Pitfalls to avoid
Last week I discussed discipline, control and negative labelling of your child. This week it is the turn of the following pitfalls: lack of consistency, listening (or rather, not listening) and not empathising with your child. If you are aware of these possible mistakes, you will most likely do your best not to make them!
Let’s get into the next three pitfalls and see how we can avoid them.
1: Being consistent with your expectations
Being consistent with your expectations is one of the hardest – and one of the most important – things you can do as a parent. All children thrive on having boundaries and limits – they need to know what they can or can’t do even though they will argue the point! If you fall into the trap of being inconsistent (sometimes saying yes, sometimes saying no) it teaches your child that your word means nothing. If you are not 100% committed to enforcing a boundary, then don’t even set the boundary. Let’s use the untidy room as an example. If you say that your child cannot go out and play with his friends until his room is tidied up, you have to stick with that boundary. Of course, you have to be pretty sure that he really is dying to go out and play with his friends, otherwise the boundary is meaningless. And you have to be prepared to put up with the tantrum he may throw if he chooses not to tidy up and you stick to his not going out to play! So the take home message is, set boundaries only if you are committed to them, come what may.
2: Not listening when your child talks to you
It is very important that you actually listen to whatever your child is telling you as this will create a trusting relationship. Don’t sit there thinking of the other hundreds of things you should be doing, but LISTEN so that you can acknowledge what your child is feeling. Let your child vent his anger about something (whether you agree or not!) or his excitement about something that he is expecting to happen. This will allow your child to process his emotions and also know that he can come and tell you anything. Just as you want a friend of yours to truly listen when you are telling them something which is of importance to you (but maybe not to them),so you should listen when your child wants to tell you something, no matter how big or small it may be!
3: Lack of empathy
When your child is having a tough time, your first response is to empathise. Feel his pain. Taking the time to empathise is one of the most powerful things you can do. Put yourself in his shoes. Remember that they don’t yet have the life skills to know how to cope with their anger, frustration or being upset by something or someone. Put some thought into how you would feel if you were in your child’s position. If you had a temper tantrum in the supermarket, would you really want someone to shout at you or smack your bottom? Or would you prefer a more compassionate understanding of why you were having that tantrum?
Next week I will have the last 3 of the parenting mistakes to bring to your attention so that if you are aware of them it may make life as a parent much easier and a total pleasure! Remember, whatever you and your partner decide, if you consistently stick to your decisions, then your child will grow up to be someone you are proud of.
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Yours in lifestyle newborn photography
photo credits: GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography