Every mom and dad means well. After all, all we really want is to learn how to be a good parent who raises healthy, happy children.
No one wakes up wondering how to mess up their kids each day, but often, your habits or even your best intentions can create problems for your kids — without you even realizing it.
Repeated over the years, these parenting mistakes can cause mental or physical harm to kids as they grow up, leaving a trail of difficulties that your parenting skills aren’t equipped to deal with.
If you want to know how to be a good parent, here are 9 of the worst — yet most common — parenting mistakes to avoid.
1. Not taking care of yourself
The adage, “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others,” applies to parenting. You cannot be a good parent and raise your kids effectively if you are depleted, exhausted, resentful, and/or burned out. Take care of your body and soul for yourself and for your kids.
It isn’t selfish. It is essential for good parenting over the long haul.
2. Believing kids should always be happy
Happiness cannot be given or gifted to your child — even by the best parent. Kids grow into happy adults when they master skills, become resilient, and learn to trust themselves. True happiness comes from within.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to fix all their problems. Allow kids to feel the rainbow of emotions, including sadness, self-doubt, and frustration so they will learn how to cope and know how to create their own happiness as adults.
3. Thinking being smart or athletic or gifted will be enough to “save” them
Raising kids to identify too closely with being gifted in one area can often backfire.
An injury can ruin an athletic or musical career. A failing grade can destroy confidence. Beauty fades. Associating one’s worth with a single attribute is short-sighted.
Kids need to have a variety of strengths to pull from, not just in childhood, but over the course of their lives, which is why you should avoid making this common parenting mistake.
4. Assuming boredom is bad
Boredom can be the birthplace of creativity and problem-solving. Over-stimulating and over-scheduling kids don’t vaccinate kids from “keeping out of trouble.” It wreaks havoc with their health and their imagination.
Being able to be comfortable in the absence of stimulation is a wonderful attribute that will serve a child well in the long run, so don’t make the mistake of squashing your child’s creativity before it gets going.
5. Protecting kids from natural consequences
We gain wisdom through experience. Allowing kids to experience the loss, pain, and frustration of natural consequences helps them link their behavior and decisions with certain outcomes.
While you may want to be a good parent and protect them from hurt feelings or disappointment, these lessons are how they ultimately learn not to touch hot stoves, to turn in their homework, and to be respectful.
6. Making excuses for kids
Excuses like, “He didn’t mean it,” or “She isn’t feeling well,” can easily morph into, “It wasn’t my fault,” or a victim mentality. If you make up excuses for your child, your child will not learn to take responsibility for his or her actions.
Successful adults are responsible for their behavior, so if you want to know how to be a good parent, stop making excuses and allow kids to learn that skill. It will serve them well.
7. Not allowing kids to take on age-appropriate tasks
From laundry to snow shoveling to making their own doctor and dentist appointments, kids need to be able to learn to take on tasks a little at a time. Minimizing a child’s responsibilities is not in their best interests.
Kids who leave home with the skills they need to survive, such as being able to cook, clean, stand up for themselves, make appointments, grocery shop, and even ask for help are more likely to transition easily into adulthood.
8. Giving kids too many choices, or not enough choice at all
Endless choices can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Too little choice can lead to self-doubt. Striking a balance and giving kids two or three choices and allowing them to make decisions can empower them.
Wrong decisions can be righted, but indecision is a curse. Nurture healthy decision-making skills in your kids by avoiding this parenting mistake.
Perfection isn’t what you’re going for. Learning to trust themselves is what is key.
9. Overindulging kids
Kids need limits and boundaries. Giving in to every whim your child has — from gifting them every toy they want to allowing them to act on every feeling they have — is not healthy. Kids who do not have boundaries feel out of control.
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Being able to say no to “stuff” and undesired or self-indulgent behavior is a gift. Kids need limits to feel safe. Kids who feel safe grow into self-sufficient happy adults.
You have the very best of intentions as parents. Sometimes though, you forget what you’re ultimately striving for: healthy, happy, independent kids.
Sometimes, what is best for your kids is something that doesn’t come naturally to you as a parent. However, good parents are able to take a step back and see what works and what doesn’t.
Stopping yourself from making these common parenting mistakes will give your kids the best chances of becoming the successful adults you hope for.
T-Ann Pierce is a transformational life coach who helps empower parents to create healthy relationships with their children. If you want to know more about how you can embrace where you are today while still moving toward your goals, email T-Ann or check out her website for more information.