Raising kids is not an easy task. There’s opportunity for parents to make lots of mistakes because, after all, we are human.
Over the past 12 weeks, we’ve talked about the biggest mistakes that parents make, taken from the book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, by Tim Elmore. The mistakes are:
- Mistake #1: Parents not letting their kids fail
- Mistake #2: Parents project their lives on their children
- Mistake #3: Putting too much emphasis on being happy
- Mistake #4: Inconsistency
- Mistake #5: Rescuing Children
- Mistake #6: Too Much Praise
- Mistake #7: Skipping the Struggle
- Mistake #8: Over-parenting
- Mistake #9: Praising the Wrong Things
- Mistake #10: Preventing all Pain
- Mistake #11: Being a Controlling Parent
- Mistake #12: Preparing the path for your child instead of preparing your child for the path
The bottom line is this: if we want to release well-adjusted young adults into the world, we must take a long look at ourselves and how we approach parenting. The key is focusing on preparing them for adulthood, not merely protecting them.
I applaud the engagement of this generation of parents and teachers, but we need to recognize the unintended consequences of our engagement. We want the best for our children, but research now shows that our over-protecting, over-connecting style has damaged them.
He points out that parents are:
- Afraid to risk. Children of risk-averse parents have lower test scores and are slightly less likely to attend college than offspring of parents with more tolerant attitudes towards risk (research by the University of Sheffield in the UK)
- Rescuing too quickly. Rescuing and over-indulging our children is parenting for the short-term, and sorely misses the point of leadership–to equip our young people to eventually succeed without our help.
- Raving too easily. Many parents have simply gone over-board with praise. Anything that plentiful begins to lose its value. Over time, one of two things occurs. Either the praise becomes meaningless and the kids stop believing it, or they become addicted to the praise and cannot perform without it.
- Rewarding too Often. Contrary to popular myth, there are many studies showing that when children expect or anticipate rewards, they perform more poorly. A number show that reward systems suppress a student’s creativity, and generally impoverish the quality of their work. Rewards can kill creativity because they discourage risk-taking. When children are hooked on receiving a reward, they tend to avoid challenges, to play it safe. They prefer to do the minimum required to get that prize. (Robin Grille, Rewards and Praise: The Poisoned Carrot.)
If you are parenting for the short-term–for the quick and convenient solution to problems– you may be falling into these traps. But if you are parenting for the long-term, you will be more concerned with equipping them and preparing them for the future than with doing what’s easy right now.
How are you parenting? For the long-term? Or for the short-term?
Elmore lists simple corrections to the 12 mistakes we’ve discussed over the past three months:
- Parents not letting their kids fail. Change to: Permit them to try on their own and help them see the value of failure.
- Parents project their lives on their children. Change to: Find your identity in something other than your kids.
- Parents put too much emphasis on being happy. Change to: Let kids know that happiness is a by-product of using their gifts to help others.
- Parents being inconsistent. Change to: Decide what values and boundaries you want to live out, and stick by them.
- Parents rescuing children. Change to: Let kids experience the outcome of their choices–good or bad.
- Parents giving too much praise. Change to: Help your kids identify their strengths and reinforce the growth of those gifts. Praise for effort, not outcome.
- Parents letting kids skip the struggle. Change to: Don’t step in and change situations so that your child doesn’t have to struggle.
- Parents are over-parenting. Change to: Back up and let your kids learn to work, achieve goals and earn money.
- Parents praising the wrong things. Change to: Affirm inner qualities, not outward looks or smarts.
- Parents preventing all pain. Change to: Help child deal with pain and see how pain can help them grow.
- Parents controlling. Change to: Guide your child through hard times, don’t fix it for them. Let them learn to work through it themselves.
- Parents preparing the path. Change to: Parent for the long-term, preparing future adults, not focusing just on today’s problems.
Are you ready to make the change? Do you want to parent for the long-term instead of the short-term? If you want to move forward in this area, please contact me. I’m a family life coach and I would love to help. Schedule a free introductory call here.