7 Critical Mistakes Parents Make With Children And How You Can Avoid Them

Critical Mistake # 1 Trying To Be Your Child's Best Friend

Although it is an admiral thing to want to be your child's best friend, they do not need that kind of relationship with their parents or carers. What your child needs is an authority figure to be the boss.

This doesn't mean that you have the right to be bossy. However, there needs to be a distinction so that your child realises that you are the final authority. I have seen many a single mum with one child, trying to be a "buddy" to them, perhaps as a guilt thing to make up for the fact that there may be no father in sight.

Don't get me wrong; I am not knocking the single mum as I am one of them. And as a single mum I need to be especially careful to let my children know that I am still the boss and that they are accountable to me. This gives the child a sense of security, knowing that someone is in charge.

Critical Mistake # 2 Yelling At Your Child

I know that all of us have yelled at our children at some stage; some of us regularly, others just occasionally. What we need to realise is that it does our child no good to have us raise our voices at them. It actually breeds disrespect for you.

If we can learn to conquer the art of being non-reactive when our kids misbehave, we have learned a valuable skill to help our parenting. Once we master this skill, we will realise that our children will react to us becoming more non-reactive and will calm down also. Our example actually helps to breed harmony in the household.

Meditating each morning for a few minutes is a really good way to start the day when you are raising children. If you can put your mind at ease before you start the day, you will be more likely to feel relaxed when the inevitable happens.

Critical Mistake # 3 Not Being Consistent

Believe me, I know that this one can be really tough. I am mother to four children and at times they seem to hound me all at once. It can be so easy for me to give in their every request. However, we need to remember that not everything our child wants is beneficial for them. And often, children don't understand the ramifications of everything that they do. That's why we are the parents.

I often have to say to my teenagers, "It's just not my job to be liked. It's my job to be consistent with you". It's important that we are not afraid to say this to our child. We are not trying to make life difficult for our children. All the same, left to their own devices, they can make some pretty silly decisions.

Critical Mistake # 4 Not Providing Good Boundaries

I could write a whole book on this topic (hmmm, that's not a bad idea at all).... All children, no matter what their age, need boundaries. When kids are given healthy boundaries, they can function well at home, school and in society in general.

The real world works with boundaries. If you break the law, you end up going to jail. That's a boundary that the government puts in place to stop people from committing crimes.

I provide boundaries for my children's friends who come to play. Do I have the right to give boundaries to someone else's child? Absolutely, if they are in my house. And we have had remarkable results from children who don't always behave elsewhere.

When these kids come to my house I explain to them what my rules are. Once a child understands clearly what is expected of them, then, and only then, can you expect them to comply. Children need things spelled out really clearly for them.

Critical Mistake # 5 Entering Into Power Struggles

NO! NO! NO! NO! Don't do it. For those of you who don't know, a power struggle is when you enter into a conversation with your child that never seems to end. There can be no winner because your child refuses to give up. Even if they are wrong, they won't give up.

When a child is in this mood it is best not to continue a conversation with them. Often, when a child is angry, they cannot see or think properly. This happened with one of my sons last night. He was very angry because the computer game didn't let him win a level. He became verbally abusive and refused to calm down.

Two minutes later he told me that he was ready to talk about the incident. I sensed that he was still angry, therefore wasn't prepared to talk and made him wait for about half an hour before I sensed that he had calmed down enough to hear me and have a conversation with him.

Teenagers, especially, have no logic when they want to argue about many things. They can know that they are wrong, yet still argue very persuasively that they are right. This is quite normal development for a teenager. I am not saying that it is acceptable. But if you have encountered this with your teenager at least you know that it is completely normal.

Our job is to choose not to engage them in the argument. We need to find a way to quickly move into another room or change the subject.

Critical Mistake # 6 Giving A Child Too Many Choices

I shall explain myself. Firstly, it is a good idea to give your children choices within limits. But too many choices can become a problem.

Take for instance, the four year old that is asked what she wants for breakfast: cocoa pops, cornflakes, weet-bix, nutri-grain, rice bubbles, porridge or fruit loops. The problem is that a young child isn't capable of making decisions that involve many choices. A good choice for a child would be offering them corn flakes or rice bubbles.

What we are trying to achieve is an amount of success with our children. If we give a child two choices and they pick one, they have experienced success to some degree. Then we can build upon that later by adding more choices. However, when we start with many choices we are simply confusing our children. We are not doing them a favour.

I use this technique very well with my strong willed daughter. Instead of telling her to have a bath each night, I say to her, "Becky, would you like to have a bath before dinner or after dinner?" This gives her a chance to express a bit of individuality and freedom to make a choice. But I have control over the choices and am still happy with both outcomes that I offer her.

Not only does this method work really well with my daughter, it also gives her a feeling of power and kids love to feel in control. There's nothing wrong with letting your kids feel like they can be the decision makers sometimes. It can greatly enhance self esteem.

Critical Mistake # 7 Lack Of Quality Time With Your Child

For many children, love is spelled T - I - M - E. As parents, we must understand that nothing else cuts it. Not gifts, not food, not anything else.

I remember last week, my fifteen year old said to me, "Mum, would you please get off that computer. You love that computer more than you love me". He really made me think about the amount of time I spend working when the kids are at home. David even said to me, "Mum, I would much rather have you spend time with me than have a million dollars in the bank. I don't care about your stupid web site. I want to spend time with you."

At the time that he said that, he had just finished an hour on the computer and was peeved off that I had removed him from it. But I still took the opportunity to think long and hard. Parenting is one big learning curve and I never want to be so proud that I am not willing to learn something. I took my son's words to heart that night.

I hope you have learned a few new things today from this report. These are just seven things that came to mind as I was thinking today. My prayer is that you will act upon some of these things and improve your capacity to be a happy and consistent parent.

Have confidence in all that you do and you can only do your best. Parenting is a journey and it is meant to be fun. If you are not having fun parenting, drop what you are doing right now, go and give your kids a big hug and tell them how glad you are that they are a part of your family.

Article written by Kim Patrick

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