Do you feel trapped in certain practices when dealing with particular situations as a parent? Here’s how you can avoid such unpleasant circumstances.
By Amrita Gracias
You have probably realised by now that parenting is no simple task. Although it entails numerous joys and pleasures that make it worthwhile, it comes with its fair share of challenges that you are most often unprepared for. Alas, you are then caught in a web of pitfalls that somehow make for unpleasant parenting experiences.
‘Parenting traps’ refer to parents’ behaviours and their reactions to those of their children. While these might seem correct or acceptable, they are in fact inappropriate and cause long-term damage to both you and your child. Perhaps your reaction to a certain behaviour might seem to work when you are dealing with a difficult situation. However, these behaviours and reactions become routine and unfortunately don’t help as your child grows older. It is not unusual for parents to fall into these traps when these instances occur during the early stages of parenthood, which then become normal or frequent.
1. The perfect trap: Are you trying to be the perfect parent all the time with unrealistic expectations of yourself? You are constantly trying to please your children only to be met with feelings of resentment, disappointment, frustration and guilt because you feel nothing is ever going right. Moreover, you unconsciously tend to have similar expectations of your children as well, leading to even more dissatisfaction as their behaviours or capabilities never live up to what you have in mind.
What to do: You can never be the perfect parent. So, stop trying to be one. While it is perfectly normal to make mistakes, just make sure you don’t repeat them. Don’t aim at being the perfect parent; rather, focus on being a good parent by adopting an effective parenting style.
2. The criticism trap: Are you constantly criticising or finding fault with your child? Focussing on his mistakes and frequently pointing out his faults can have lasting negative outcomes for your child. This can also severely affect his self-esteem as he moves into his adolescent years. In addition, your relationship with your child is also strained leading to constant power struggles between the two of you.
What to do: Understand that your child will make mistakes. He is learning too. Rather than focussing on them all the time, help him realise his mistakes and make him understand that he shouldn’t repeat them. On the other hand, constructive criticism is always welcome. This way the growing hostility between you and your child gives way to a more meaningful and respectful relationship that you both cherish.
3. The escalation trap: Your child demands something. You say no. She ‘escalates’ the matter by throwing a tantrum or continuously nagging or even raising her voice. You can’t handle the situation anymore and agree to give in to her demands. She learns that this kind of behaviour will work to her benefits. You believe that giving in to her demands addresses the issue of her tantrums.
What to do: Dealing with your child’s tantrums is tough and challenging. But instead of giving in to them, try and remain calm, but firm. Help her understand that negative behaviours such as these have no positive outcomes. If you do make the effort to discourage tantrums during the toddler stage itself, your child’s teenage years will more likely be less challenging. Encourage more accepting and reasonable behaviours by praising and appreciating display of such behaviour.
4. The ‘it’s just-a-phase’ trap: You have noticed that your child is displaying certain behaviours like hitting or biting. You choose to ignore these acts hoping this is just a phase that will pass. By failing to correct these behaviours, your child thinks that these are acceptable. There might even be a bigger underlying problem that is causing your child to behave this way. Choosing to ignore the problem can only lead to untoward consequences.
What to do: Make sure you correct your child’s negative actions at an early stage. Explain to him why his behaviour is unacceptable. Try and understand why he is behaving in a certain manner repeatedly. If this sort of behaviour continues, seek help to find out the root cause of the problem. It’s always easier to deal with the problem at an early stage.
5. The ‘martyr’ trap: You are so involved in being a parent and taking care of your child’s every need that you forget about your own needs. As a result of this, you are exhausted, resentful and easily stressed. Even your relationship with your spouse is strained because your only focus is your children.
What to do: Remember that you are a person with your own needs. Being a ‘martyr’ does not make you a perfect parent. By taking care of your own needs, you are ensuring your wellness that allows you to take better care of your family. Take time off from being a parent for a few hours to pursue your own needs or interests. A well-balanced life guarantees effective parenting.
Any parent can be easily drawn into these tricky traps. Seek the necessary support and help that parenting requires. Remember that once you are caught in these dodgy snares, you will find it extremely difficult to channel your child’s negative behaviours in the right direction. So, do your best to stay out before you’re stuck in!
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