Parenting is an amazing, joyful, yet, long and at times frustrating journey. No matter how dedicated or informed we are, along the way we are all bound to make mistakes. These mistakes don’t have to be a source of judgment and guilt, they can be an opportunity to reflect, learn, change and move forward. A chance for a second take.
Here are seven common parenting mistakes and ideas for reflection and transformation:
Facebook vs. Face Time
Parents and children alike are spending more and more time connecting on their various devices than with each other. Too much device connection, not enough human interaction. Have you caught yourself saying “yeah, uhm..uhm..” while looking at a screen and missing a really awesome moment or a question from your child?
Make spending meaningful, joy filled, connected time together and building relationship a priority. Setting yourself office hours, avoid devices during meals, morning and evening routines and keeping special time 100% device free are great ways to get back to the important kind of connecting.
Reactive vs. Pro-active
Tempers flare, children do the most unthinkable things, we get tired, frustrated and angry. Knee jerk reactions, yelling and berating is often the auto-pilot of anger speaking and it is just not a productive way for families to solve problems or manage unwanted situations.
Learning to recognize stress triggers, taking a parental cool-down time, counting to one hundred, making routines are just some of the ways we can regulate ourselves and start to be pro-active instead of reactive when things are going less than stellar.
Scaring vs Caring
Ever get so frustrated and utter the words “you are gonna be in big trouble” or “Just stop it or else!” to get some compliance? Sometimes interactions can be so frustrating; maybe the words trickle out faster than we think but it really is scary to hear such treats.
If a child is resisting something, it is likely that there is an unmet need. Discover and meet that need first, then continue with the original task. Aiming for cooperation and taking my child’s point of view really helps me focus on being caring and not using any scare tactics.
Shame vs. Respect
Pants get soiled, juice gets spilled, homework is forgotten, all of sudden a child hears “how could you”, “what is the matter with you”, “can’t you think?” Such statements can really make a child feel ashamed, ridiculed and can have a lasting effect on their self-esteem.
Allowing children to fix their own mistake (mop up the floor, carry the clothes to the laundry room) or to simply live with the natural consequences of their actions gives a child a chance to learn through experience, which is respectful and valuable in the long run.
Comparing vs. Appreciating
Sometimes parents compare notes on milestones and accomplishments just to share and connect. Other times it can become a bit of a competition that can leave everyone feeling a bit on edge, stressed, worried or upset. Parents also sometimes compare their children against one another creating a whole lot of tension between siblings.
Appreciating the uniqueness of each child is a really amazing experience. Children excel at all sorts of different things, hit milestones at difference paces and have different interests, likes, dislikes and quirks. Aim for getting to know each child for who they are and what they are doing and not what the charts say they should be doing.
Control vs. Creativity
How often do you say “not like that”, “let me make that for you so it’s not wrong”, “that is not the way to do that” in an effort to control the outcome of some project, craft or activity? Sure we may mean well, but what message are we really sending to our child?
Children have an incredible sense of creativity and wonder. From what they wear to how they create, respecting their inner artist is so important. Instead of taking over, try to observe, take a back seat and trust the process. Reminding myself that an art project belongs to my child or that the only one afraid of what “people” may think of a certain outfit is me really helps me stay out of it and just watch the creativity unfold.
Wavering vs. Consistency
Do you ever go back and forth between decisions and inadvertently confuse your child? For example, jumping on the couch is totally okay one day but then suddenly it’s not ok anymore and you get mad and your child gets confused?
Choosing a path and sticking to it can be tough at times, yet, being consistent with certain limits and guidelines really is important for children. Brainstorming and knowing what your non-negotiable are and being consistent with them helps you and your child gain self-discipline.
Have you made any of these mistakes?I know I have been reactive at times and definitely tried to meddle in creative processes…that’s why I say I “practice” parenting, because there will always be mistakes.
Much like engineers need to review the best laid out plans, computer codes get updated and revised and actors get second and third takes, as parents we can also stop, check and create new starts. So forget the guilt, or since it tends so show up no matter what, try to let it hang out only for as long as it takes to help you see you are ready for a change.
Peace & Be Well,
Please come join me at Positive Parenting Connection on Facebook for daily inspirations, ideas and resources. See you there!
Image: FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net