6 Ways Parents Discourage Their Children
While trying to help our children, are we paying attention to the fact that some of the things we do, as parents, may be discouraging our children?
By Arun Sharma
As parents, we always try to give our children the best and, in turn, want them to be the best. We spare no effort when it comes to guiding and helping our children get to the top. However, while our intentions may be to serve our child’s best interests, we can inadvertently engage in acts that would end up discouraging her.
Here are some of the common things parents do that can discourage their child.
- Indulging in excessive criticism: As a species, humans are imperfect and none of us would ever deny this fact. However, as parents, almost all of us expect our children to be perfect — we want them to learn everything in a perfect manner, to be proficient in what they do, to display impeccable behaviour – we look at our children only through the lens of perfection. And, when our children falter, a lot of us resort to using harsh words to criticise them. Not only does this discourage and demoralise the child, but also gives rise to unhealthy interactions between the parent and child.
- Belittling victory: Children are full of energy and enthusiasm. They are not only eager to take up challenges but are also willing to put in their best to attain victory. And, when parents aren’t willing to acknowledge their achievements or belittle their victory, it fills children with a sense of dejection and makes them wonder if they can ever do anything to their parents’ satisfaction.
- Pampering or overprotecting: Our love for our children often makes us worry about their safety and welfare. But, some of us take things a little too far. To prevent their children from getting hurt or experiencing something negative, some parents step in at the first sign of trouble. As a result, children of such parents never learn how to face and overcome adversities. They never develop belief in their abilities and always feel discouraged.
- Adopting a passive attitude: The increasing responsibilities coupled with the dwindling support from near and dear ones keep most modern-day parents busy. Because of which, they are less involved, both emotionally and cognitively, in the upbringing of their children. Such an attitude leads children to believe that parents do not consider them important enough and are disinterested in what’s happening in their lives, which can shatter their confidence.
- Disciplining in an erratic manner: Almost all parents consider disciplining their child one of their most important responsibilities. However, only a few know how to instil discipline the right way. Most parents either shower their children with excessive praise for good acts or lose their temper at the first sign of mistake. This makes a child feel vulnerable and intimidated, and unsure of himself and his worth.
- Voicing negative expectations: Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson in their book, ‘Pygmalion in the Classroom’, state that, “one person's expectations of another's behaviour may come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” So, while having positive expectations can build confidence and help a child improve, having negative expectations can discourage a child and lead to poor showing.
Although parents may have their child’s best interests in mind while engaging in any or all of the above-mentioned acts, they should also understand that children don’t appreciate such behaviour. Parents can do well to remember the adage — “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
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