Common Parenting Errors

Common Parenting Errors
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 31-03-2023

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In parenting, everything is easier said than done. It is one of the most challenging aspects of adult life where parents are faced with immense pressures on one hand and special rewards on the other. All a parent wants is to see their child happy, healthy, and successful. Thus, they practice parenting in different ways to meet these aspirations.

Parenting in no way follows a strict manual or set of guidelines that indicate exact instructions. Most parenting practices are a mix of different things; personalities of parents and children, communication dynamics in the family, previous experiences, etc. And although parenting is all about focusing on children and their well-being, it can also include certain practices that might do more harm than good.  The word “errors” is used only to convey the nature of certain practices.

Therefore the following are simple observations that can help parents in different circumstances:

  • Fearing failure: As parents, it is natural to feel a sense of responsibility to make our children smart, active, confident, and successful. Parents choose the “right” schools, subjects for study, friends, colleges, jobs, and the list goes on. But what might be missed in all this is that allowing children to fail is as beneficial as succeeding. By all means, prepare them to give their best to tasks. And if they fail, discuss it with them; what they can learn, and take away from the incident. This exercise can help them know that failing at things is not the “end all” of everything. Rather, it is a learning experience that gives them more information about themselves and the world around them.

  • Maintaining unrealistic expectations: Of course, parents want to see their children do well in life and there is nothing wrong with that. But it is important to know your child before expecting them to do well at something. Often, parents end up making generalizations about their kids’ potential based on the performance of other children. For example, “Your brother is doing so well in sports so should you”, “your class partner scored 90% marks in Maths, why couldn’t you”. All these observations have nothing to do with the child. They are related to other children or people surrounding him or her. Exploring your child’s strengths and weaknesses definitely helps in this regard. That way, you will be able to give your child better encouragement for doing things they want to do or/and are actually good at.

  • Inconsistency: One important dilemma facing most parents is staying true to what they said to their children. So telling your child to do things one way and choosing to do the opposite may leave them confused. For example, parents try and teach their children to watch their tone and be polite. But they often lose their cool and speak rudely with others, themselves. Following what you would like your children to learn and imbibe is more effective mostly.

  • Overindulgence: Saying “No” to your children is probably one of the hardest things a parent has to do. Especially when they are younger. But, avoiding doing so can lead to children feeling that they can get their way most of the time. It is important to remember that stopping your children from certain things doesn’t make you a bad parent, no matter how it feels at the exact moment. Give yourself enough time to think through, use encouraging words to convey your point, and be patient. Your children will be able to identify your intentions gradually.

  • Vicarious Living: Life can be difficult for so many of us. And sure, that may mean that some of our plans don’t work, or some dreams don’t reach fruition. But that is your personal journey. Often parents find themselves attracted to the idea of pushing their children to continue on their path instead. However, living your dreams through your children will only complicate things for them as they might not get the chance to explore their own interests.  

These observations are only a few of the things parents can consider in their relationship with their children. As parents, you offer your unconditional love and support to your children in more ways than one. Hence, consider these as some steps to assist you in your efforts.

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