Every child is an uncut diamond with endless possibility. They are polished up and shine bright by virtue of their experiences. Yet, despite our best efforts, all parents will make some of the worst parenting mistakes possible. It might not be conscious, but it will happen anyway, because parents are human, and parenting problems are part of the job.
Like every mother, I have my own ‘take’ on parenting and to raise emotionally and physically healthy kids, there are a few things both my husband Rajeev and I consciously refrain from doing. To err is human and parenting mistakes do happen. But I have seen many parents are not even aware they are in error, and with no idea of the top 10 parenting mistakes to avoid.
Worst Parenting Mistakes We Always Make
While screaming, threatening and physically punishing are things we all know we should never do with our children, there are some common parenting mistakes which we keep making and they have a long-term impact on our children. But there are ways to avoid or correct these parenting mistakes. We tell you about the top 10 parenting mistakes and what you can do about them.
1. Parenting mistakes to correct: Criticizing others
The most basic and perhaps the most overlooked is criticizing and talking negatively about others in front of our kids. This can happen as we express our frustration and dissatisfaction about domestic help or a family member. This is one of the biggest parenting mistakes we are making.
Children are often too young to understand the complex emotions that drive this criticism. What will happen is that they will emulate us and start criticizing too, which can make them antisocial and confrontational.
It’s never too late to fix parenting mistakes. We believe that ‘beauty is as beauty does’, but how often do we live by it? By seeing the positive in others, we can teach our kids to overlook minor human fallacies and focus on collaboration rather than criticism. This teaching begins at home by watching what we say. This is a simple way to overcome many parenting issues.
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2. No lies at all
Avoid even little white lies if possible. Kids are sharp and will call you out. Being careful about what we speak extends to lying as well.
We all know kids ‘lie’. Tummies are always aching when veggies are served for dinner and toothaches magically disappear when it’s not school night. However, if you or your spouse are lying in front of kids especially when they know the truth, it just validates that lying is acceptable. We need to teach kids that although lying might seem the easier way out sometimes, it is more important to show courage and tell the truth.
You could be making up an excuse to a friend because you are not in a mood for a movie. Seems like a small matter, but your child who is listening will think it’s all right to tell lies. Be very careful. This is one of the worst parenting or co-parenting mistakes you can make.
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Like all couples, Rajeev and I have our share of disagreements that can often spill over into heated discussions. Again, the rule of thumb here is to never accuse each other in front of the kids or speak to each other in an aggressive or disrespectful manner. After all, we are setting the road map for our kids to manage their future relationships.
Additionally, constant fights means your kids are growing up in an environment of toxic parenting where there is constant strife that becomes psychologically and emotionally damaging. Whenever a child is behaving aggressively the first question often asked is, “What’s the environment like at home”. A happy environment makes for happy kids. This is a parenting mistake you do not want to make too often.
4. Influence of alcohol
Sure, you could use a glass of wine after a long day of work and childcare. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s not overlook that substance and alcohol abuse can impair our ability to behave responsibly. When you have kids, everything you say and do could impact them. Therefore, it is important to consume alcohol responsibly and avoid getting drunk in front of the kids.
A good check while drinking is to ask yourself, “Would we be able to respond adequately to an emergency if we have this additional drink?” It’s never too early to teach our children that moderation is the key.
5. Discussing finances
Discussing finances around your children is a positive conversation to have in my opinion. It makes children more aware of the value of money and the trade-offs we make as an adult as we prioritize our spending. In the current generation of ‘excesses’, it’s never too early to teach your child restraint and the value of ‘delayed gratification’.
As Annaya turns older, Rajeev and I plan to include her in our financial planning so she can learn to be responsible for her money as she is growing up.
We are already teaching her the value of discounts and bulk buying because money well managed is money saved for our future. But if you are having any financial issues then discussing that in front of them can make them insecure and jittery. They would internalize the stress that you feel. This would be a big parenting mistake to make.
6. Yelling at them
This is something all parents are guilty of. Once in a while, if you cannot hold on to your patience and end up yelling that’s still okay but if you are constantly yelling at your kids and they are always suffering from the fear that you will yell, then that is the worst parenting mistake you are making.
Try to cultivate patience. Count till 10, meditate, reason with the kids, put on music when you see you are losing it but make every effort to get out of the yelling habit. This is a habit that could have serious impact and you don’t want it to be too late to fix this parenting mistake.
7. You are always glued to gadgets
Yes we know gadgets rule our lives, we have to be wired to it all of it all the time and ensure we are not missing any work messages and calls. But children hate it when they have to fight for your attention with your gadget.
Have you heard your child telling you to keep away your smartphone when you talk to them? If they have been telling you that than respect their feelings and heed their advice. Minimize phone and social media usage when you are around the children. This is a parenting mistake that may ruin a child’s growth and should be avoided.
8. Lack of involvement is the worst parenting mistake
We’ve all got parenting problems, especially when you’re working parents. Nowadays, it is possible to delegate everything pertaining to your child to someone else in return for a fee. You can have a nanny, a tutor, an art teacher, a driver to take your child to and from cricket classes so on and so forth.
What happens in the process? You have no involvement with your child. This is the biggest parenting mistake you could make. This way the gap between you and your child will widen, the bond will become weak till the child starts holding it against you for having zero involvement in their life. Put in the extra effort and be involved.
9. Parenting mistake to avoid: Not giving kids a reality check
As parents, we think the world of our kids and we might keep telling them they’re the best at everything. Trust me, this is the worst parenting mistake you could be making.
If you are telling your kids they’re always the best and showering them with praise all the time, they will grow up with a completely skewed perception of themselves. If you feel that their artwork can be improved, tell them kindly the areas where they could do better.
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Praise others in front of them and tell them that they should be happy at the achievement of his friends and family. That said, never put them down in front of other people. Just be firm, kind and real. That’s how you circumnavigate the biggest parenting issues.
10. Always putting your child on social media
Everyone does it these days but it is the worst parenting mistake you are making. A child does not know how to handle the accolades on social media and starts developing a sense of inflated self worth. No, every painting, every photo, every certificate does not need to go up in social media. Let them have a normal childhood then after they are old enough let them decide for themselves what they want to share. Don’t be the parent left wondering if social media has taken over your relationship.
No parent can be perfect and parenting and co-parenting mistakes are inevitable. The child also learns from these mistakes and how you handle. These top 10 parenting mistakes can happen once in while, but one has to be conscious to avoid them as much as possible. Your children are your whole world, it’s up to you to decide what road they will take.