1. Not giving their children enough quality time.
Parents are always rushing around and with their work, jobs around the house, ferrying children to and from activities, checking mobiles and Facebook, watching TV etc. etc. Children need our undivided attention for at least 15 minutes a day. Totally focussed on them. They need to know that if anything is bothering them there is a daily opportunity to chat about it when they are ready. They need parents to play with them so they can learn how to play with others. They need parents to listen to them and help them understand the world and how it works. Children need parents to prioritise them, rather than having half an eye on the TV or their mobile or thinking about the other things they could be doing when they talk or play with them.
2. Not expecting children to help around the home.
Parents frequently feel that they should do everything for their children. They rear children who have a sense of entitlement and who leave home not able to cook for themselves, or even clear up after themselves. Parents need to train their children to help at home and clear up their own mess. Parents should understand that their role is to raise helpful, independent children who have a good work ethic and are able to contribute to society. Giving pocket money ‘just because they are alive’ helps children to feel that they have a right to money rather than having to earn it.
3. Not doing things together as a family.
Children learn so much from being together with their family. They learn social skills, how to get on together and how to discuss important issues with adults. Shared mealtimes are a great time to talk and share about what is going on for each member of the family. Outings and having fun together help the child feel a sense of enjoyment and a real sense of belonging.
4. Not spending time recharging their own batteries.
Parents are people too. So many parents completely ignore their own needs and spend so much time catering to their children’s perceived needs that they fail to look after themselves. Everyone needs some time to do the thing they love – even if it is just a couple of hours a week. Making a bit of time for yourself helps to give you renewed energy to cope with the demands of parenting. Of course, there are some parents who don’t meet their children’s needs because they spend too much time focussing on themselves – you need to reach a happy middle ground. But what child is going to want to be a parent themselves when they see that it involves only sacrifice? And what parent can give 100% of the time without eventually feeling resentful and exhausted?
5. Not spending time with their partner.
Children benefit from having two parents. Many parents once they have children focus entirely on the children’s needs and forget that they are a couple with adult needs of their own. Spending time with your partner shows children that their parents need time to reconnect and have quality adult time. It also allows time to discuss solutions to problems and rules and how you can be consistent in your parenting. Finding someone you trust to look after your children is important, even if it means swapping babysitting with a friend. Or make sure you can have undisturbed nights in. Not only do parents feel closer to one another they can keep their love alive and find ways to relax and have fun. The alternative? Possible affairs, separation or divorce with all the emotional baggage that involves. So much better for everyone to keep the relationship fresh and fun by having date nights and fun times with your partner.
6. Not setting and enforcing boundaries.
Many parents don’t know how to set rules and to help children stick to them. Some parents have unhappy memories of the rules imposed when they were children and feel that they are doing their children a favour by letting the children be children. However many children grow up with a sense of entitlement. Children feel that their needs are the most important needs in the family and they act out to get their own way. The result? Badly behaved children who are selfish and not very nice to be with. Parents (and especially Dads) need to learn how to have high expectations of their children and how to enforce those rules with love and compassion. Rewards for good behaviour and natural consequences for poor choices are essential to help children learn the guidelines. Only threatened consequences you are prepared to follow through on. And be consistent in following through – every time. But remember if children are to respect the rules they have to have a good relationship with their parents otherwise they grow up resentful and rebellious.
7. Not giving children attention for good behaviour.
So many parents make the mistake of nagging, moaning and criticising, and then when their children do the right thing they say nothing because they ‘expect’ them to do it! We get more of what we notice. Parents would do so much better if they gave their children attention when they did the right thing and noticed every little thing they did that was right, showed a good attitude, a bit of effort, or a small improvement. They would also be better not to notice the bad things but to comment on the little right things they do in between. If parents did this their children would feel more motivated to do the right thing and would be much more likely to cooperate with their parents.
8. Not helping children deal appropriately with their emotions.
Children have a full range of emotions. They get sad, angry, jealous, frustrated and want things – just like adults. However, children don’t always know what emotion they are feeling or how to deal with it appropriately. Parents need to help their children label their emotions by saying ‘you seem down, I’m guessing you’re angry that…, you are looking a bit miserable, I figure you are feeling a bit sad that….’ Children also need to know how to handle their feelings. So parents need to teach children to ask politely and assertively for what they want. They also need to teach them ways to handle their emotions – such as having an angry corner where they can punch a pillow, stamp on bubble wrap or draw an angry picture. This can help until children develop more grown-up ways to deal with their emotions, such as taking some ‘time out’ and then talking about how they feel. One other mistake that parents make is hearing their children’s problems and then telling them what to do about it. If we want children to be independent we need to help them solve their own problems so that they can deal with them appropriately when we are not around.
9. Not being good role models.
Children copy what they see. If an adult wants their child to grow up to be happy, loving, thoughtful and respectful they need to demonstrate the behaviour they want their children to develop. Some parents regularly break the house rules. Many adults also lose their temper more with their children than with anyone else. It is probably true to say that if you saw someone else talking to your children the way you do, you would be furious! We teach our children about anger management every day. We show them that raising your voice and using force to control others is acceptable. Adults need to learn to stay calm so that they can access more effective parenting techniques to manage their children’s behaviour. Until parents can control their own anger they will never earn the respect of their children. If children do things out of fear of punishment rather learning from their mistakes they will never develop an internal moral compass. I probably don’t need to mention the message some parents give children when they hit them!
10. Allowing poor habits to develop.
Children need enough sleep, good nutrition, regular exercise and to have the time they spend in front of a screen limited. Many parents fail in the basics by allowing their children to do things they know are not good for them. They fail at the first hurdle in insisting on good habits – such as doing homework before watching TV. Children whose parents can understand the bigger picture of the healthy attitudes they are instilling will be more successful in helping children to make wise choices. If we want to raise healthy, well-balanced children parents need to make firm decisions in the best interests of their children, and stick to them. Once again modelling good habits are vital if you want to give your children a healthy blueprint for life and avoid your child becoming an obese couch potato with an addiction to TV, Facebook or gaming!
Please contact Elizabeth if you want to understand your child’s behaviour and solve any problems they are experiencing effectively and with confidence.