3 Common Parenting Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Whether we’re talking about managing a child’s tantrum, sleep training, punishments, or rewards, it all comes down to consistency.  There are tons of different parenting styles out there and advice on how to manage your children.  While I think it matters which tactics you choose, it’s nothing without consistency.  If you decide you want to take away video games for week when your child curses, then be prepared to take video games away for a week, EVERY TIME!  If you decide you want to give your 7 year old a dollar for every chore they do, then you HAVE to give them a dollar for every chore they do!  If you don’t, you’ll pay for it later. 

Children from the age of only 4 months are able to determine cause and effect, and it doesn’t take long for them to learn that what you say or do has meaning.  The way children learn is through repetition (same thing happens over and over).  Once they’ve seen you pair their bottle with the word “milk” for instance, they learn that the word “milk” means they will be fed and will open their mouth when you say it (try it, it works!). 

Here are the most common parenting mistakes contributing to a child’s ongoing behavior problems:

Empty Threats – This is the most common mistake I see parents making on a daily basis, whether at the grocery store, school, or theme parks.  Here’s how it usually goes: kid starts tantrumming because they want you to buy them that $50 mouse at a theme park and you said no.  You tell them they need to stop whining or you’re going to leave.  Kid doesn’t stop whining or asking about the mouse for what feels like an hour and you keep telling them you’re going to leave.  But we all know you don’t actually leave this theme park that you spent a fortune on in entrance fees alone!  Eventually kid stops whining.

You may be thinking, it’s not a big deal because he eventually stopped.  But your kid is thinking “Mom won’t make me leave, I can do what I want.”  And guess what? He’s RIGHT.  You absolutely must be prepared to leave the park.  At the end of the day you’re teaching Johnny that you only say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Trust me, it is much better to have one (let’s face it, a couple – remember children learn through repetition) afternoon full of tantrums and whining, then a child who never listens to your directions.

Embarrassment Factor – Sometimes as parents we are worried that others are judging us and thinking we’re not good parents if our child is kicking and screaming on the floor of the checkout lane.  If you give your kid what they’re screaming over, the screaming stops and people stop looking at you.  You probably know that this is the wrong thing to do, but it’s so embarrassing to have your child be the one laying in front of the checkout stand, blocking anyone else’s hope at buying groceries.  And if it gets them to stop screaming, what’s the big deal, at least they stopped screaming right?  Wrong.  Now you’ve taught your little one that flopping to the floor is the way to get what she wants.  All because you didn’t want to be embarrassed at the store, where thousands of children have tantrummed on that very floor before yours.  It happens, we get it, and if you don’t get it, then get in another line and mind your own business.  We can’t let the fear of others judging us change the way we teach our children. 

Inconsistency is Easier – Sometimes it’s just easier to give in at that moment, because not giving in means extra work for you as the parent.  I get it, it is hard and makes your day much harder.  So, if you’re not prepared to follow through with what you say, then just don’t say it.  Because it’s not actually easier, it actually makes everything harder.  Letting your child get what they want because of a tantrum is teaching them to act like a brat to get their own way.  Not to mention you’re robbing them of precious teaching opportunities of how they should be acting. 

So remember, whatever teaching style you choose, always stay consistent by only saying what you mean, and mean everything you say.  Your child’s behavior will be the better for it.