• 7 Parenting Missteps That May Do More Harm Than Good to Your Child's Future

    Parents are only humans so slipping up sometimes is only natural. Now how to deal with it when it happens
    by Kate Borbon .
7 Parenting Missteps That May Do More Harm Than Good to Your Child's Future
PHOTO BY iStock
  • There’s no question that parenting is a fulfilling but tough business. Parents are doing their best for sure so that their children are raised to become well-rounded adults. That said, moms and dads can still slip up sometimes—and usually, those mistakes can be very subtle and delicate to correct right away. Read on about some of those common blunders.

    Overdoing positive reinforcement

    Don’t get us wrong — there is absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally singing praises to your child whenever he does good deeds. However, do it mindfully and in such a way that will encourage your child to continue doing good behavior and not cause them to build a sense of entitlement.

    One way to avoid entitlement in kids when you praise is to focus on the process that led them toward achieving that good deed, rather than on the outcome of that process. For example, when your child tries to help you do chores at home, you can praise him this way: “I love how you’re trying your best to help me finish the chores.” Even if the outcome is not ideal, you still recognize your child's effort, and it encourages him to keep acting that way.

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    Teaching kids to fear mistakes and failure

    Parents want to help their children out as much as they can, whether that involves homework or decision making. But it can prevent kids from experiencing failure or making mistakes, which poses serious consequences as they grow up.

    According to Jessica Lahey, a teacher, a writer for the Atlantic and the New York Times, and the author of the book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, “[T]oday’s overprotective, failure avoidant parenting style has undermined the competence, independence, and academic potential of an entire generation.”

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    When parents involve themselves in situations that children should be allowed to figure out by themselves, the child’s ability to make decisions and to learn how to be resilient and persevering are weakened.

    Children should be encouraged not to fear mistakes and see those as opportunities to learn to do better in the future instead to instill resilience. Building this life skill now will help them later on in life to cope with frustrating situations. It will allow them to become more competent and persevering in achieving the goals they set for themselves.

    Treating your child as a confidant

    Given how overwhelming parenting can be, you may not even notice talking about the stress you feel with your child. But the person you should turn to is someone who can understand what you are going through — in other words, someone who is not your child.

    James Lehman, MSW, explains why you should not make your child your confidant: “[I]t’s ineffective because the child is not morally, emotionally or intellectually prepared to play that role.” They won't understand whatever issue you may be talking about, much less offer insight that will actually be helpful to you.

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    Pressuring your child to excel in academics may lead to them learning to measure their self-worth through the achievements they make.
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    Focusing too much on your child's grades

    While all parents want their kids to do well in school, there is a fine line between encouraging them to study well and mounting pressure on them to always be the best. For one, your child might begin to measure their self-worth on the achievements they make academically, thinking that you will love them more if they get high grades and less if they get low grades. Your child might also learn to fear failure and make them unwilling to try new things if they think that they will fail at it.

    Amy Morin, LCSW, a psychotherapist and lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, also cites other long-term consequences of pressuring kids to excel in school, including higher rates of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, self-esteem problems, and an increased likelihood of cheating to get the desired result.

    Comparing a child with their siblings

    You may be their parent, but it is inevitable your kids will have a lot of differences in personality, behavior, and temperament. And while these differences become more pronounced with time, it is better for parents to try not to remark on those because they can be misconstrued favoring one sibling over another.

    “It is easy for a child to think that he is not as good or as loved as his sibling when you compare them,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) writes. “Remember, each child is special. Let each one know that.”

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    Being too strict about food

    Healthy diets are crucial to ensure that kids grow up healthy. Therefore, when preparing your child’s meals, it is essential to include the kinds of foods that will provide them the nutrition and energy they need for every day. However, this does not mean that parents should prohibit certain foods that may not be as nutritious, such as sweets and fatty snacks. The AAP writes that doing this might only cause kids to crave for those foods even more.

    Imposing overly rigid food rules on your kids might also just promote unhealthy eating behaviors on your kids or even predispose them to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, especially when they become adolescents. To resolve this, remember that it is okay to give your children sweets and higher-fat snacks every now and then—as long as they are consumed in moderation.

    Not saying sorry

    An unfortunate truth in our society is many adults believe that they don’t have to apologize to their kids, perhaps because they think that doing so will diminish their children's respect for them. But according to Psychology Today, learning to apologize to your kids is actually a great way to teach them several valuable lessons, such as learning to accept responsibility and that it is entirely okay to make mistakes.

    Furthermore, saying sorry to your kids is a great way to model accountability, which is very important, seeing that children learn best from the behavior they see their parents do. “Parents’ ability to acknowledge mistakes and accept responsibility for actions is imperative in helping their children to do the same,” the website reads.

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