6 common parenting mistakes to avoid making

Find out if you are guilty of any of these parenting no-nos, plus, tips on how to rectify these slip-ups.

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Ever wished you could hit the rewind button and erase your worst parenting moments? Let’s face it: Even the most insightful parents still make mistakes when it comes to raising their kids.

With a little bit of self-analysis, you can turn them into valuable lessons and avoid repeating these errors.

Here are common parenting mistakes you might be guilty of making — and how you can correct or avoid them.

Mistake #1: Raising the child you want, not the one you have

Most parents secretly hope their offspring will be like them — only smarter, more talented and so forth. But what if your child turns out in ways you’ve never anticipated? What if junior does not share your love for running or playing chess or become the concert pianist you had hoped for? He may also make different choices from the ones you’ve made — or wish you had made.

Raise the child you have. Accept him for who he is. Learn what you can and cannot change about him.

“There are parents who project their own failed ambitions on their children,” says Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre For Psychological Wellness at Gleneagles Medical Centre. That’s why it’s important for parents to raise their children based on life-long goals, and not immediate academic or developmental achievements, he advises.

So, raise the child you have. Accept him for who he is. Learn what you can and cannot change about him. Know which strengths to nurture, so that you’re able to point junior in the right direction as you raise him to become his best, happiest self.

Mistake #2: Not walking the talk

Children learn not only from verbal instructions, but by observing the environment and the people around them, says Dr Lim.

So, be a good role model. Mind what you say and how you act. If you want your children to feel empathy, be the first to show compassion for others. Your child notices everything — from how you handle rejection and adversity, to the way you treat friends and even strangers.

Mistake #3: Thinking we are their BFFs

So, you want to be a “cool” mum or dad. Seeking to be your children’s BFF only leads to permissiveness and choices made out of desperation for fear of losing their approval.

“Cool” parents also have a hard time saying “no”. Some 76 per cent of parents confess to feeling guilty when saying “no” to their kids. They allow their children to stay up late watching TV, playing video games, allow them to hang out at shopping malls at a young age, and much more.

While the parent should be someone the child feels he can talk to about anything, the parent is also someone who sets limits, rules, boundaries and expectations for behaviours. Such structure is what provides your child with a sense of safety and belonging.

Mistake #4: Not letting junior enjoy their childhood

Childhood is a time for free play, fun and discovery“Playing and making mistakes are fundamental means of learning,” says Dr Lim.

Expecting your child not to play or make mistakes deprives him of learning and maturing, he adds. So, allow your children to grow at their own pace — let them explore their interests without fear of failure.

 


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Mistake #5: Being kiasu

Parents often fear their children will get left behind if they don’t pull out every stop to help them excel early. While healthy competition is a good motivator, being kiasu denotes a mentality of wanting to be on top of everything, not lose out, and to win at all costs, says Dr Lim.

If we instil the kiasu attitude in our children and permit them to trample over others just to get ahead, we also lose sight of character. When children learn to become kiasu, they will not focus on the right things in life and may act in an uncooperative manner, he adds.

When children have the opportunity to plan their own work and take responsibility for their actions, they become more mature, and develop independence and organisational skills.

Mistake #6: Being overprotective

It is natural for children to have conflicts with their peers as this gives them the opportunity to learn to settle their differences with a positive attitude.

What better way to learn than through experience, says Dr Lim. If parents swoop in too quickly, the child becomes too sheltered. He may not even be able to identify a dangerous situation or know how to protect himself, adds Dr Lim.

Helicopter parenting or overprotective behaviour may also result in children having certain phobias, Dr Lim notes. The child learns to over-appraise dangerous stimuli and may avoid or shun such situations or approach them with great fear (phobic behaviour).

How to be a good parent

Set rules
Don’t set rules without first discussing them with your children. Whenever possible, brainstorm with your children to share your concerns. Listen to your kids’ opinions, they may even propose better guidelines than you.

Taking this approach will mean less frustration for everyone involved. In addition, your children will be more likely to adhere to the rules in the long run.

Foster independence and risk-taking
As parents, we try to ensure that our children are always safe, but it’s important to allow them to take risks. Parents often think of risk-taking as dangerous or even unwise. While some risks don’t pay off, it’s important to remember that some do. So, teach your child the steps to taking smart risks.

Eliminating risk from your children’s lives will only foster arrogance, insolence and low self-esteem. When children have the opportunity to plan their own work and take responsibility for their actions, they become more mature, and develop independence and organisational skills. Always let them know you’re there for them if they need support.

Be consistent
It’s important to foster a strong sense of self-worth in your children by letting them know they have the ability to succeed if they try hard enough.

Your children care about what you think, so be sure to acknowledge their progress and good behaviour, even if they don’t quite achieve what they set out to do.

Consistently focus on what is related to their attitude and effort. This will lead to more sustained motivation down the road and encourage them to repeat the behaviour.

Be involved
Here are simple, everyday things that parents can do to be more engaged in their children’s learning and development.

* Ask your children about their day in school instead of asking about their marks. It shows that you are interested in their schooling and think it is important.

* Value and respect your children’s activities. Don’t dismiss their hobbies or games as a waste of time. It may hurt their feelings and even damage the parent-child relationship.

* Provide a comfortable home environment that encourages learning Ensure your children can complete their homework during quiet time without the TV or other distractions.

* Meet their teachers and principal to establish a mutual relationship of respect and trust.

* Be a school volunteer It conveys an important message to your children about the value you place on schooling, plus, you’ll get a good understanding of what the school community is really like.

Photos: iStock

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