1. You pick out a parenting “style” before having children and broadcast it to the world
From bragging about how you will exclusively breastfeed to avoiding issues with domestic workers, and not disciplining children, we have all heard it before. Learn your child before you choose your lessons.
2. You don’t allow your children to play and explore
How many times have you heard mama Jason scold her kids for playing in the mud? Children learn through play, and play includes struggling, making mistakes and even getting some bumps and bruises along the way. If we are constantly guarding, guiding and correcting their playtime, they will be afraid to try new things and, more importantly, they will not learn how to correct or soothe themselves.
3. You react out of embarrassment instead of responding to the true situation
Letting your child eat with their hands rather than cutlery at home may be cool with you, but what happens when you go to a restaurant and they eat with their hands? I can picture you cringing with embarrassment.
That sends mixed signals and will only set you both up for failure.
4. You blame your child for your reaction
“unajua wewe ndio umefanya nikupigie makelele? This teaches your child to blame others for his/her own actions. Is a 2-year-old really responsible for you choosing to yell at them? Can the mistake of a toddler take away all the fun you had earlier in the day? Own your decisions and choose your words parents: “I’m yelling because I feel frustrated right now.” Then, give them the power by asking them what they can do to help get back on track.
5. You make unrealistic and idle threats
Chances are, you won’t really leave your child at the mall alone and you certainly are not going to break his/her arm if he/she doesn’t stop pulling things off the shelves. So don’t even say it! You are teaching your children to make threats to get their way and you’re telling them that you can’t be trusted to tell the truth. If you are going to make threats, be sure they are things you can realistically follow through with, which brings me to the next big mistake…
6. You don’t follow through on consequences
Make sure your children know what will happen if they get counted out. “I’m going to count to three and you had better sit down.” Then what? So after the third time of complying, they decide to see what you’re made of, then the negotiation begins.
Have a better plan; set agreements in advance and stick to them. “We will be at the playground until 3 p.m. and then we will go get pizza for lunch! If you fight with me when it’s time to leave, there will be no pizza. Do you understand?” Then, it’s simply a matter of following through.
7. You end your requests or commands with “OK?”
This is an easy one. If “no” is not an acceptable answer, then don’t ask if they are OK with it. “It’s time for us to start getting ready to leave. You have two more minutes to play.” Period. You can do it.
8. You tell your child it’s not his/her fault even if it really is
If Suzy pushes Billy off of gate and Billy starts crying and says he doesn’t like Suzy any more, comforting the crying Suzy by telling her it’s not her fault is neither serving Suzy’s emotional intelligence nor is it honoring Billy’s feelings. Suzy needs to know that her actions affect the people around her and sometimes, we make poor choices.
The better thing to do is to ask Suzy, “Billy is hurt and sad right now, what would you like to do to make this better?” She may not respond by walking over and apologizing right away, but maybe she’ll make him a card or ask him to play something else. Let the apology be her own, but acknowledge the effort.
9. You compare other people’s kids to your own—in front of your children
in Kenya, this is something we would call child shaming. You must have heard a parent at some point scream at their child comparing them to aki nani’s kid.