Parenting is one of those things that we anticipate our whole lives. But raising children is difficult to say the least, and there isn’t one set way to raise a child. Determining what works best for your family takes time, but there are some things that parents should do their best to avoid. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s ok, but the more you do to identify what not to do, the better off you and your child will be.
1. Don’t Make Punishment Personal
When your children act out or say something hurtful towards you, it’s hard not to take it personal. It’s perfectly understandable to be upset, but it’s not ok to lash back towards your child. Give yourself some time to think about how you feel and what the real problem is, versus over-reacting right away. How do you know that you’re making things personal? Classic quotes like “How dare you speak to me like that!” or “You’ll do what I say when I tell you to!” are surefire signs that you’re handling the situation incorrectly. Help your child(ren) set goals they can work towards and teach them why what they’re doing is wrong versus just telling them they’re wrong.
2. Understand Where Your Child is Developmentally
One mistake parents will often make is assuming that their child understands more than they actually do. You would be surprised at how little understanding young teenagers have of human nature and behavior. Puberty can last even into early twenties for some, so be patient with your child and teach them the correct way to behave.
3. Don’t Expect One Parenting Style to Fit Each Child
Each child is different. This is a simple concept to understand on paper, but in practice it is much more difficult to understand. Especially in disciplining your child. Just because one child responds to being locked up in their room for a week doesn’t mean another will. Pay attention to each child’s reaction to different types of discipline.
4. Handing Out Harsh, Long-Term Punishment
This practice ties into personalizing punishment. Often times, a parent will feel that when a child really misbehaves, extreme punishment is the answer. It isn’t. In fact, this can be more damaging than ignoring their misbehaving. It will take time for your child to learn to overcome detrimental behavior, and that’s ok. Taking away something a child can’t earn back (a birthday, a homecoming dance, or any other special occasion) will only lead a child to resentment. Instead, give them opportunities to improve, even if it takes some time.
5. Don’t Expect Others to Raise Your Child
This practice involves dropping your child off somewhere (school, church, friends), and expecting others to teach your child values. The best place to teach a child is in the home. This approach to parenting basically puts your child in the drivers seat, and makes correcting their behavior much more difficult.
6. Helicopter Parenting
This is the opposite of step 6. Your child needs to learn how to make decisions on their own, but if you’re constantly hovering over them pulling the trigger on every decision they need to make, you can’t expect them to survive in the real world. Letting them learn from their own failures helps them build confidence and independence.
7. Don’t Give Up
This might be the most important. There isn’t a handbook on how to raise a child. It is not easy. What might seem easy, however, is just throwing in the towel. Giving up on your child will have extremely damaging consequences for both of you as the problems continue to develop.