Have you ever been going about your normal, happy life, and suddenly ran into a situation with your child that you didn’t expect?

Perhaps it’s an issue you never thought you’d have to deal with, or you realized that the way you handled a situation was wrong. Parenting pitfalls happen to everyone.

Here are five common mistakes that parents make, and how to avoid them.

  1. Inconsistency. Consistency allows children to feel safe. Imagine if you had to drive a car, and didn’t know what the laws were. One police officer allows you to speed, but another one writes you a ticket, or on Mondays you drive on the right side of the street, and on Tuesdays you drive on the left. Driving safely would be impossible. Kids need to know that you will keep your promises, that you will do what you say you will.  The world is confusing for kids. Consistency in the family makes life more manageable.
  2. Rigidity with rules. As families grown and change and as children mature, rules need be modified. When kids hit their teens, you may find yourself letting go of some expectations and needing to create new boundaries. Take time to sit down as a family and talk about what you need and want from your child. Give them the opportunity to dialogue with you about it, and take what they say into consideration. Kids do best when they understand the purpose behind the rules, even if they may not agree with the rules themselves.
  3. Expecting too much. It’s important to know what is developmentally appropriate for a child and what is not. Children have been abused because parents think that they wet their bed on purpose; teens may appear to be independent, but still require supervision and guidance. Anticipate mistakes and slips in judgement. No matter how tall they are and how adult they may look, kids are still maturing and learning how the world works.
  4. Expecting too little. Parents want to take care of their children. Make sure your caring doesn’t turn into coddling, though. Children grow when they are encouraged to do things for themselves. When parents push or nudge their children to try new things, take on responsibility, and act in more mature ways, children bloom.
  5. Failing to respect your children. Parents expect their kids to show respect, but it needs to go both ways. When children are small, parents can show respect by listening to their children,  allowing them some sense of autonomy, and responding to their children’s needs. As kids grow, respect can be shown by trying to understand your child’s world: ask about who their friends are, listen to their music in the car, talk with them about their classes and teachers. Listen without judgement. As Dr. Seuss says, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Parenting will never be easy, but being aware of some common mistakes that parents make can make life with your kids less difficult and confusing. And just as you allow your kids to make mistakes, don’t expect yourself to be perfect, either.

Being a good enough parent is truly good enough.


photo from Shutterstock