We all want the best for our kids, but Dr. Tim Elmore, a distinguished researcher and author of several best-selling books on psychology, believes he has found some parental behaviors that might actually run contrary to that goal. While these behaviors seem innocuous enough on the surface, and maybe even beneficial, they can actually end up hindering your child’s development into a successful adult. Here they are below.
1. Not letting kids take risks
We live in a dangerous world, and the instinct to want to wrap your child in bubble wrap to protect them against everything is one that’s at least crossed every parent’s mind. Unfortunately, kids need to experience risk. European psychologists found that kids who never play outside or skin their knees often develop phobias as adults. Experiencing romantic loss as teens and coping with it can also help them develop the emotional maturity that real, long-lasting relationships require. Kids who grow up without any risk are likely to grow up arrogant.
2. We’re too quick with the rescue
A lot of kids today are unable to properly handle disappointment or hardship because adults tend to swoop in and “assist” before they have a chance to process it and figure it out on their own. It’s a short-term solution that leaves your child unable to solve their own problems in the long term.
3. Too much praise
I’m not saying don’t give kids compliments on a job well done – this is critical to the development of their self-esteem. Unfortunately, we’ve developed a tendency to give kids praise for doing just about anything, including simply showing up. This leaves kids unable to cope with situations where they may not be naturally talented. It can also lead to them distrusting their parents because while Mom and Dad say he/she is awesome, nobody else seems to be saying it.
Your child doesn’t have to love you every minute of every day. Sometimes you have to take unpopular decisions, and your child’s disappointment leads you to cave in. With multiple kids, parents often also feel bad if one kid achieves something and gets rewarded. They get roped into giving something to the other kids too just to make things “fair,” but think about it, how fair is it? If you aced your math test, why is someone who still eats glue at pre-school also getting a reward? Not only does it devalue the reward for the child who earned it, it also sets up unrealistic expectations from the child who didn’t.
5. Not sharing our experiences
As teens, kids will want to spread their wings and test out how far they can fly. They’re going to try a lot of things, but we don’t have to let them go through the process unaided. It’s always great to share your own experiences with your kids, so they can learn to make good choices from your example. Be careful, however, to avoid giving preachy, negative situations of “lessons learned” about things like alcohol or narcotics. Instead, just have an honest talk about your own experiences and what motivated your actions in that situation at their age.
6. Mistaking intelligence or talent for maturity
Let’s set the record straight: intelligence/talent and maturity are not the same thing. Just because your child can solve differential equations or tap dance like Fred Astaire doesn’t mean they have developed the capacity to make good decisions. Look at how many talented Hollywood stars still get embroiled in scandal. A good rule of thumb to measure your child’s maturity is to compare them to other kids their age – if other kids do more for themselves than your child, you may need to consider changing your approach.
7. Not practicing what we preach
Our kids look to us, first and foremost, to learn how to behave. As such, we must be accountable for our own behaviors so that they can one day learn to be held accountable for theirs. The “do as I say, not as I do” school of parenting tends to make kids be slightly resentful that they’re held to a standard you can’t meet yourself. If, on the other hand, you always show them things like how to never cut corners in your work, and always leave everything in a better state than you found it, they’ll learn that those are important traits too.
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