Raising children is a continuous process, and it seems that whenever parents think they are getting the hang of it, there comes a moment that shows them they have a lot more to learn. However, there are some universal laws in raising children that are important to follow, and just as there are things that must be done to educate children, there are also things that many parents do wrong without even knowing. According to experts, the following 10 child-rearing mistakes can affect this delicate process and should be avoided if you want to raise healthy, happy, and calm children.
Sometimes there are moments in public that children behave inappropriately or even dangerously, such as if they suddenly run to the street. The primary parental instinct is anger or fear, and as a result, many parents end up yelling at their kids in order to stop such behavior. Despite this strong urge, it is important to avoid offending children in front of other because they will think more about how other people see them being shouted at than the problem at hand.
According to Dr. Erica Reischer, psychologist and author of What Good Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive," instead of scolding your children on the spot, take them to a private corner where you can talk to them and tell them they've behaved badly, without curious ears around, so they can focus on what you're saying.
Many parents use few words when giving instructions or use general phrases for different situations, leaving children sometimes confused. If you tell your child to "behave well", for example, it means one thing when playing with other children (sharing toys and taking turns) and another thing when watching movies (for example, sitting still). In these cases, children don’t always understand what is required of them, and therefore may not do what you expect them to.
In order for this not to happen, it is important to give your children as clear instructions as possible in different situations, and also to tell them what they should be doing instead of what they shouldn't be. For example, if your child throws their coat on the floor the second they get into the house, telling them "don’t throw your coat on the floor" makes clear what not to do, but the child may be confused because you didn’t give them an alternative. Therefore, try saying "When you go inside and take off your coat, you have to hang it up on the coat rack." This way you clarify what you want your child to do and avoid unnecessary frustration for the both of you.
It's late in the evening, you're tired after a day's work and your child refuses to finish their dinner... Every parent knows this situation and the temptation to promise them ice-cream if they finish their dinner quickly. This happens even when children start to tantrum in stores, and many parents are willing to do anything to stop the embarrassing behavior, leading to a cycle of bribery in uncomfortable situations.
Although it is tempting to do this to get quick results, a situation is created in which children are actually rewarded for negative and not positive behavior. Therefore, what they’re learning it that if they throw enough of a fit they’ll get what they want, which may cause future problems. It is important to avoid this and to make it clear to children that improper behavior is unacceptable in any way, and if they continue with it, it may lead to punishment. Avoid giving "kickbacks" to stop negative behavior, and over time your children will learn your rules and how they are expected to behave in different situations.
As adults, it is often difficult to concentrate when we are tired or hungry, but instead of going into a fit of rage, we recognize the problem and rest or eat a snack that’ll fill our stomachs a bit. Just as hunger and fatigue affect us, they also affect children, so it is important to understand the source of their frustration at moments when they behave in ways not characteristic of them. If, for example, your child starts picking a fight with their sibling, Dr. Reischer recommends acknowledging what they did wrong asking (“I saw you grab your brother’s toy out of his hands”) and promise to go back to it (“You’re hungry, aren’t you? Let’s talk about it after a snack”.
This approach is called “delayed discipline" which allows you to talk to your child about his or her behavior when he or she is focused, meaning after they’ve eaten or taken a nap. So, when your children behave negatively, first check if they are hungry or tired, take care of their needs and then talk to them about their negative behavior.
Children, especially young children, have a shorter attention span than adults, so they’re not always open to lectures about their behavior. Moreover, they won’t take things seriously if they hear too many words coming out of your mouth, and instead of exhausting them, it is worthwhile and recommended to be concise and decisive. If your child is bothering the family dog, for example, explain briefly why it’s a problem, make it clear that they aren’t to do it again, and stop there.
You have to admit the truth... sometimes children can be irritating, and it's only natural that parents feel like they’re losing it because of their behavior. Although it is challenging to stay calm at times when children cross the line, remember that screaming and shouting will let you, the parents, vent, and air out your frustration, but will do nothing for your children's education.
In situations where parents yell at children there are two possible outcomes. The first is that the child will be closed off and unable to listen to what they are being told, and the second outcome is that they will get angry and respond angrily. In order for your children to understand when they are doing something wrong, try not to raise your voice, but to speak to them in a calm authoritative tone. If you feel like you need a few minutes to relax and not yell, go aside and take a breather before speaking to your child. It may not be a quick fix, but over time you’ll see the difference it makes.
“A lot of ‘bad’ behavior is about a child exploring how to get what he wants, whether it’s affection, ice cream, or five more minutes of playtime,” Dr. Reischer says of children's negative behavior. Taking things personally may also cause some parents to become less affectionate, which can weaken the relationship between parent and child, so it is important to maintain loving behavior and make it clear to children that there should be mutual respect between them and their parents.
Sometimes parents want to show their children how they should be behaving, and they do so by comparing them to other children, such as during playtime. Telling kids what you expect of them is a good thing, but it has to be done with respect and not by comparing them to others.
When parents compare their children's behavior to that of other children, they may feel ashamed, angry and resentful, which is a result that no parent is interested in. Instead of making comparisons with other children, explain to your child what you want, and when they succeed, praise them so that they can develop self-confidence and not feel that they are expected to be someone they are not.
Many parents find themselves punishing their children in a moment of anger, but most times, punishment at such moments may be exaggerated by the emotional turmoil around them. When parents give excessive punishments while they feel frustrated and angry at their children, it is usually unfair and disproportionate to the deed that deserves it. It is also often difficult to enforce these punishments, therefore, it isn’t recommended to punish in a moment of conflict or frustration.
Instead, it is recommended to write clear house rules in which you indicate what the consequences will be in the case of one behavior or another so that you and your children will know what to expect when they do something wrong. This will enable correcting negative behavior and will avoid excessive punishments given through anger.
One of the most important things in raising children is consistency, and when you break this consistency, kids don’t know what to expect and, moreover, they may think that there will be no negative consequences. When you punish a certain negative behavior and it repeats itself, don’t look it over, but discipline again and again whenever it happens. Inconsistent discipline confuses children and sends the wrong messages about parental authority. Parents are perceived as non-authoritative and inconsistent characters, and therefore it is important to meet expectations not only in positive situations but also during negative ones.