It’s hard to say where we pick up bad habits but one thing’s for sure; they tend to stick. When it comes to parenting there’s no perfect way to go about things. Looking back we bet there are things you wish you’d quit sooner. We spoke with parenting experts to find out what bad habits they wish parents would drop.
Dr Anna Cohen | Kids & Co. Clinical Psychology
Invalidating a child's experience
“It is a common for parents to invalidate their children’s experiences and emotions, usually without realizing. Validating a child’s feelings will help them to feel understood and acknowledges that any problems they have in their life matter.
When parents do not acknowledge their child’s feelings such as ‘It’s not that bad’ or ‘It will be ok’, they are not allowing their child to feel heard. Instead parents should use dialect that offers empathy and understanding by giving the child the opportunity to express their feelings, needs and thoughts. If your child was upset about not being invited to a birthday party, rather than saying 'Who cares that you weren't invited, we can go shopping instead', a more constructive response would be 'I can see how that would be hurtful that you were not invited. Is there something we could do together to make you feel a little better?'
While parents are often just trying to make their child feel better, deflecting their feelings will not help them to resolve the problem or feel better.”
MyDeal Pro Tip
You promised them a racecar bed to celebrate when they no longer need overnight diapers. You promised you’d spend Friday evening doing anything they want since you’ve been preoccupied with work all week. Even if you’re wishing you could take it back, trust is built when you stay true to your word. It’s important to never promise something you don’t truly want to deliver on but also once the promise is made, unless in extreme circumstances, you shouldn’t break it. Your kids should be able to rely on you to come through, even on the silly little promises us adults are used to breaking.
Lizzie O’Halloran | Help For Mums
Judging other parents on their parenting style
“Throughout parenthood, one of the most common habits parents pick up, is judging the parenting of others. Not only are parents bombarded by the myriad of ‘best’ ways to parent their children, but they are also placing pressure on themselves and others as a result of personal values, societal norms and perceptions of ‘best’ parenting. The aim of parenting is to ensure children are safe, healthy, happy and secure. The methods to achieve these goals should be a parent’s personal preference. However, right from the beginning of motherhood, mothers feel scrutinised over issues such as breastfeeding, their baby’s sleep behaviour and how quickly they are going to return to work. Parenting would be much easier if parents dropped this judgemental habit. In doing so, they would be much kinder to themselves and more empathetic of others in the process.”
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MyDeal Pro Tip
Rushing and creating excess stress
You can’t find the favoured pink lunchbox, your car keys are in one of three miscellaneous piles and you have to leave right now if you want to make it to school in the traffic. Once in a while we’re all caught off guard but if you’re racing against time most mornings, something’s gotta change. Your kids need a calm and collected atmosphere to feel secure and ready to face the day. It may be as simple as finding the necessities (lunchbox and keys) the night before or you may need to overhaul your organisational skills. A hallway sideboard is the perfect place to store your keys, nice and close to the door. And a dedicated plastics drawer in the kitchen will take the mystery out of where you stored those containers.
Elisabeth Stitt | Joyful Parenting Coaching
Being distracted by their phones
“By far the most pernicious habit parents should drop is checking their cell phone during family time. It sets a terrible example for kids.
First, between work schedules and kids’ extra curricular activities, families have very little time together. Parents being on their phones, etc, teaches kids that they should have no limits on their own electronic usage which is ironic given that not being able to get their kids off of their electronics is one of parents’ biggest complaints.
Second, constantly checking for texts or new posts teaches kids that their parents are available to work and others 24/7 which is both poor modeling when it comes to work/life balance and it sends a pretty clear message that work is more important than family.
Finally, studies have shown that parents absorbed in smartphones scold kids more harshly because they are reacting to problems rather than proactively redirecting kids’ behavior.”
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Kathy Fray | Parenting Author & Senior Midwife
Doing things for them because it’s easier
“STOP under-challenging your child’s capabilities for the sake of doing things perfectly yourself. The MORE decisions your child has had to make before hitting puberty, then the better equipped they will be to handle decision-making once their teenage brain naturally (and rightfully) ceases to be strongly influenced by their Parent’s beliefs; as they enter the decade of working out for themselves who they are and what they stand for.
Parents need to actively and intentionally look for every opportunity for their pre-teen Child to make decisions. For example, once turning double-digits, our children’s pocket-money increased so that every week they would be fully in charge of making a family dinner, including deciding on the menu, getting themselves to the supermarket to buy the ingredients on their way home, within budget, and doing the cooking fully unsupervised (unless they asked for help). Yes of course they stuffed it up sometimes – yay, awesome, one more lesson learned. But let me tell you, 20-year-olds who have cooked a dinner once a week for a decade are so much more incredibly capable than most of their peers!”
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If you’re finding it hard to connect with your kids there may be a bad habit to blame. We can’t always recognise when a bad habit forms but we can keep an eye out for the ones to quit. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you should try it again.