The 5 biggest mistakes parents make | MomsCharlotte.com

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Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

The 5 biggest mistakes parents make

10/02/13 22:59
  • 20061012 Crybaby
    MARKSTEIN — MCT

A journalist recently asked, “What is the biggest mistake parents make?”

I had to think about that. Which parents? The biggest mistake made by some parents is they pay entirely too much attention to and do entirely too much for their children. These children usually, but not always, end up as spoiled brats. Why not always? Because some children, by mysterious means, manage to do well in spite of less-than-optimal parenting. The notion that one is produced by the manner in which one is raised is belied by many exceptions, including children who do well despite bad upbringings and children who do badly in spite of good upbringings.

On the other hand, some parents’ biggest mistake is that they pay entirely too little attention to their kids.

The biggest mistake made by still other parents is thinking the misbehavior of a toddler is cute, or rationalizing their failure to discipline at that critical state by saying such things as “He’s only 20 months old, after all” and “It’s just a stage … he'll grow out of it.”

All of the big stuff begins as small stuff. Without early correction, tantrums grow into rages, disobedience grows into defiance, occasional disrespect grows into belligerence, and not picking up one’s toys grows into refusal to do one’s schoolwork.

The biggest mistake made by lots of parents is they combine wordy explanations with instructions, as in “Honey, a friend of mine is coming over and I’d like to serve coffee in this room, so I need you to pick up these toys and move them somewhere else, okay?”

Explanations invite push-back, as in “I was here first! Why can’t you and your friend use the kitchen?” These parents tell me their children are argumentative, which simply means that the parents combine explanations with instructions. Under those conditions, all children, being clever, will seize the opportunity to push back. In this example, the proper form is “I want you to pick up these toys and move them somewhere else, right now,” and the proper response to “Why?” is “Because I said so.”

And then, as in the above example, the biggest mistake made by some parents is attaching “okay?” to the end of what they think are instructions. I once had a parent count the number of times she did that in a day. She reported more than 50. “Okay?” is not an instruction. It is a namby-pamby request, a petition made to the resident prince or princess of petulance. It deserves to be ignored, which is what usually happens.

rosemond.com

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