Raising Children: 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Raising children isn’t easy since they aren’t born with instruction manuals. Many parents can feel quite overwhelmed when it comes to child rearing. They often don’t know what to do to discipline or teach a child that has gotten “out of hand”.
In the last few decades, we have seen a very big change in families, as well as in parent-child relationships. This change has led to some very important advances, such as a greater recognition of children’s rights.
However, there are also many controversies regarding how parents should actually discipline and raise their children. In general terms, we have gone from an authoritarian model to a more egalitarian one, characterized by more ambiguous and open ideas about how to raise a child.
There are many parents who complain about there being no limits or boundaries and admit that they just don’t know how to control their children. As parents, it isn’t easy to know how to discipline and control children in a society that constantly demands more and more freedom. And yet, at the same time, society doesn’t know how to use that freedom.
Raising children isn’t easy
Raising children goes beyond satisfying their basic needs. Child rearing is also teaching them and raising them in an environment of affection, support, and respect.
This environment should foster the development of safe and secure relationships. It should also facilitate the establishment of standards and discipline. Parents should also maintain a balance between freedom and control that’s adapted to their children’s ages. The ultimate goal is for their children to learn to fend for themselves when their brain fully develops.
Not all parents know how to act and resolve the different issues that come up during child rearing. In fact, there are many misconceptions about children’s upbringing. Some of these misconceptions are:
- “It’s better to be friends with my child.”
- “A timely punishment is best.”
- “Discipline is the same as punishment.”
- “Parents are to blame for how their children turn out.”
Three common mistakes to avoid when it comes to raising children
Inconsistency is a lack of coherence in the different strategies employed in controlling, supervising, and disciplining children. Inconsistent parents change the rules in unpredictable ways based on different internal or external factors (e.g. the presence or absence of the other parent).
In these cases, the guidelines are established to a greater extent by both parents’ moods rather than by their children’s behavior. The problem is that there’s no systematic plan to correct inappropriate behavior. This inconsistency can manifest itself in the following ways:
- Rules and discipline are used arbitrarily at different times. This is when parents make unpredictable changes in their expectations and also in the consequences of bad behavior or rule breaking.
- Disproportionate reactions to the child’s positive or negative behavior (e.g. punishing appropriate behaviors while rewarding inappropriate behaviors).
- They give in to the child’s requests, which is basically like rewarding them for unacceptable behavior.
- There is an inconsistency between the two parents. The father and mother act in contradictory ways regarding basic disciplinary rules and in how they discipline or punish their children when they break those rules.
Excessive tolerance and letting children get away with things can also be problematic. Children need structure in their environment. They need rules of conduct, discipline, and supervision.
Excessive permissiveness or tolerance can generate feelings of confusion and anxiety in children. This can lead to serious problems in the establishment of long-term limits. This permissiveness can also arise due to the parents’ ignorance and lack of involvement.
Parents sometimes don’t know anything about their children’s activities, who their friends are, or how they’re doing at school. In addition to that, they may not know what their hobbies are or the things they like or don’t like.
Lack of flexibility
Rigidity, or lack of flexibility, involves using a very limited range of educational strategies. These strategies are applied indiscriminately to all types of inappropriate behaviors. Excessively rigid and inflexible parents are unable to take into account the different factors that contributed to how their children behaved.
In addition, they’re unable to adjust their ways of dealing with bad behavior and the severity used in punishments.
Over-protection can also be a form of rigidity. For parents, over-protection can be a way to control their own anxiety when they don’t know what to do. For children, it can be an obstacle to developing appropriate coping strategies. It can also create insecurity and lack of self-confidence.
It’s advisable to provide children opportunities to do things for themselves. There’s no need to supervise and control them in every single situation. Children only need supervision when they’re still not ready to do certain things by themselves. We have to let them solve things themselves and even make mistakes. They need to understand the consequences of many of their actions in order to grow and learn.
From a biological point of view, being a parent can be a simple task. However, being a parent from a psychological point of view can be a real challenge. If we avoid these three basic and extremely common mistakes, then we’ll be a little closer to raising self-confident, prepared children.