"Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome"...Hope Floats (movie)
Everybody has a parenting approach they believe in, and in general, most will work out just fine. Your children are human and will make mistakes while sometimes, as a parent, you are to blame but other times it is just free-will at it's inevitable finest (or worst). What concerns me most is the future generations of children and how they're being raised, from the socially impaired to the obese and unhappily medicated . How much are the parents to blame and what are they absolutely doing wrong?
The No-No List
1. Tech-sitters: TV, video games, computers, and cell phones (talking and texting) are all forms of substitute parenting and a big lack of hands-on parenting from the people who should be responsible for the job. If your child would rather do one of the above activities than run and play outside or spend in-person time with friends, then they have been overexposed to sedentary and impersonal substitutes.The detrimental outcome of this is a future of socially impaired children. TV is inevitable, we watch a lot of it as Americans, but it's still important to be mindful of how much viewing our kids are getting each day.
Children shouldn't be texting or playing handheld video games while at a social or family outing, no matter how boring it is for them. Boredom is GREAT for kids. Don't let your kids abuse or overuse any of these tech activities. Start early by setting limits to all of these. And guess what, kids get bored even using these devices and can get in some major trouble when boredom meets technology.
2. Do as I say, not as I do: You are the first and most important role model in your child's life. You must lead by example and it gives you a great excuse to become a better person. Albert Einstein said, "Example isn't one way of teaching, it is the only way of teaching." What bad habit is not worth giving up for your children?
If you have a tainted past, a little recreational drugs, etc. than it's OK to admit that to your teen (if applicable to their life) and talk about why you stopped and anything bad that happened while you chose those activities.
3. Butting out of their business: Until your children are 18, everything about them is your business. You have the right to check in on them and even snoop through their belongings (routinely and when you suspect something). No explicit snooping, like reading a diary, is necessary unless you suspect something. You also have the right to ask as many detailed questions as you need to. Some of these teen shootings, and other tragedies, could have been prevented had the parent been more in their business and acted on their hunches.
If you want to give them privacy because it gives them a taste of adulthood, you're way off track.Teaching them to be an adult means teaching them about how to spend money responsibly and working part-time or earning their own money, volunteering or helping somewhere so they learn how to give back to the community without expecting, and basics like cooking and laundry.
4. Anger: Anger is basically a substitute emotion; it masks the true emotion a person is feeling. When our children are very young, we should be teaching them to learn the words that best describe their emotions; frustration, sadness, jealousy, happy, nervous, confused, etc. When a child knows what they are feeling, it puts action behind those feelings and dealing with them constructively.
It's inevitable for parents to get truly angry at their children, but the unfortunate thing about anger it it usually comes on quickly before we have time to process the situation and react appropriately. Many times anger sneaks out because we are exhausted or overextended. Because of this, don't punish or lecture your children when you are angry or yelling. Why? Kids tune you out when they can't deal with the intensity of your anger and you are likely to over punish them and reduce or retract the punishment later when you have cooled off, meaning your kids will learn your inconsistencies and not take you seriously when you are angry.
5. Punishment versus rewards: One thing holds true in all psychological studies, on animals or humans; punishment works only short-term and rewards work better and longer. I compare this notion to the old quote about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish. You can try to control your child for a short time by using punishment, but you can teach a child self-discipline by using a fair amount of reward and punishment (more reward than punishment preferably).
Praise your children often, but genuinely. Parents who use the punishment system more than rewards often feel like they are always using it and getting bogged down by keeping track of punishments and what works or doesn't work.
Authoritative parents use more punishment and wonder why their children can't make a decent choice on their own. It doesn't teach them how to exercise their own control. Sometimes these kids feel as though anything they do reaps punishment so why try to make the right choice. This is not teaching your child to fish, or in other words giving them the tools for adulthood. It takes more time to think of creative punishments but they are far more memorable to children. Sometimes you can even let them choose their punishment.
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