\ 7 Ways You Could Be Messing Up Your Kids - Sweet Elyse

7 Ways You Could Be Messing Up Your Kids

There are thousand different books and articles that will tell you how to keep your kids healthy and safe, happy and whole. These are articles that will tell us how we should be raising our children, and we pay attention to them. As parents, self-help comes with a territory and it starts from the moment of conception. We are obsessed with reading every piece of information possible on children and their happiness. We read everything that we should do to be a good parent, from bedtime routines to not weaning before six months. Parents everywhere eat up the articles that tell them how to get their children to bed on time, to school without tears. It’s all in our interest. 

The one thing that we don’t pay much attention to, is what we shouldn't do. Well, not in the deep sense of the word, anyway. For example, we check out car seat safety and how to unblock a child’s throat if they choke, but we don't do enough to make sure that our children are emotionally whole. Most of our parenting in that regard comes from the way in which we were treated as children, and it isn't always the right thing to do. I’d like to say that firstly, it’s not your fault. When you mirror your parent’s behaviour, you do it on the basis that this is what happened to you and you are fine. But the thing is, if you’re struggling with insecurity in relationships or playing mind games with your spouse, or you think that a sharp smack on the behind is okay, you are not fine. None of that is okay. You may have grown up with a parent who was an alcoholic and spent much of your childhood in and out of a rehab clinic. Mirroring that behaviour because you thought it was normal, is not okay. 

You need to be able to do better. Do better than a smack as punishment or being put in the corner and isolated and ignored. Do better than drinking yourself into oblivion because that’s what your mother did to numb the pain. 

Do better for your children, and you can avoid making the same mistakes that were made when you were being raised. Below, we’ve got a heads up for you. Here are seven ways that you could be messing up your children, and you won’t even know it until you read it.

You threaten to leave your child behind 

Every parent on the planet has done it. The child won’t come to you when you call, or they won’t leave the park. You’ve instructed them that you are leaving the store, so they hide away. You get more worked up that you’re not being heard, and as a last resort, you go for the fear factor. Before you know it, the words fall from your lips: “Come back now, or I am going without you.” The thing is, it’s not a good tactic to use. Yes, it may make your kids run after you, but you aren’t getting your way because your child feels safe to come with you. You are threatening your child with abandonment and making them feel like you’re not going to be there for them. That’s not the way to get them to listen to you. 

Instead, try getting them involved. Talk to them about why you have to leave but reassure them that you will be going back very soon. Ask them to choose the day and give them some control over the situation. Threatening them with losing you? That’s not okay if you want secure children.

You tell lies 

Now, I’m not going to pretend that talking about Father Christmas is a lie, it’s not. That’s the magic of tradition and Christmas. The lies we tell our children should never be lies that damage them. Telling your child their pet ran away when, really, they died, is a lie that you don’t want to tell. Saving their feelings now is not going to save them later from it. You want to instead talk to them in a way in which is age appropriate. Make your explanation one that is easy for them to understand and easy for them to adjust to. Children don’t like going to medical appointments, but that doesn't mean that you tell them that the dentist will eat them if they are bad. Children need to trust you, and they cannot do that if you lie to them. They may be children, but they deserve your honesty.

You’re ignoring your behaviour 

Children are like owls. They stare, unblinkingly, at what you are doing and how you do it. Parents and adults everywhere live by the old “do as I say, not as I do”, but it doesn't work that way. Children learn that what you’re doing is not okay for them, but when they get to adulthood it’ll be fine. For example, you sitting and getting wasted every night is not good for anyone, but growing up around that, children are going to think it’s a normal thing for adults to do. If you smoke, your children are more likely to smoke. If children grow up being slapped or around abuse, they’re more likely to fall into that pattern of abuse. Instead, we need to model ourselves based on what we want our children to see. Do you want your children in a home of love and security? Yes, which is why you should always apologise when you are in the wrong. Do you want your children to eat healthily and exercise? Yes, which is why you need to eat up your vegetables with gusto. You need to be what you want your children to become.

You plan to raise each child in the exact same way 

You can be forgiven for thinking that it’s a good idea to raise each child equally. However, you will bitterly regret that! You cannot raise every single child the same because every child reacts differently to their environment. You can raise them with the same moral values, of course, but you cannot react to their emotions in the same way. You could have one child who acts very mature when they are five years old. Then the next one may not be as mature or able to handle the way you speak to them. It’s okay that your children are different, so you need to adjust your parenting accordingly.

Hard discipline when a rule is broken 

When was the last time you made a mistake? This is what to ask yourself when your child breaks a rule or gets something wrong. They are children, which means that they are learning. Their mistakes do not deserve harsh punishment to “get them in line”. Children respond to gentleness and kindness, and they become angry and resentful if you are a screaming maniac. Phrases like “you should know better” do not help anyone except to make you feel better. Parenting isn't about making yourself feel better, but making your child feel loved and taken care of. Instead of yelling at your child, explain calmly what they did was wrong but also explain why it was wrong. “Because I said so” is not a reason, so make sure that you are right in correcting them before you yell.

Enforcing A Routine That Involves Distance

You cannot spoil a baby. A baby who is crying is a baby that needs something, and the same is true for a toddler or a preschooler. Children do not manipulate. Children do not scream for no reason - the fact they want you is reason enough. Put it into perspective: if you were crying and sad, emotional and needing love, but your spouse took one look at you to make sure you were alive and then shut the door on your room, how would you feel? Abandoned and isolated, I should imagine. Plenty of research shows that children do not thrive when they have been ignored or “trained” to sleep. You cannot “train” a baby to sleep, as sleep is not a skill that can be learned. When you leave them to cry at night, or you sit beside them while they cry, all they learn is that you won’t go to them when they need you. So they stop crying, and they start dealing with how they feel knowing you won’t be there for them. Instead, respond to the needs of your child as you would at any time of the day.

Punishing feelings 

If your child reacts to the world around them with anger or hitting out, they’re expressing their feelings because they cannot articulate them into words. Punishing this behaviour essentially punishes their feelings, which is what we need to avoid. It leads to repressing the hard stuff and ignoring when they are feeling overwhelmed and scared. Instead, teach your children how to take deep breaths and calm themselves down. Be present and listen. You can do them a world of good with your attention rather than your distance. Teach them to own their feelings and react in appropriate ways.

All of these tips will ensure that your children are healthy and happy individuals.


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