Guest Writer: Chris Theisen
As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We try to be caring, supportive, attentive, and helpful whenever we can, while also trying to provide a source of good advice and effective discipline. Unfortunately, children don’t come with instruction manuals and parenting classes are not required in high school or college. As a result, we parents are often left to fend for ourselves and many times forced to learn our parenting skills via trial and error. Consequently, parenting mistakes are bound to occur.
An all-inclusive list of parenting mistakes would be very difficult to develop since there are too many to list. I have, however, come up with a list of the top nine parenting mistakes that I have noticed in my experiences with parents. Each parenting mistake is followed up with two examples.
1. Rewarding negative behavior
Example 1: Your child is throwing a tantrum in the cereal aisle because he wants Cocoa Puffs instead of the healthy brand that you have picked out. To stop the tantrum (and to avoid the embarrassment of your screaming child) you unwittingly place the box of Cocoa Puffs into the cart and quickly go about the rest of your shopping. You have just rewarded your child for throwing a tantrum.
Example 2: Your daughter has a friend over after school on a Friday and has already been told that the friend cannot spend the night. Later in the evening your daughter approaches you and asks once again, only this time the friend is standing right there as you are being asked. Not wanting to appear “mean” in front of your daughter’s friend, you reluctantly change your mind and agree to let the friend spend the night. You have just rewarded your daughter for manipulating.
2. Providing poor supervision
Example 1: Your twelve year-old daughter has completed her homework and is now on the computer chatting with someone she has just met online. Every time you walk by the computer, she switches to another window and appears to be playing Solitaire. You ask her what she is doing and she assures you that she is just playing a game and checking her email. You take her word for it because you don’t want to appear nosey or intrusive.
Example 2: You are at the grocery store with your six year-old boy and four year-old daughter. Both are asking to go to the toy area to look at toys and books. You agree and remind them to stick together and to come looking for you in about fifteen minutes.
3. Being unapproachable or uninvolved
Example 1: Your son comes home from football practice and is excited about his performance during his team’s scrimmage. He comes through the door with a smile on his face and proudly begins to tell you of a fumble recovery and open field tackle that he made. You glance away from the TV just quick enough to say, “That’s great! Do you have any homework tonight?”
Example 2: Your five year-old daughter wakes up in the morning and has had an accident during the night (she wet the bed). This has happened two other times in the last few weeks and each time she was ridiculed and yelled at by both you and your spouse. This time she hides it and ends up sleeping in dirty sheets for the next couple of nights until it is finally discovered. When confronted about it, she says that she was afraid to tell you about it because of the previous responses.
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