That's a No-No: 5 Bad Parenting Habits to Avoid
Are you a parent who only wants the best for your child? Would you do anything for them? Here are 5 bad parenting habits to avoid when raising your kid.
Learning the Good from the Bad
If you're a first-time parent, you probably learned all you know about parenting from your parents or guardians. Which is probably not much.
Although a lot of people look forward to having a child, most of us have never had to face a challenge quite like child rearing before.
We naturally want to do our best, but often end up rehashing bad parenting habits from previous generations.
People often excuse bad habits by saying "Well my parents did "X" and I turned out alright." But people often ignore that fact they too have their own adult issues to work through. And those issues often come from bad parenting by previous generations.
Yet, if we can identify bad parenting habits, we can become better parents. And if we become better parents, we secure our children's emotional futures.
Below we discuss five of the most common bad parenting habits adults exhibit.
Bad Parenting Habit #1: Talking Down At Your Children
When we're around children we might feel like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput. But imagine what they feel like when they're around us.
As adults, we're usually already eye to eye or close to eye level with our peers as we communicate.
But with children, this is obviously not the case.
Parents often get frustrated when their kids don't "hear" them. But rarely do you see an adult get on a child's level to communicate. Getting on someone's level, whether they are sitting in a chair or are much shorter than you shows you care and want to communicate.
Solution: Get Down On Their Level
Get down to their level when you communicate. Sit or squat. If you tower over them and shout down at them you create a sense of inferiority even if you don't mean to. Getting at your child's eye level creates an atmosphere of connection and safety and enables your child to become open to your instructions and redirections.
Bad Parenting Habit #2: Making Your Kid Wear a Bubble
While nobody literally puts their child in a plastic bubble like in the 2001 comedy Bubble Boy. We often do put our children in a metaphorical bubble. The term we give to this is helicopter parenting or "hovering."
Parents who don't let their kids risk anything and are constantly monitoring their children during play actually increase their children's risk for future anxiety and depression. Hovering cues your child into your own stress. It signals that you have no confidence in your child's ability to keep themselves safe.
Solution: Let Them Take Risks
Of course, you need to set boundaries and know they are going to safe places for play. But let them take risks. Kids need to do things like climb trees, ride bicycles. They need to run, trip, fall, skin a knee and learn to get up again.
Otherwise, they learn that the world is too scary. They learn that they can't risk anything in life. And they ultimately learn to be anxious in all situations.
So, set your kid free. Take off the bubble. They'll be better for it.
Bad Parenting Habit #3: Talking About Your Kids While Not Acknowledging Their Existence
Would you do this to your friends: Imagine you're standing in a group of friends. Anne, your roommate, stands next to you. You say to the group, "Gosh, Anne spilled her coffee in her lap this morning. It was such a mess. I had to use up all the paper towels to clean it up. Don't you hate when that happens?"
But we do this to our children all the time. We forget that they are actual people. While their social abilities may not be on par with ours, they're still listening and they still want to be treated like people.
Solution: Wait for Adult Only Time
If you have to complain about something your child did, don't do it in front of them. Yes, as parents we have frustrations and need the empathy of our peers. But your child doesn't need to hear your frustrations with things like bed-wetting, messes, and mistakes. Instead, wait for adult only time to vent those struggles and frustrations.
Bad Parenting Habit #4: Yelling When You're Not Excited
It's exceedingly human to yell when frustrated. The two places you see angry yelling the most are road rage and parenting. Neither solves problems. One is quite damaging.
It's a common temptation to yell at your children when they've done something you don't like.
But if you've ever worked in a social services field, however, you'll know that most states classify yelling in anger as verbal abuse. This is especially true in the care of those with disabilities. And while most people won't call the police on you if you yell at your child, studies do show that it's harmful.
When you yell at your children in anger, you damage their self-esteem. You make your child feel incapable and worthless. This may seem like a harsh injunction on parents who yell at their children, but it's the naked truth. And not only does yelling damage a child's emotional well-being, it is also ineffective in changing behavior.
Solution: Affirm Your Feelings And Choose Your Behavior
If you feel the urge to yell at your child, turn away and take a deep breath. Try to examine why you are angry. One of the best ways to help yourself control your own behavior is by affirming your own emotions. Anger is often a symptom of an underlying emotion like fear or anxiety. If your child scared you, tell them so, but do it in a way that says you care. Then offer options and alternatives to the behavior that just scared you and set expectations for the future.
Bad Parenting Habit #5: Giving No Explanation
A lot of parents assume children can't reason. This is far from true. While children are still learning to reason, they do have reasoning capabilities. You may have often gotten the answer from Mom or Dad: "Because I said so."
If the child is asking "why" in regards to a rule or a parenting mandate, then they are already reasoning through a problem. A child may not readily understand why they have to brush their teeth. They are probably genuinely puzzled. If you answer, "Because I said so" you are squashing a chance for curiosity and learning. And, besides, you should be asking yourself why you're making the request if you can't give a reason.
Solution: Always Give an Explanation or Promise One
Of course, in dangerous situations, you might not have time to explain. In those cases, you can say, "I'll explain later, but we have to do "X" right now, ok?" You're still promising an explanation later.
People are more likely to follow your directions if you can give them an explanation. And the same is true for children.
Send a Message of Love
Bad parenting habits don't indicate a lack of love. They only mean you need to change something.
When we choose our own behavior and affirm our own feelings we are more capable of showing love to our children.
If you have more questions about parenting or need someone to talk through your struggles with parenting, schedule an appointment with HeadFirst Counseling. We'd be happy to chat.