Nobody’s perfect. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to be the best parent that you possibly can. And the best way to do that? Figure out where you’re messing up and try to fix it! Here are seven very, very common parenting mistakes most parents make. Are you guilty of any of them?
1. Not Planning Ahead
You know your sweet little baby is eventually going to hit the terrible twos and then the ugly teenage years–why not start preparing for them now? The best time to figure out your parenting strategy is BEFORE the issues happen–that way you can respond intentionally, instead of responding with a knee-jerk reaction you may regret later.
One way I did this was by reading TONS of parenting books when I was pregnant with my oldest. A few of my favorites I would highly recommend are:
- The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp (a MUST read!)
- Bringing Up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman
- What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
- Making Children Mind (Without Losing Yours) by Dr. Kevin Leman
2. Not Setting Clear Expectations
For parents, it’s pretty obvious that we sit quietly in church, don’t jump on the furniture or throw rocks at the house, but surprisingly enough–little kids don’t know these things until you teach them! If you want your children to be especially well behaved when you are out and about, don’t yell at them after the fact. Tell them what you expect upfront so there are no surprises. Even if you think they know, it’s worth the 30 seconds it takes for a quick recap before you go in.
3. Not Following Through on Consequences
How many times have you threatened a punishment, only to completely not follow through because it was inconvenient or your child did half of the job you asked them to do? When you don’t follow through, you teach your children that they don’t have to listen–they aren’t going to have consequences anyways. Make sure you consequences that are clear, appropriate and doable ahead of time, and then keep them!
4. Always Putting Your Children First
While there are times when baby will have to come first, child-centered parenting runs rampant in America these days and it’s a real problem. The universe does not revolve around your children and their wishes, and you are doing them a major disservice if you are inadvertently teaching them that it does. (If you find yourself being guilty of this at times, you might like my posts: 3 Ways to Put Your Spouse First and Four Ways to Raise Children Who are Truly Grateful.)
5. Not Setting High Enough Expectations
Your children may be little, but they are capable of FAR more than you know. The problem is that we never give them the chance to rise to the occasion. You can’t baby for your kids for 18 years and then expect them to suddenly turn into competant, capable adults. Instead, you have to set age-appropriate expectations from the very beginning. Expect your children to misbehave and they will. Expect more and often they’ll rise to the occasion.
Bringing Up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman does an EXCELLENT job of explaining what kids can do and why they should, and it isn’t preachy or guilt-inducing in the slightest. It’s inspiring, and I love it! Would HIGHLY recommend!
6. Always Coming to Your Child’s Rescue
What happens when your child gets frustrated by a toy, has a fight with a friend, falls on the playground or forgets his homework? Do you always immediately rush to the rescue? While it is natural to want to take care of our children, if you are constantly “rescuing” your child, he will never learn to take care of himself or deal with frustration on his own. Better to learn this life lesson in the minor things as a child than to suddenly have to deal with it as an adult!
7. Resorting to Bribery
Of all of the common mistakes parents make, this one has to be one of the most common–and one of the most unnecessary! Let your children eat because they are hungry, not because they want dessert. Teach your children to obey in the store because it’s the right thing to do, not because they want a toy. While no one is denying that a little bribery works really, really well on occasion, it definitely should not be a way of life.
Sure, none of these mistakes will (probably) mess your child up for life, but do too many of them too often and you’ll definitely be kicking yourself later!
Which of these parenting mistakes annoy you the most? Which one do you need to work on?