If there were a foolproof parenting handbook out there, even the child gurus of the world would need it. Here are five super common parenting mistakes that parents make without realizing it.
Talking things into existence
Do you call your strong-willed girl “sassy” (guilty of this) or your energetic boy “crazy” or “wild”? Ever give a consequence and say, “you’re a bad boy”. What you’re doing is labeling them, and guess what? They’ll more than likely live up to that label. Not only do our children look up to us, but they also look to us to gain knowledge and information about almost everything. So when you give them a label, you are essentially telling them who they are, and if it’s a negative label, it isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Discipline, to me, is about safety. You want your kids to follow the rules and listen to you ultimately because you want to keep them safe. So when you yell at your child for not cleaning up their toys or not following directions, you are familiarizing them with your yelling. So when your child runs out into a street and you yell to stop them, what happens if they are used to you yelling- yep, they don’t respond. Keep raising your voice for when it really matters- to keep them safe!
Underestimating your child
I saw this so much when working as a daycare teacher. Parents can’t help but think of their precious little one as just that, little. However, thinking they are too little for something can hold a child back. Children can amaze you when you let them try to do things you think they aren’t capable of doing. Also, underestimating your child too much can teach them to underestimate themselves.
Making excuses for your child
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there is a valid excuse, but vocalizing that too much in front of your kid teaching them excuses are needed for everything. Making excuses is commonly seen in two different sceneries.
Making an excuse to avoid a consequence. Even if you see the logic behind a negative behavior, providing excuses for it teaches them that they can get away with something by using excuses. When thinking in real-world terms, the police officer doesn’t care if you stole the pack of gum because you forgot your wallet, right?
Making an excuse for an action. Your child is potty training, and you forgot to remind them to go to the bathroom, so they had an accident. Yes- this one might be a little on you, but vocalizing that to them can also negatively affect them. It teaches them that there is always someone to blame when something happens. Instead, a “that’s ok accidents happen” approach leads them to accept accidents or mistakes and move on. “Next time you’ll go in the potty!”
Children thrive off consistency, and not having it can be super confusing. I often hear parents describe them and their partner as the good cop and bad cop. Honestly, I could tell you who was the good cop and bad cop with me and my husband. However, we found a middle ground, created clear-cut rules and expectations, and gave consistent consequences. Having this consistency avoids mixed messages which could create more extensive meltdowns or even reinforce that behavior. If your child is in daycare or school, I even suggest getting with their teacher and understanding their policies so you can keep it consistent across the board.
If you’re guilty of any of these things, don’t beat yourself up. Heck, I’m writing it and I’ve been guilty of them all!! We are all out here trying to do our best as parents. If only they taught a high school parenting class that went a step above bringing an egg home! Hang in there, adjust as you go and gain knowledge, and love on that sweet little one as much as possible.