AS much as many parents don't like to admit it, we all have a bad parenting habit or two, and clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell said that this does not make us bad parents. She advised, however, that acknowledging these bad habits and addressing them may not only improve our parenting, but the behaviour and overall development of our children as well.
“Parenting is a challenge, but more often than not we encounter parents who genuinely want to be good parents. However, sometimes in parenthood, no matter how good a parent you are, there are some habits that get in the way of healthy parenting and this is why it is important that from time to time those parents examine parenting strategies to see how well they are doing,” Dr Bell explained.
While exhausting the list of bad habits that parents often exhibit is near impossible, Dr Bell has shared a list of habits that she said you should surrender in 2019.
Beating your children
Beating your children to the point where you leave an impression on their skin or where they are scarred is a no-no, and the laws of the land clearly dictate this. Dr Bell said, however, that while spanking has fallen out of favour with many children's and human rights experts and is forbidden by many countries, a few light slaps has its place. However, over-aggressive parents should avoid it altogether because it is likely that they may intend to spank and end up beating. Taking away certain privileges such as allowances, their favourite toys and timeouts are effective alternatives.
Being a helicopter parent
Let them breathe. Give them some air. While it is completely okay and normal to want the best for your children and wanting them to do the best, hovering over them will not help. In fact, what it will lead to is overly dependent children and this will follow them even into adulthood. This kind of intrusive behaviour, which is seen sometimes way into adulthood, Dr Bell explains, takes away from the essence of parenting, which should be preparing and equipping your child to take on the many challenges that will come in the world and how to cope.
Being highly critical of your child
Instead of complimenting your children when they do well, you look for every opportunity to criticise or compare your children. So instead of congratulating your child for being the most improved or for his or her eight out of 10, you ask why they got a C in math immediately after looking on her report card, or ask why she can't be more like her sister who gets straight A's. This is not only mentally agonising for the child, but it can also destroy his/her self-esteem, trigger unhealthy stress levels, and result in academic burnout.
You don't encourage playtime
“Parents develop the notion that children play too much. Taking away playing time from children is detrimental to their mental and emotional well-being,” Dr Bell said. She explained that children need to play for a number of reasons, including that it helps with emotional regulation, releases happy hormones that promote feelings of well-being, as well as it contributes to physical fitness.
You want to live vicariously through your children
“Many Jamaican parents may have grown up feeling that they lacked some basic joys of life and they swear never to make their children go through what they went through and so they begin to live vicariously through their children,” Dr Bell explained. For this reason, Dr Bell says that they often believe they are catering to the needs of their children. But this isn't necessarily true because often the children do not have those needs; they don't have those dreams and aspirations for themselves. So not because you wanted to be a doctor means that your son wants to, or because you didn't get a chance to do piano and karate lessons means you should force your child to partake in these and love these. Dr Bell said what you should focus on is raising your children by taking care of their emotional, physical and spiritual needs so they grow into healthy, balanced children.
Your child is fed fast food often
No, not because your child is fed means that you are parenting right. It is understandable that you barely have time to sit, but there are other simple options than resorting to fast food items. Fast foods are packed with unhealthy ingredients and are often prepared in unhealthy ways. Feeding this to your children leads to one of the world's more common health issues–childhood obesity. Instead of fast food, consider picking up fresh fruits and vegetables and providing children with healthy meal options so as to contribute to the healthy development of your child.
You shout at your child
Yelling at your children a lot can be very devastating to them and this can stymie their development. In fact, Dr Bell explains that shouting when coupled with cursing and insults can have the same negative effects as physically disciplining your child. In the long run it ruins your relationship with them. Additionally, some experts argue that it negatively affects brain development, hurts their ears, and increases the possibility of depression in children. Dr Bell said that sitting your child down and reasoning with him/her is more likely to yield positive results.
You don't set limits and if you do, you don't stick to them
We all want our children to be our friends, but we also want to have children who are well mannered and who respect us. When you set boundaries you help children to learn what is acceptable or not. Explain that these boundaries are also in place to keep them safe. Boundaries are also in place to teach children that there are consequences when they fail to observe boundaries. The truth is, at some point children will experiment to test your seriousness about these boundaries as well as test if these rules can be manipulated. Following through and being consistent about it when your child steps out of line is important because this way they know that you are serious.