As a parent, you always try your best. You love your children unconditionally and provide them with everything they need, often sacrificing your own interests. But in the end, they don't appreciate it as much as you feel they should. They complain, they grumble, they call you a naggy parent and everyone is unhappy.
If this describes the situation in your family, you might be making one or more of the most common parenting mistakes. Some of them are obvious, some will surprise you, but all of these things will cause a child to feel unhappy and unmotivated.
1. Making your child the center of your universe.
Every parent feels like the world revolves around their kids, but in objective reality it's not true. So, while it might seem like the only option to pay utmost attention to your child's need, you should never neglect your own.
If your family's entire schedule is built around your children's activities (their school, homework, music lessons, etc. etc.), they might become self-centered. It's also good to remember that all this attention is putting them under a lot of pressure. In the end, everyone will be happier when the needs and interests of every family member are given equal attention and support.
2. Constantly telling your child how special they are.
You might be thinking that every child needs to be encouraged, but those who hear only "You are a genius!", "What a clever idea!" and "You did a fantastic job!" may develop a sense of entitlement.
"If I am so special," they might start thinking, "I don't need to work hard to achieve things." Then comes the disappointment when they realize that not all things in life come as easy as their parents' praise. By all means, encourage your child's achievements, but don't overdo it, because the collision with reality might be harsh.
3. Expecting the worst from your child.
This is the total opposite of the previous mistake, and it's no less damaging. "You are so irresponsible", "Can't you ever do anything right?", "You haven’t done your homework, have you?"
If your children hear that they are useless, stupid, irresponsible, lazy – they will accept these labels. It won't cause them to act any different, on the contrary: if you keep saying they are hopeless, that's what they are going to believe. This one is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
4. Trying to achieve your dreams through them.
Primitively speaking, if Mommy always wanted to be a ballerina, it doesn't mean the daughter will want the same thing. This should be obvious, but how many parents are forcing their children to take up classes that they find interesting, to choose a career path they regret not choosing?
Everyone has their own race to run; your children should not be fulfilling those ambitions your own parents never let you achieve.
5. Disciplining your child while angry.
In order for your children to grow up well-adjusted, they have to be disciplined for bad behavior. But this should not happen in the heat of the moment. An angry parent will only mete out unreasonable punishment, and very probably fail to make the child understand what they are really guilty of.
If you feel like you are on the verge of losing it, wait for 10-15 minutes to calm down, and only then talk to your child. In the long run, it will be much more effective.
6. Shaming your child.
Under no circumstances should you say things like "I am ashamed of you" or "I'll never forgive you". Don't make it sound like your child is a bad person, instead explain why their behavior was wrong and how they should have acted differently.
7. Being a friend rather than a parent.
Spending enjoyable time with your children is great, sharing the same interests is awesome, but there is more to parenting than fun and games.
If you are a parent, you have to make hard decisions. Boundaries need to be established, expectations need to be set. Disciplining your children is an important part of the formation of their personalities: it's hard but it has to be done.
8. Comparing your child to others.
That's a big no-no. Everyone knows it, everyone does it. But to your child "Look, Jimmy has already read five books from the program!" translates into "I wish you were smart like Jimmy, then I would love you more".
Remember that every child is uniquely gifted and every child's personality is different. They can't all have the same strong sides. Your child deserves the same love and attention as everyone else, no matter what they can or can't do.
9. Shielding your children from the consequences of their actions.
Choices always lead to consequences. The sooner your children realize it, the better adjusted they will be to life, so don't try to bail them out of every difficult situation.
If your child forgets to bring their homework to school, don't drive there to drop it off. If they don't put their clothes in the laundry basket, don't do it for them: they'll start doing it when they realize they've run out of clean clothes because no one has put the dirty things in the washer. This will teach them to be more organized and responsible.
10. Prioritizing your children over your marriage.
Because children would rather know that their parents love each other than that their parents love them. This does not mean choosing one or the other, instead it means not neglecting your marriage in favor of the child.
By focusing on each other's needs, you and your spouse will create great role models for your children's future marriages.
If you feel like you've been making some of these mistakes, rest assured you are not the only one. Most people make them, the key is to be aware and take steps towards improvement. Think about which mistakes you make more often, and come up with a parenting plan to fix them. It will take hard work and commitment, but eventually you will see results. And some day, your children will thank you!