Confused by the deluge of parenting advice? Here are 10 parenting misconceptions, plus, the truths that will set you free.

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Raising kids is tough. With all kinds of parenting advice available these days, it’s no wonder we focus too much on “fixing” our kids instead of accepting and celebrating them for who they are.

Even today, certain parenting myths continue to be perpetuated when such misconceptions may not benefit our children. Are you guilty of any these common beliefs?

Myth 1: Parents shouldn’t tell their kids “No”

It’s okay to say “no”, as long as it’s not said in an aggressive or hostile tone. Setting limits teaches kids various skills and helps them to feel safe.

“You can say ‘no’ but do follow through with the reasons and what you will like your kids to do instead, says Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness at Gleneagles Medical Centre. He cites an example that parents can use, “No, you cannot play with the water gun in the house. That will wet the furniture. I will bring you outside later where you can play with it.”

It’s only natural for parents to get frustrated and angry, but more importantly, it’s knowing when to stop and think clearly even when you’re angry.

Myth 2: Always putting your kids’ needs ahead of your own

The everyday slog of parenting often leaves many parents neglecting their personal needs. For parents to be mentally and physically resilient in caring for their children, they need to focus on their own needs, Koh notes.

“It’s important that I get some ‘me-time’ to recharge and relax,” says Sylvain Thye, 43, mum to 9-year-old twins, Yan Yan and Shan Shan. “I am a happier person when I have interests beyond my children, like my weekly aqua aerobics, or when my husband and I get away by ourselves.”

Myth 3: Bribery is wrong

“I’ve been careful to not use bribery with my children, but there have been times when I’ve said, ‘If we are

ready to leave in 10 minutes, we will have time to play the iPad before we eat lunch’. I’ve wondered if I had just used bribery,” says Danielle Kanyan, 31, mum to Emma, 6, and Jenna, 9.

Look for a “win-win” solution. Rewarding your children for a specific behavioural goal, like toilet training or cleaning up their room, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, small rewards or family activities can be used to relax and bond with your child, says Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre. Rewards can come in non-material form, like a trip to the water park or having lunch at daddy’s workplace.

Don’t reward your child in the middle of his misbehaviour or just to get him to cooperate on simple things, like picking up his toys. It only sends the wrong signal where the focus is about gaining a reward, says Koh. The child may also continue to misbehave and won’t stop unless he gets his reward or worse, makes unrealistic demands.

Myth 4: Losing your temper makes you a bad parent

It’s only natural for parents to get frustrated and angry, but more importantly, it’s knowing when to stop and think clearly even when you’re angry, Koh says.

You may be impulsive in moments of anger, which can lead to emotional distress in children, he notes. Understand what triggers your “hot spots”, so that you can avoid them, he adds. Talk to your child only after you’ve calmed down.

Myth 5: Parenting well is about good strategies

Good parenting is not all about specific strategies or about punishing and disciplining your kids. It begins when parents become good role models, which includes having a strong and loving relationship with their spouse, says Dr Lim. “These are foundations of good parenting which are often neglected,” he notes.

Find your own parenting instincts and experiment with what works best for junior, including being attuned and responsive to his needs.


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Myth 6: Fancy toys are vital to good brain development

Stimulating your child’s brain doesn’t mean buying them fancy toys. Don’t let flashy gadgets hijack your child’s budding abilities for self-directed play.

Toys that help with imagination, fine and gross motor skills, and social cooperation are good toys,” says Dr Lim. Nor do these need to be expensive.

Old-fashioned retro toys like rubber balls, building blocks, clay and crayons, and even pots and pans allow kids to build their imagination as they can take them apart, then remake or reassemble them into something different.

Myth 7: Kids need “quality time”

Remember that any time you spend with your children is always quality time. It could be simple things like watching TV together or having brunch on a weekend or simply cuddling with junior before bedtime.

However, “quality time” may be important for busy parents, so learn to recognise your children’s needs and decide which areas you’d like to focus on, Koh advises.

Remember that any time you spend with your children is always quality time. It could be simple things like watching TV together or having brunch on a weekend or simply cuddling with junior before bedtime.

Myth 8: Treating all children the same

Children progress differently, so understand the needs and temperaments of your children because what works for one child may not work for the other, Koh points out. Kids under age 6 also have difficulty understanding that their needs may be different from that of their siblings.

“My eldest always whines whenever I carry and console her baby sister,” says Matilda Yow, 28, mum to Arlene, 1, and Megan, 4. “I know she feels a little left out and probably thinks that I’m being unreasonable towards her.”

If your older kid resents the “special treatment” accorded to a younger sibling, point out the benefits that come with age: “You get to ride a bicycle. You can carry your own bag.”

When your 5-year-old doesn’t understand why he can’t go to camp with his 10-year-old brother, plan a “Camp Day” at home or in your backyard, complete with sleeping bags and toys. You can also invite a few of his friends to join in the fun.

Myth 9: Parents shouldn’t argue in front of the kids

It’s inevitable that parents argue in front of their kids, says Dr Lim. Don’t keep your arguments behind closed doors as this conveys the message that fighting is abnormal.

“If you argue about an issue in front of the kids, make things better by reconciling and resolving the issue in front of them,” Dr Lim advises. Your children will pick up valuable lessons about conflict resolution within a healthy adult relationship. Never allow fights to become abusive, though.

Myth 10: Saying “I said so because I’m your mother/father.”

Avoid using the phrase “I said so” all the time as this is just lazy parenting, Dr Lim advises. But when the child is irritable and won’t listen to reason, you can stamp your authority by saying, “Stop, because I say so”, he adds.

Once your child calms down, it’s important to discuss and explain the rationale behind your decision, he notes.

Photos: iStock

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