. Through their actions, words, gestures, and teachings, parents shape the kind of identity a child will have.
This is why children with abusive parents often turn out to be abusive; and children with parents who talk negatively often grow up with a negative identity.
The words you use, the actions you take, and the behaviours you exhibit play a huge role in your child’s early life. That’s why using you must avoid using negative and abusive words when talking to your child.
4. Avoiding tough conversations
Parents often shy away from hard conversations.
These kinds of conversations include topics like boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, rape & sexual abuse, puberty and emotional expressions, etc.
Of course, these conversations can be very hard and unpleasant to have, but they are very important. Shying away from them is a terrible mistake parents make.
Don’t avoid tough conversations with your kids. Sit with them and discuss it carefully. If you don’t talk about these things, other people will and they may end up telling your child the wrong thing.
5. Rewarding results instead of efforts
I will buy XYZ for you if you become the first position in your class.
That’s a very common statement, and it’s one of the biggest mistakes parents make. Giving rewards to children is not bad, it will motivate them to do more and work harder.
However, you need to be very careful about what you’re rewarding. When you reward only the outcome, your child may be convinced that he or she can do anything just to get that outcome.
This is a major reason why students cheat in exams: they want to get that outcome at all costs. Also, when the reward is no longer there, children may lose motivation for getting that outcome.
Rewarding the process is a much better thing to do. Instead of waiting till the end of term before you reward your children, give them little rewards (even if just appraisals) when you see them making the efforts.
That will motivate them to put more effort and focus on the process, not the results.
6. Passively encouraging negative behaviour
This is very common of the mistakes parents make. Silence, most times, is approval.
When your child is doing something wrong, you must point it out. A terrible mistake parents make is that they assume that children will “figure it out” or “correct themselves.”
90% of the time, children will not figure it out without your help. When you see negative behaviour, point it out to them; maybe not immediately, but make sure you do it as soon as possible.
This will help them adjust their compass to keep moving North.
You have the most important job…
An entire generation has been placed in your hand in form of one child. The things you do or don’t do will influence how that child will grow and build his own generation.
Parenting may be tough, but it is not an impossible task. Pay attention to the mistakes parents make and do all you can to avoid them.
We wish you a nice parenting ride.
P.S. You can join our free parenting discussion this Saturday on Managing Emotions in Children.