Any good parent wants the best for their children. But what if some of the parenting things that you think you’re doing right ends up backfiring on you in the long run, would you still do them? Here are 11 ways that many parents think they’re helping their kids, but could actually be hurting them in the long run.
1. Spoiling them with excessive gifts. – I see parents who spoil their children with expensive gifts all the time, and they do it with pride, not realizing the repercussions. A lot of the times, parents are overspending on children because they feel guilty for not spending enough time with them, or because they want to give them all the things they didn’t have as children. It’s a great thing to reward your children with gifts, especially when they’re doing the right things, but make sure the gifts are warranted. Don’t spend an excessive amount of money for the latest Jordan’s or an expensive IPhone, even if you can afford it, when your child is having behavior problems and bad grades at school. You will do more harm than good in the long run. I’ve seen spoiled kids grow up and go out into the real world and land themselves in excessive debt because they thought money grew on trees. It’s our jobs as parents to teach our kids the value of a dollar. Give them rewards, but make sure they earn it by doing things like extra chores or getting good grades. And even then, you should be teaching your kids the importance of saving. Don’t just blindly give them an allowance, make sure they save some, spend some on the things they want, and are also making donations as well. A good way to do this with small children is for every new toy they get, make them donate an old one to charity. Continue this habit as they get older, and they will realize that nothing in life is handed to them.
2. Saying yes to their every request. Why do we feel guilty for saying no to our children. We set unrealistic expectations when we make our children believe they can have everything they want all the time. Some kids will whine and cry until they get their way, and when parents give in, they set a bad example for their kids. When we give in, we are encouraging negative behavior. As they go through life, they will realize that they can’t always have everything they want, and acting out because of it will only make matters worse. Saying no sometimes can be a good thing because it teaches our children that even though they may experience rejection, they must learn how to accept it and move on. Building resiliency in our kids will ensure they grow up to be well rounded adults.
3. Doing everything for them. We may think we’re helping our kids by doing everything for them, like cleaning up after them or giving them the answers to their homework assignment. Sometimes it’s easier for us to just do it ourselves instead of training our kids to do it and possibly mess something up. If you think about it, that’s actually a lazier way of parenting. Chores are a regular part of life and it’s a great way to teach your kids to take ownership and responsibility for their own things. Chores can be started as early as 1 years old and increase based on age and ability. You may start at 1 by making them put their toys away in a basket at the end of the day and by the time they’re 10, they can start doing their own laundry. Of course you want to consider their abilities when assigning them chores, but we hinder their growth when we do the things for them that they are fully capable of doing for themselves. Your kids won’t always have you around, so do them a favor and make sure you’re teaching them how to do things for themselves.
4. Not making them take responsibility/ownership: Of course we feel the need to defend our children when we feel like they’re being attacked, but we’ve turned into a generation that’s less trusting of the adults that we entrust with caring for our children. Sometimes news outlets will highlight stories of teachers and childcare providers who mistreat children, but those isolated cases are rare. The majority of your child’s caregivers are looking out for the best interest of your child. When teachers report bad behavior or failing grades, parents have a tendency to blame the teachers instead of making the child take responsibility for their behavior. When you allow your child to pass blame on everyone else instead of taking responsibility for themselves, they grow up to be less than honorable adults who blame everyone else for their failures in life instead of taking ownership. There will be times when you’ll have to defend your child, but look at every incident in its entirety before jumping to conclusions and immediately siding with your child.
5. Living out your dreams through them. I see this happen all too often. Pushing your kids too hard to do something that you’ve always dreamt about. Some kids need more direction and motivation than others, so encourage your kids to make good decisions and lead them in the right direction, but don’t force them to live out your dreams. You’ll know if you’re putting too much pressure on them to become the next Beyoncé’ or the next Steve Jobs. Allow your kids to figure out their own passion and live their own dreams. They will be happier in the long run when they’re working towards something they actually want to do.
6. Not allowing them to make mistakes. Any good parent wants to protect their children. But we can also stunt their growth and development when we are too overprotective. Give them the freedom to explore and make mistakes, and they will only grow from them. Let your three year old play on the playground equipment without hovering over him the entire time. Of course it’s important for you to keep a watchful eye on them, but allow them to fall down sometimes too. It builds confidence in their ability. You can’t protect them from every single thing. And you don’t always have to come to the rescue when your child messes up either. If your child is always accidentally leave their book bag or gym clothes at home, but they are old enough to know better, don’t come to their rescue by bringing it to them. Allow them to understand the consequences of their action, so they will know the importance of being responsible.
7. Sheltering them: We want to protect our kids from all the bad things that go on in the world so there are some things that we would never expose our kids too. Some parents take that protection of the outside world to the extreme and censor everything from their children. I’m not talking about your obvious forms of censoring like R-rated movies, sexually explicit content, and excessive cursing in music either, I’m talking about the parents who censor their kids from everything that goes on in the outside world. I’m talking about the types of parents who won’t let their child out of their site, no matter the age or maturity level. These parents may homeschool solely because they don’t want to expose their kids to other children, or they may not allow their teenagers to hang out with friends because they fear something will happen to them. As much as we want to protect our kids, the reality is we can’t protect them from every single thing in the world and when we do this, we will either instill fear in them or create children who will later rebel against their sheltered upbringing. It’s best to give your children an appropriate level of exposure to the real world so they can be prepared when they have to go out into the world on their own, because it will happen one day.
8. Constantly correcting them- It’s easy to point out to your children all the things they are doing wrong, like not cleaning their rooms, or leaving toothpaste on the bathroom sink. It’s our jobs as parents to correct negative behavior and teach our children the right things to do. While it’s important for us to correct negative behavior, it’s equally, if not more important to let your kids know what they are doing right too. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to utilize and as a parent, we should be doing this on a daily basis. You want your kids to have confidence in their ability to do the right thing. Instead of nagging and constantly telling them all the things they’re doing wrong, you want them to know that you notice all of the things they are doing right too. When we encourage our children’s good behavior and compliment them on it, it makes them more confident and they’ll want to continue that positive behavior. Try finding something every day to compliment your child on, like “Thanks for cleaning your room today without being asked” or “You did a great job on your school project, way to go”. Make the compliments appropriate based on the age of your child and make them sound realistic. Don’t just give them generic praise like “good job” or “way to go”, make your compliments more specific and age appropriate. You may say to your 15 year old “thank you for helping your grandmother cut her grass today, you know she’s getting older and will be needing more help from you.”
9. Not following through on the rules: One of the biggest mistakes we can make as parents is not following through on the rules we have set in place. Don’t tell your kid’s things like, “the next time you misbehave in class I’m taking away all your electronics for two weeks”, but then when they misbehave you just yell at them instead of taking away the electronics. Or even worse, you punish them for two weeks, but decide to give them the electronics back after only 5 days because you feel sorry for them. Follow through on your rules, or else your kids will not respect them. They’ll know that you’re all words and no action.
10. Too many rules: Rules are important because they teach our kids right from wrong, but when there are too many rules it can be counterproductive. When we place too high of an expectation on our children they can become stressed out, and live in misery. I’ve seen some kids live in fear, and other kids become sneaky and rebellious because they have too many rules. Kids need balance so make sure you set rules, but that your expectations are realistic. Have two way conversation about why certain rules are in place. Listen to your children and their input. Children are people too and they have feelings. At the end of the day, as parents, whatever we say goes, but instill confidence in your children by letting them know that what they have to say is important to you. They need to know that there are rules to life, but there is also room for fun too, so be reasonable.
11. Trying too hard to be their friends: These parents are the complete opposite of the parents that have too many rules. They have too little rules, which can be just as bad as having too many rules. I’ve seen parents condone foul language, or parents that laugh and cheer while their kids are twerking, which is absurd to me. They don’t want to be too strict on their kids because they want to be the cool parent in order to make sure their kids like them. Don’t be ridiculous. You want to have a good relationship with your kids and make your kids comfortable enough to want to talk to you, but you also don’t want to be so lax that they lose all respect for themselves and other adults. Kids need boundaries so it’s more important for you to teach them right from wrong than it is to be their BFF. Have age appropriate fun with your kids but also let them know the importance of having discipline and respect.
Parents, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, and childcare providers let’s talk. This list is not all inclusive. Tell us some of the things you’ve witnessed where parents think they’re helping their children but may actually be hurting them in the long run.by