Despite our best efforts, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. We will make mistakes more than once when we’re raising kids, and some of those missteps can really hold our children back from becoming independent and the leaders they were born to be.
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Check out the following seven parenting behaviors that can hamper your child’s independence as an adult, some of which you may already be doing. By taking action and changing course now, you can steer your parenting ship and your child into the right future.
1. Not Letting Your Child Experience Risk
Our world is full of warnings, from what to wear and do, to even what food dyes are safe according to science this week. All these safety precautions elevate your fear of losing your child, so you naturally want to do whatever you can to protect them.
Protecting your child is part of your job, but when it’s taken too far, it can have an adverse effect because you’re not allowing your son or daughter to engage in healthy risk-taking behaviors. Children need to fall sometimes; otherwise, they won’t see it as normal.
Your teen may need to have a break-up with a girlfriend or boyfriend in order to appreciate the maturity of emotion necessary for lasting relationships. Without risk, your child may develop low self-esteem and high levels of arrogance.
While it won’t be easy, work on letting your child be a little more adventurous. Remember when you were a kid, and try to allow your child that little bit of freedom to scrape a knee or two.
2. Rescuing Your Child Too Fast
There are some young people out there today who simply don’t have the life skills you did at their ages, and that’s partly because adults just take care of their problems for them. When you essentially help your child too much, not allowing them the chance to deal with obstacles and problem-solve on their own, they simply won’t learn how to do it themselves.
Problem-solving and handling challenges are basic skills for leadership, but your child won’t develop them if they never have to find a solution alone.
It’s very tempting to step in and help your child when they are struggling right away, but remember that while it helps in the short term, you’re not doing them any favors in the long run. One day, you won’t be there to solve their problems, so they have to know how to do it themselves.
3. Raving About Your Child Too Much
The movement to build a child’s self-esteem has been around for decades in parenting. While supporting your child is definitely the right move, you have to be realistic about your praise. If you’re showering them with compliments over every little thing, they’ll eventually realize no one else sees what you do and begin to doubt your sincerity.
This can lead to an adult who cheats, lies and is unable to accept harsh realities, as they have been conditioned to think highly of themselves all the time, even when the situation doesn’t warrant it.
You don’t have to stop praising your child or become a harsh critic. Instead, give praise when it’s deserved and at an appropriate level. When your child wins first place, for example, go ahead and celebrate. But if they come last, don’t blame the judges or someone else for the loss. Simply support your child and encourage them to do better next time.
4. Letting The Guilt Get You
Your child won’t love you every minute of the day, and that’s both normal and fine. Children get over disappointment, but they don’t get past the negative effects of being spoiled. Feel free to say, “No” or “Not now,” letting them fight for what they really need and value.
As a parent, we tend to give our child what they want as a reward, especially when it comes to multiple kids. When one child excels in something, we think it’s unfair to reward and praise that child and not the other children.
But that’s unrealistic and misses an important point: that success comes from what we do, and it doesn’t always come with the perfect reward. Avoid teaching your child that a high grade means a trip to the movies. When a relationship is based on rewards, kids will miss out on both motivation and unconditional love.
5. Hiding Your Past Mistakes
A healthy teen will want to spread their wings, and they will try some things. As adults, we need to let them do so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help them navigate new experiences. Share the relevant mistakes you made when you were your child’s age, and do so in a way that helps them make better choices. Your kids must be able to handle slip-ups and deal with any consequences of those mistakes, and you can help prepare them.
Tell them how you felt when you had a similar experience, what influenced your actions and what lessons you learned. As a parent, you’re not the only influence on your kids, but you must be the best one.
6. Mistaking Influence, Intelligence And Talent For Maturity
One mistake that is easy to make is using your child’s intelligence as a measurement of their maturity, assuming a smarter child is ready to face the world. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case. Young Hollywood stars and athletes can have immeasurable talent, for example, but still be the face of an embarrassing public scandal. Your child may have immeasurable gifts in one area of life, but that doesn’t automatically translate to everywhere else.
There is no “magic” age when all children should be given certain freedoms, but one way to tell is by observing other kids around the age of yours. If you see those children are doing more on their own than your child does, you may be hindering your child’s independence.
7. Not Practicing What You Preach
Parents need to be the model of the life they want for their children. As home leaders, you can start by being honest with your kids. When you are making those little ethical choices we all face in life, remember that your child may be watching.
If you’re not cutting corners on projects, for instance, your children will learn that doing that is unacceptable. Show your children what it means to be generous by volunteering with a local charity or community group. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s the message you would want your child to receive.
As a parent, you will make mistakes, but you can get your child on the road to being a productive and responsible adult by avoiding the parenting behaviors covered above. They will appreciate the fact that you took the difficult decisions for their own good, instead of following the easy route.