Last of the 3 part series
In the last 2 blogs we’ve been through 6 possible pitfalls that make parenting hard and this week I will be discussing the last of the 3 parenting mistakes that you may wish to avoid making or that you wish to talk about with your partner so that you will both be on the same page when you have children. So, with no further delay, let’s get into the next three possible pitfalls so that we can avoid them.
1: Disciplining only with punishment
The word “Discipline” immediately brings to mind some form of punishment, doesn’t it? But when it comes to your children making punishment your main form of discipline is a pitfall you do not want to fall into! Most parents focus on punishing the misbehaviour instead of supplying the tools a child needs to develop their own self-control. A child needs to learn to recognise the rules and he needs to be able to choose to obey them because it is the right thing to do. So when you “discipline” your child, the focus should be on encouraging your child to stop and think about his or her misbehaviour and whether it is the right thing for them to be doing. If you just focus on punishing your child this may force your child to think “will it get me into trouble?” rather than “is this wrong to do?” In the short term, punishment causes your child to be scared (and they then obey you) but in the long term, it teaches kids to approach life with a “what can I get away with” attitude.
2: Show rather than tell
Children are actually very smart and can be perceptive. So if you don’t “walk the walk and talk the talk” they will pick up on it for sure! Your child spends a lot of time observing what you do and what you say and they work out how to behave accordingly. Experts in brain development have said that 85% of what a child observes his parents doing will be retained in adulthood whereas a child will only retain 15% of what you have said!!! If your child sees you deliberately going through a red traffic light, for instance, but you tell him that it’s not good to do this, he will remember that you always chose to go through the red light and will probably be confused as to why you would say it is a “naughty” to do and yet you still do it on a regular basis! So make sure you “walk the walk and talk the talk!!!”
3: What do good parents do?
One of the best pieces of advice given to me was to remember what kind of person you want your child to be when he or she grows up! Then you can ask yourself if what you are about to do or say to your child fits that vision. Children learn to control their emotions by having you as a role model. So if you feel sad you should let your child know that you are feeling sad and give them a reason as to why you feel like that. Likewise, when they are feeling scared or unsure of themselves, name their feeling and try to explain why they are feeling like that (you really do need to be 100 steps ahead of your child at all times!!). By naming your feelings and theirs it will help your child to develop the necessary language that helps them understand their experiences and this in turn, will help them to deal with their emotions and thus control their behaviour. How do you do this in practice? Here’s an example: if your toddler is upset and throwing a tantrum because he can’t go to play with his friend you can say something along the lines of “I know you are feeling disappointed that you can’t go and play with Pete, but Pete is feeling very sick today and really doesn’t feel well enough to play” This way you are validating your child’s feelings, naming the feeling and by staying calm throughout the incident it will teach your child to do the same. It is also a good lesson in empathy!!
Over the last 3 blogs, I have named but 9 of the pitfalls facing parents and hope that by being aware of just these 9 possible parenting mistakes you will avoid (or at least do your very best to avoid!) making these common mistakes that make parenting hard. Little ones are a real miracle and the only way they learn is by observing what their parents do and also how their peers behave as they get older. Hopefully, by observing you and your partner, and by choosing peer with the same values, your child will grow into the adult that you envisioned for them when you first held them in your arms!
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Yours in lifestyle newborn photography
Photo credits: GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography