There is no doubt that parenting is difficult (but often rewarding) work. As parents, we strive to do what is best for our child because we love them. However, we sometimes forget that our behaviours may not come across as “loving.”
While it’s normal for a child to feel that parents are sometimes unfair, there are instances when certain issues can slowly cause resentment. If left unresolved, new problems may arise and the parent-child relationship could suffer.
Here are some ways in which parents behave that can create a negative reaction in a child:
1. Playing favourites. Favouring one child over another can affect both children negatively, as well as their sibling relationship. Instead of comparing them with each other, find ways to recognize each individual’s strengths and encourage them to work together.
2. Failing to model the behaviour you expect. Children look up to their parents and mirror their behaviour. They are also quick to notice when a parent says not to do or say something, but does that very thing him/herself. This causes confusion in a child.
3. Pushing too hard. While we want our children to excel, setting too-high expectations can cause stress. Encourage children in all efforts, and ask them how they feel about their accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
4. Punishment instead of support. Parents must set boundaries and certain expectations of children. However, constantly punishing or berating a child for little mistakes (e.g. spilling milk, colouring outside the lines, etc.) can make them feel incompetent. Be tough on things that are potentially dangerous to themselves or others. Encourage children to be resilient, polite, and kind — but let them know they are loved and appreciated.
5. Helicopter parenting. Hovering over every activity, fixing every problem for the child — academic or otherwise — can adversely affect his/her independence and ability to trust. Provide choices so your child can make some of their own decisions. Strive to give them problem-solving skills so they can learn from challenges and mistakes.
6. Failing to listen. Children have a natural desire to share ideas and experiences with the people to whom they feel closest. Parents who don’t listen to their children’s ideas and stories can make a child feel ignored. Allow your child to vent feelings and frustrations, and ask questions. Even when frustrated, parents can benefit by remembering “I am the adult; s/he is still learning.”
It’s natural that parents want to give our children what is best for them, but we often forget how it will affect their development. We can become better parents by encouraging our children and being enthusiastic about their efforts.
At Wendy Limarzi’s clinic in Windsor, Ontario, we offer counselling services and techniques to improve parenting styles and support our children’s emotional needs. Please give us a call at (519) 253-1519 today.