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10 Common Parenting Mistakes

Here we will go through 10 of the most common parenting mistakes and how to avoid them.

We all make mistakes. They are part of life and we can’t avoid them. However, as parents, we can lessen the frequency of our mistakes. How? Simply by increasing our awareness. Sometimes we don’t even know that what we are doing could be done better. Here’s a list of the top 10 common parenting mistakes. Critically evaluate your parenting style to see if any pertain to you. Take heart! Knowledge is power – change starts with knowing.

1. Talking too much

Lecturing on and on past the point when your kids have stopped listening will accomplish little. Rational arguments in the heat of the moment will fall on deaf ears. Save your words of wisdom for times of peace. Cognitions and emotions are inversely related. When our children are emotionally aroused, logical arguments will not make an impact. When we wait for emotions to die down, we are better able to access their thinking brain which can take on and assimilate new information.

2. Paying too much attention

Micromanaging every detail of your kids’ lives will communicate that you think your kids would be lost without you. Kids need to take (appropriate) risks so they can develop confidence and a sense of agency. When we sweep in too quickly, we can send the message that they are not capable, which can create a desire to give up. Give them a chance to fly on their own, but stay close by so you can send in the rescue team if need be.

3. Paying too little attention

Too much time with social media, TV, cell phones, and computers leaves little time for your kids or family. Neurobiologically we cannot simultaneously attend to both our kids and our phones. One will always loose – let’s pick our kids to be the winner of our attention. Let’s choose to really be with them, when we are with them.

4. Bargaining with your child

“If you do ____, then I will get you/allow you to do _____.” Manipulating your child to make your life easier will only reap short term benefits. Give them choices, but make sure you let them experience the consequences when they choose poorly.

5. Getting engaged in power struggles

In a game of tug of war, there is only tension on the rope when two people are involved. Drop your end, say your peace and walk away. Let your actions communicate your decisions.

6. Giving in after saying “no”

Little lawyers often make impressive arguments as to why you should change your mind. But if you do so, you will only encourage them to do this more. Think first, then talk. This will help you to avoid impulsive or irrational commands. Then stand your ground, even if you are shaking in your boots.

7. Thinking “more” is the answer to your problems

Not all problems can be fixed by doing more of the same. More attention for a child who acts out for attention won’t help. More toys for a chronically bored kid will backfire. Getting harsher and stricter for a non-compliant, controlling child will do you no good. If something you are doing is ineffective, do less. Better yet, try something else.

8. Wanting to be your child’s friend

Trying to jump right over the struggles of the teen years to the “chum years” of young adulthood will never produce desirable results. Kids need parents, not friends. They have enough of those. Give them what they secretly want and need: structure, rules, traditions and values.

9. Ignoring problems due to parenting insecurities

“Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” only works if you are a carved monkey. If something is wrong, try to address it – even if you don’t have any clue what you are doing. If you make a mistake, try again. Often there is no “right” way to address a problem. And once we can embrace the idea that “good enough” parenting is actually good enough, we free ourselves from the inertia that comes from perfectionism.

10. Focusing on punishment rather than training

It is your job to correct misbehavior. It is also your job to train your children during times of good behavior. Parenting is not only reactionary, but proactive as well. Is your child lacking in a certain area of his character? Focus in training him in that area rather than punishing him when it is absent. When we realize that there are a lot of options when it comes to training and discipline, we will be more likely to fill our parenting tool belt with a variety of tools to use as needed.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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