Perhaps someday children will evolve to be born trained, educated, well behaved, and well adjusted, or at least come with a complete set of instructions. Until then, however, it’s up to parents to steer their children in the right direction to achieve these desirable characteristics. Without instructions, parents will make mistakes. Studying the common mistakes listed below, may help you to avoid them when dealing with your own children.
Children, especially toddlers, need consistency. They must know what to expect as the result of certain behaviors. Consistent parental discipline breeds consistent child behavior. Provide regular routines for your child. Make sure that parents are on the same page regarding expectations and disciplinary measures.
Over-explaining Disciplinary Actions
There’s a fine line between telling a child what is expected and debating with the child to affect behavior. In the latter instance, the child usually wins, while the parent becomes frustrated. The relationship between parent and a child is not democratic. With too much discussion about a parental decision, authority is no longer respected. Discussion can take place at a later time if necessary. If a child’s behavior is addressed by an expected consequence, be consistent in applying that consequence.
Excessive Family Time
Children require family time. Their self-esteem and confidence are reinforced by participation in family activities. They also need time alone to experiment and create without parental interference. Parents must learn to strike a balance in just how much time they spend with a child. There should be enough family time to bond and reinforce confidence and a feeling of affection coupled with enough freedom for the child to develop her own personality.
Children need parental help and guidance as they learn. They will make mistakes and have accidents as they experiment with new activities. Correcting mistakes is important but not urgent. Let the child experiment and make mistakes. Eventually, the child will learn to do tasks correctly on his own. It’s better to offer praise when a task or experiment is successfully completed, than to guide the child through every step of a new activity. A child’s unaided success builds confidence.
Keeping Children on Food for Kids
One common mistake made by parents, usually to keep peace, is to allow the child to eat only what he or she wants. Often this is a result of habituation to age appropriate foods that parents have provided for the child when the child was younger. Unfortunately, these “kiddies’ foods” are not always the most nutritious and beneficial choice. When you eat out, go to a different restaurant from the ones that the child is used to. The different surroundings and the different menu may stimulate experimentation. If the child sees you enjoying the foods that are in his plate, he will eventually come around to venturing a taste. If you’re at home, offer him only different foods to eat. If he pushes it away, ignore it. Eventually hunger will win out.
Premature Crib Removal
My father once joked that a child was too big for a crib when he was too tall to lay down in it. Obviously not a serious benchmark for change! There are other more suitable indications that change is necessary. Suggest the benefits of a real bed to the child and allow her to make the first move toward trying out or asking for a bed of her own. This usually happens before the child reaches the age of three.
Potty Training Too Early
The cleanup of babies and diapers quickly becomes a project for parents, and a major prompt for parents to encourage potty training. Oftentimes this emphasis on using the potty happens too soon. If the child isn’t ready, the prospect can be most intimidating. Allow the child to observe select adults. Show the bathroom fixtures to the child and explain their use. Let the child flush the toilet with a small wad of toilet paper to experience how it works. Eventually, curiosity will drive him to experiment.
Reaction to Tantrums
Children throw tantrums to get attention. If their tantrum is reinforced by success, they’ll throw more of them. Those children, who experience success with tantrums, remember where the tantrums are most effective, which is why older toddlers seem to have the most effective tantrums in public places like the grocery store. Don’t give in to the child either at home or in a public place. When at home, let the child kick and scream until he is exhausted by the process. If in a public place, don’t fold to his wishes. Escort him gently, while he kicks and screams, out of the public venue and let him vent until he finds that it is ineffective.
TV as Babysitter
The television is a great device for entertaining a child, but it is not a good babysitter. Children who watch too much unsupervised television can often become bewildered with information overload. Steer the child to the joys of reading and other activities for which you can control the quality and the appropriate age level of the content. Spend more time discussing things with the child and answering his questions. Save television for supervised meaningful presentations.
This guest post is written by Amy Brown. She’s now an editor of Livesnet.com, a site offering baby gear reviews and tips on problems parents encounter in daily life. Please visit Livesnet and read recent hot articles on Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat and Britax Frontier 85 Car Seat.