You're doing your best to raise well-balanced, healthy, happy children, but sometimes you wonder, ''am I really helping them?''. Good parents do exactly this; they wonder, question, reflect upon their actions and behaviours, acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them.
It goes without saying that parenting is a hard enough task by itself; especially parenting in the 21st century. The Internet, smart phones, changes in the nuclear family, these and many other factors, have radically changed the way parents raise their children. Parents are somewhat 'forced' to encourage their children to grow up quicker and learn at an early age how to cope with the challenges of contemporary life. Parents are also pressured to develop certain habits that their culture has long defined as 'good parenting' habits, but, in actual reality, they might not be so good at all. Parental peer pressure (i.e. peer pressure from other parents) can push parents to raise their children in a way that actually hinder them from developing into well-rounded individuals.
Every parent has the power to help their children succeed in life. The question is: How? You'll probably find the answer in a combination of common sense and credible research about how to raise well-rounded children and prepare them intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially for success in life. This journey, more often than not, involves making mistakes. Several studies, throughout the years, have consistently pointed out that most parents end up making the same kind of mistakes:
Mistake 1: many parents overparent
In simple terms, overparenting is overprotecting. This entails parents smoothing their children's path, removing obstacles, not letting their children fail, giving them what they should earn and doing things for them. For children this means that they will learn to give up easily without trying, they will lack patience, persistence and diligence and they will become lazy and unmotivated.
Mistake 2: many parents project their lives on their children
Many parents project their fears, ambitions, desires, thoughts and mentalities onto their children , as if they are trying to live their lives through their children. It is important that parents teach their children how to be themselves, not what they, as parents, want their children to be.
Mistake 3: many parents try to 'optimise' their children
It is quite sensible that parents want their child to be the best and to excel in pretty much anything. However, parents need to think that their children are not objects, but human beings with feelings. Those parents who try to make their children 'better', will only succeed in encouraging them to develop into anxious, underconfident and selfish individuals.
Mistake 4: many parents praise the wrong things
Many parents tend to focus on praising the wrong things, such as their children's looks and smarts, instead of their behaviours, actions and virtues. When praising, parents should praise the behaviour and action, not the child.
Mistake 5: many parents are inconsistent
Many parents fail to be consistent with setting rules . Parental inconsistency can be a major source of children's negative behaviour. It is often said that it's better to have no rules, than to have rules that are inconsistently enforced. This is because when parents are inconsistent, children are conditioned to challenge authority and break rules.
Mistake 6: many parents confuse discipline with punishment
Many parents confuse discipline that is used to teach and guide, with punishment that is used to control and pay for what the child did .
Mistake 7: many parents don't admit their mistakes
Many parents aren't good at admitting their mistakes to their children. Parents should learn to tell their children that what they did was wrong as well as what they will do to make it right. In this way, parents can set a good example and act as a role model for their children.
Having read through these common parental mistakes, have you started thinking about which ones you're already making?; which ones you feel you would probably make?; which ones you consider the most harmful?, and so on? It would be helpful to ponder over your 'child-rearing philosophy', look for reliable, evidence-based information and reflect upon your mistakes, as mistakes are bound to happen. As I used to say (and keep saying) to my students and their parents: ''It's good when you make mistakes, and it's even better when you correct them'', or as Winston Churchill had said: ''All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes''.