Monday, August 14, 2006

3 Common Parenting Mistakes

By Brandi M. Seals

With having children comes the potential to make mistakes that have lifelong consequences. Some are inconsequential; others have a more profound affect. Regardless of how much parents try to stir their kids right or make their lives easier, it is inevitable that every single parent out there will make mistakes; lots of them.

Here are 3 common parenting mistakes to avoid:

1.) Giving incorrect answers
At a certain age children grow curious about the world around them - extremely curious. Everything they see can leave them asking hundreds of questions. Why is the sky blue? Why is grass green? What is that? Why do spiders have so many legs? Their little minds are trying to figure out the world and the way it works. They want to know what everything is, what it does and why it does it. This has left countless parents in a situation where they just do not have an answer. How many people really know that the sky is blue because of something known as Rayleigh scattering? (As light from the sun moves through the atmosphere most of the longer wavelengths pass through, but much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by the gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated outward. Since the blue light seems to come from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue.)

If a child asks a question and the parent does not know the answer, he or she should never just make something up. You never know how long the child will believe that answer. For example, I was 22 before I discovered the rabbits did not go ribbit. That is right - 22. I never gave it much thought. I had been around rabbits; I never heard them go ribbit. Maybe, they were just quiet rabbits. At some point in my childhood I asked my mom what sound they made and being at a loss, she said the first thing that came to mind - ribbit. Thinking that no harm was done she forgot all about it. Twenty-some years later, I brought it back up after an embarrassing conversation with my fiance on a 17 hour road trip to meet his family.

2.) Pampering the child
It may be nice when a parent can cook, clean, and take care of his or her child's every whim but at some point all that pampering is detrimental. Ever met a 20 year-old that cannot cook (doesn't even know how to boil water), does not know how to do laundry, or any other basic skill that he or she will need through out life? I have. They are funny. They mix light and dark clothes in the wash and then bleaching them all or do not know how to even turn the washer on. It's good entertainment.

Parents not wanting to send helpless lumps out into the world will make their kids do laundry, wash dishes, and cook on occasion. Of course all of this must be introduced after they are mature enough and have enough dexterity to do the task at hand. But, if done well, these children will not only have a sense of accomplishment for being able to do these tasks, but they will also be able to get through life without having to call mommy and daddy at every turn.

3.) Not paying enough attention to the child
Children learn how to communicate by watching those around them communicate as well as trying it out for themselves. They tell jokes, sing songs, and create stories all to entertain their parents and themselves. They crave attention - lots of it. So much so that you may not be able to provide as much attention as they would like. But, if parents set aside the time to spend some quality one-on-one time with their child, the child will be more likely to feel appreciated and content.

The children that must strive to gain their parents' attention will do more and more just to gain some time with a parent. From throwing things, biting, and screaming, children will try anything to get someone's attention. If they learn this is affective, they continue it. To stop this behavior try not to focus so much on the negative things the child is doing and instead praise him or her for what they do right. If the child learns to get attention for being good, he or she will cut down on the bad behavior.

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