Parenting Children: Do You Make These Mistakes When Your Child Misbehaves?
It’s frustrating when children misbehave. Not only do we feel angry at them for deliberately breaking the rules, we worry for their safety, perhaps obsessing a little about whether they’ll somehow manage to grow up to be responsible human beings.
It’s easy for us to make the mistake of thinking that punishment is the only way of disciplining our children: then the battle becomes a fight to determine “who’s stronger.” Some children respond by assuming they are “bad” and need to be punished in order to be “good.” Others end up feeling so discouraged and powerless that they lose faith in their own abilities. And a third group simply does what they want anyway-making sure we don’t find out about it.
1. Name-Calling Most parents would never admit to calling their children names, but if you’ve ever accused your child of “laziness,” “sneaking around,” or “irresponsible,” then you’ve done just that. Assigning a label to a person never motivates anyone. It just leaves them feeling angry or beaten. It also doesn’t show tell them clearly what they need to do in order to make amends, which should be the ultimate goal of discipline.
2. “Always-ifying” How often do you accuse your child of “always” doing something? What we really mean is that we are upset about having to deal with a situation that we thought was already under control. You may be disappointed and angry at your child, but saying “always” is not only unfair, it’s probably untrue.
3. The Memory-Like-An- Elephant Syndrome Sometimes parents, trying to avoid a confrontation, ignore a child’s particular misbehavior. Eventually, though, the child –sensing their parents are ignoring them – starts to act up more, forcing the parent to discipline them. Then the parent suddenly blows up, and starts meting out punishments for the present behavior, and allthe previous ones as well.
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What the heck is that? How would you feel if your boss came up to you one day and said, “Bob, that was a really lousy sales presentation you did.” “Seeing that presentation reminded of that screw up you made in 2008 with that new lead…and come to think of it, you messed up that sales call last year too. I think you’re in for a reevaluation.”
4. Love- Al Capone Style Sometimes we’re so fed up with our kids’ behavior, we decide to try and threaten them into good behavior. The problem is that this works only once; after that we’re forced to escalate, and the whole thing turns into a power struggle. Not pretty. In the end, both sides end up entrenched in their positions, with no way to bow out gracefully. And you probably won’t even remember how the whole thing started anyway.
5. The Holy Roller Syndrome Our intention might be to let our kids know how serious their actions are, but lecturing and moralizing are infantilizing and a turn off. Kids (and parents) never feel inspired to change when they are ranted at, rather than spoken with. This is not to say that you can’t tell your child what the consequences are of their actions. You can. But the time to do that is NOT when they are angry. They won’t be able to hear you anyway.
6. The Comedian is IN Sarcasm may be in on your favorite TV show or movie, but it’s deadly at home. No one likes being laughed at, or being the butt of a joke. Young children usually don’t get the sarcasm anyway, and older children either feel hurt – or inspired to respond in kind.
In short, relating to your children means remembering they are people do. Even though our job as parents is to teach children the right values, and the right behaviors they need to be responsible people, we need to lead the way by modeling responsible, respectful behavior. At the end of the day, that means we need to put our feelings to the side, and do what we know will lead to lasting change and happy, responsible children.