Learning to overcome these 7 common parenting mistakes will get you a long way towards being a more effective parent:
1) Not Trying To Fix ProblemsEither because they think that certain problems can't be fixed or they simply are quick to accept them, many parents endure months or years of frustration living with common problems. This might include bedtime battles, frequent night awakenings, or frequent temper tantrums and behavior problems in older children.
Although it may take some hard work, most problems that you face as a parent can be worked through and changed or fixed. You may need some help though. Your baby may not have come with instructions, but there are plenty of books, websites, and people, that can help guide you through the challenges of parenting. Your Pediatrician and other health professionals can also be helpful when facing more difficult or persistent problems.
2) Overestimating or Underestimating ProblemsBefore you try to fix problems, you have to first decide what is and isn't a problem. And if it is a problem, how big of a problem are you facing.
Is it a big problem if your:
- preschooler has occasional tantrums?
- 5 or 6 year old is 'caught' playing doctor?
- teen begins to test his limits, spends more time away from his family, or tries to be more independent?
3) Having Unrealistic ExpectationsIf you have unrealistic expectations of what your kids should be doing, you can actually create problems. This often happens when parents get frustrated or impatient with a 2 1/2 year old who still isn't interested in potty training, a 6 year old who is wetting the bed, or a moody teenager. So make sure that your expectations match what your kids are developmentally able or expected to be doing.
4) Being InconsistentFew things can harm your children more than an inconsistent parenting style. If you are sometimes very strict, but give in other times or simply don't seem to care what your kids are doing, they will have a very hard time knowing what is expected of them and how to act.
5) Not Having Rules or Setting LimitsYou may think that you are doing your kids a favor by letting them do whatever they want, but most younger children find it especially hard to live without any limits. Having rules, setting limits, consistent routines, and offering limited choices will help your child know and expect what is coming throughout the day.
6) Fighting BackIn the book, Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child, Dr. Robert MacKenzie describes fighting back as the 'family dance,' in which you can become 'stuck in these destructive patterns of communication.' We aren't talking about physically fighting with your child, but fighting back can take other forms, like getting mad, yelling, and repeating yourself over and over.
Fighting or arguing with your kids offers them negative attention and a lot of power over you, since they are able to trigger such strong reactions. Instead of stopping problem behaviors, fighting back will lead you to 'unintentionally rewarding the misbehavior you're trying to stop.'
Instead of fighting back, you can do better by stopping power struggles and learning more effective discipline techniques, like time-out and using logical and natural consequences, and not taking a lot of time fighting before you use them.