Our goal is not to ensure our children are compliant clones of ourselves, or to create cute little creatures that we can show off at every possible opportunity to better our peers. Instead we should strive to produce young adults who have a positive outlook and a potentially rewarding and happy future ahead of them.
With this in mind, here are three major parenting mistakes you should try your best to avoid:
Mistake 1: Wrapping your children in cotton wool.
Every parent is, or should be, concerned about their child’s safety, but over-protecting your child from just about every potential danger you can imagine is not a good idea. Children develop important life skills by playing in an adventurous way, and enforcing safety-first rules on your children at every opportunity is neither needed nor healthy. Obviously, if your child is in immediate danger then step in quickly, but a bit of tree climbing action is great fun and provides a good challenge, with an opportunity for achievement and reward. An occasional frosty-fingers snowball fight might end in shivers and tears, but being cold for a short time will not do any harm, and nor will being cold mean your child catches a cold – that one is a myth. A scraped knee here and there, a bruise or a cut, wet feet from not wearing the correct footwear in the rain – the list could go on and on forever. No long-term damage is done, but a crucial little lesson in life is learned each time. It is extremely important that our children learn how to take care of themselves, and you should encourage this without being neglectful.
Mistake 2: Thinking for your children.
Little Sally is very polite. Sally always says, “Thank you”, when it is pertinent to do so. Unfortunately, Sally never gets a chance to say the words of her own accord because her Mom always commands her to say them. Sally’s Mom, understandably, wants her daughter to demonstrate good manners, but she does not realize that she is having a negative impact on a vital part of Sally’s development – the ability to make decisions. Children learn through repetition and consistency. Being polite and demonstrating good manners will lead to your child learning to do the same. Telling your child, “Say thank you”, every time it is appropriate takes away some of your child’s ability to think for herself. It is far better to give children room to think and decide for themselves, with a few mistakes along the way, than it is to stifle their decision-making capabilities.
Mistake 3: Letting television raise your children.
Television is a hugely influential part of our lives that has a massive impact on our choices, decisions, and behavior, and those of our children. There are many programmes that teach our children good moral standpoints, but even these can be polluted with dangerous messages. Popular shows often tell our children to laugh at the unfortunate kid with the funny hair style, or to delight in the misery of the girl who looks or acts different to what is considered normal, and has no friends because of this. Television teaches our children that the bad guy usually looks like a stereotypical bad guy. It demonstrates to our kids that laughing at the misfortune of others is acceptable and to be encouraged. Some cartoons are ultra-violent and fail to show the destructive after-affects of violent behavior. Parents spend a lot of time educating their children to be helpful to those in need, and sensitive to the plight of others. Television often teaches our children to point and laugh when somebody falls over, and that is irresponsible and unforgivable.
It’s a rocky road to success, and no parent will ever get everything right, but knowing the potential damage that seemingly harmless parenting has on a child’s welfare is a great step in the right direction. Learning new skills and techniques is a very important part of raising happy, healthy children, as is adapting your methods to allow for the mistakes that we all make.