What sort of habits would you like to break in the new year? Here are 10 parenting habits to consider leaving behind.

parenting habits to leave behind

#1 Comparing

One can compare possessions, type of school, parents of the child. Even capabilities between children and personalities can be compared. Strangely speaking, it is so common in our society that one becomes desensitized to it. It is not uncommon to hear adults using comparative descriptions as a tool to get the child to do something they want. “Look, Jayden is able to finish his food in one sitting, you are only halfway through. Can you be as fast as him?” Comparisons can happen so regularly in daily life that it even sounds normal.

#2 “Faking” your presence

mother on phone distracted

You have a movie night with your children. Halfway through the movie, you flick out your phone and start to surf behind the guise of the sofa cushion. What about having dinner with your children and a half reading the newspaper? Of course, there’s no law ruling that we cannot get some of our own ‘adult things’ done while being with the kids. It may even be reframed as a “win-win” situation. However, we need to distinguish between catching up on the things we need to do versus the time promised to the children. When you are with them, don’t give them half of you.

#3 Making our children wait for us

How often do we tell our children, “I will be there in 5 minutes” but in actual fact, we will take way longer than that? Certainly, there are times when children need to learn to wait for one another in the family. However, we need to be aware that it does not become a dismissive excuse to buy time. Say X minutes and mean what you say. Let our children know there are times we are readily available for them as well.

#4 Bad-mouthing in front of your kid

Perhaps it is the misconception that the young ones do not catch on when adults badmouth people they know. It may be something annoying a family member did, a school teacher or the classmate’s parents. Let our children enjoy relationships without preconceived biases that they subconsciously receive from us.

#5 Bad-mouthing your kid in front of others

Your child can see and hear how you describe him/her and the reactions of the person you are talking to. It affects self-esteem and damages feelings – how does it come across to the child if “Mummy thinks it is okay to talk bad about me to her friend?” It is not constructive for the parent-child relationship either.

#6 Capturing everything

As precious as some situations are, it would be worthwhile to enjoy the moment as it unfolds as opposed to trying to photograph or video it. Some moments are so fleeting that it is missed if parents are always to get a shot of it. There is a time and place for photography to preserve special moments, but not all the time.

#7 Intimidation

Parenting Without Punishment

There may be times of stress and on bad days, communications can run counter-productive. It is important not to run into a pattern where you threaten or yell at the child. Using your authority to “power down” a child blocks communication and demeans them. It is an opportunity to learn to control our emotions at such times and be a role model on how we handle stress. We can choose to focus on the issue, not on the child.

#8 Double standards

“Do what I say, not what I do”. Children learn not just by listening but by watching what we do. To expect them to listen to what we tell them not to do, will never work if we are doing it ourselves (i.e. playing video games during dinnertime). It can also be confusing to the child if this double-standard is conveyed in a way that it is a privilege only entitled to adults, but not to children as they are still ‘too young’. For example, telling the toddler, “Daddy / Mummy can smoke because we are adults.” It blurs the line as to whether it is an adult thing or if it is something the child should not consider doing for now but is okay to do when older.

#9 Criticizing and not coaching

Top 5 Common Parenting Discipline Mistakes

If your child has attempted to follow instructions but yet didn’t complete it properly, acknowledge the effort instead of just focusing on the mistakes. This is not to water down or avoid mentioning mistakes, it should be balanced with the intent to build up. Instead of “What happened to the bed! Some corners are hanging out”, acknowledge the effort and suggest assistance with the corners.

Related Read: Top 5 Common Parenting Discipline Mistakes

#10 Asking your child to hug or kiss people

It is not uncommon to hear parents asking their kids to hug and kiss others goodbye. Consider the better option that the child is given the freedom to hug or kiss if they feel comfortable with the person and want to do so. Say “It’s time to say goodbye we are getting ready to go”, give your child the space to choose what they want to do. Especially for the younger ones, they need to know they can choose not to hug or kiss someone they don’t want to, not because Mummy and Daddy say so.

Recommended Read: Teaching Our Children The Value Of…Standing Up for Themselves

Become A Better Parent To Your Child This Year!

By Som Yew Ya.

This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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What are some parenting habits you hope to change for the new year? Leave your comments below!

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