Parenting, for the most part, doesn’t come with a set of rules. We mostly parent the way our parents did or by what we read in books or see on television. Some things work and some things don’t so we stick with what does. However, many of the things parents do to solve immediate problems can cause long term and damaging effects on children that only act as a bandage to cover problems that will only arise later on, in a more severe form. So here are a few common mistakes you never knew could be badly affecting your child.
1. The “no tattling rule”. Many parents establish this rule under the guise of keeping the piece and avoiding their children from becoming the loathed busybodies of their class. After all, no one wants to be friends with someone who calls out their faults. However, there is a time when kids need to let parents know of disturbing behavior. Kids, at a young age, can’t distinguish between important news and non-essential news, like not sharing a toy. So when a child hear, “don’t tattle” over and over again, they simply won’t tattle when they are being abused, especially when their abuser says not to, like their parents always have.
2. Yelling and other negative reinforcement. Your kid steals something, you punish or yell. Your kid hits someone, you punish or yell. Your kid gets bad grades, you punish or yell. Most parents believe this is the way to train your child not to do something. That’s absolutely wrong. The only thing it will train your child to do is remove the negative stimulus, which is you, and basically do bad things when you are not around. Punishing or shaming tells a child nothing other than the parent yells or punishes. It doesn’t allow children to make the right decision when they are away from you. It doesn’t allow children to come to you and express themselves when they do something wrong. It only allows them to hide, cover and lie about things in order to not get punished.
3. Time out. Parents assume that the healthy alternative to punishing or yelling is time-out. However, this sends a bad message to kids that if they do something wrong they deserve to be neglected or put away. Most likely, when kids are acting out it’s because they want attention. Kids rarely ever act out when they are receiving a parent’s full attention. When your child acts out, reinforce a “time-in” where you and your child can communicate about rules and what they did wrong.
4. Family dinner time. While it seems quintessential to see a family gathered around a dinner table, it’s also potentially damaging. Humans liked to connect their habits with association. The reason they form certain habits is because they associate it with an enjoyable activity. Much study has been done to find that the reason people overeat and the main cause of obesity is the fact that people associate food with comfort. Whenever they feel stressed or upset, they go back to the comfort of the family dinner meals and seek comfort in their food. Many families place an overbearing emphasis of food and eating regimens that it can have a negative effect on the way children grow up to view food.
5. Giving allowances. A great way to teach hard work ethics and the value of a dollar is to give children allowances for the things they do. However, this has a clear adverse effect. If kids learn to associate work with income and incentive, you risk raising selfish individuals. There have been instances where an individual asked for money before helping someone who was injured on the side of the road. This training could prepare them to believe that they can’t do things to help their family or be productive without a dollar sign attached to it. Also, chores will not be rewarded with money when they grow up and have their own home, so parents are creating a false sense of reality. It would be more effective for a child to get a job outside the home or start their own business, rather than simply bribing them.
6. Encouraging sibling competition. Parents seem to believe that healthy competition between siblings is good and can motivate them to behave better. However, this practice can be very dangerous. Siblings learn not to work hard and behave but to simply be better than their siblings. They no longer see their siblings as companions and helpers but as rivals in getting their parent’s approval. Sadly, this is what tears many sibling bonds apart permanently.