Common Discipline Mistakes Of Pushover Parents

Do you set rules only to let your child break them? Yes, we understand, it's hard to resist your little one's naughty grin even when she is in the wrong. But, this makes you a pushover parent...

By Ashwin Lobo

Common Discipline Mistakes Of Pushover Parents

Every parent is different when it comes to raising children. You could be authoritarian by nature and try to control every aspect of your child's life. Or, you may be the type to allow your child to learn by experiment; you give him the freedom to explore. Such a parent tends to intervene only when it is absolutely necessary.

Or, you could be the kind of parent who is too easy-going and loves to indulge your little one. If so, you set very few rules, let your child have her way always and don't hold her accountable for anything. Naturally, children love and enjoy such freedom. But, in the long run, not setting a structure for your child to follow can have serious consequences.

If you are such a parent, know that it is not a healthy development for your child. For, children of lenient parents gradually tend to gain the upper hand in the parent-child equation. In time, your child may begin to see you as a pushover. 

Signs of pushover parents

While parents are expected to take care of their children, if you are a pushover parent, you may take things too far. You:

  • Give into your child’s demands to avoid conflicts
  • Are scared of being perceived as unpopular by your chid
  • Allow yourself to be manipulated
  • Blame others when your child makes a mistake
  • Allow him to get away with making excuses
  • Are overprotective
  • Are afraid of letting your child fail

Negative effects of being pushover parents

Naturally, you have the best of intentions. You want a peaceful household and a happy child. Unfortunately, this comes at a price.

For this means that as a pushover parent, you have low expectations of your child. This means he is never motivated or challenged to fulfill his potential or become a high achiever. As your child  always get what he wants, he will be in for a rude shock when he steps out into the world and finds that others are not as generous as his parents. Being lenient, as a pushover parent, you shy away from correcting your child's troublesome behaviours, thereby encouraging him to continue to behave badly. Obviously, being too lenient isn't always the right thing to do.

Discipline mistakes that can change any parent into a 'pushover parent'

1. Bending the rules often: Bending the rules once in a while is alright. For example, you can allow your child to stay up late to watch the finals of the Football or Cricket World Cup. However, if this happens too often or you allow your child to break the rules every day, it is bound to lead to indiscipline. After all, there's no point in making a rule if it is rarely followed. 

  • What you should do: An easy way for you to get your child to adhere to regulations is to sit down with her and decide together on rules and consequences. Research shows a child who is a part of the rule-making process is more likely to follow them. Also, at the same time, decide on the consequences for breaking a rule. These can be anything from withdrawal of certain privileges to helping out with additional chores.

2. Backing down: Deciding on consequences is all well and good. But, what happens when you back down and don’t follow through? For example, suppose you tells your child that he can watch his favourite TV show only when homework is done. However, instead of listening to you, he goes on to grab the remote and begin watching TV. And, you don't do anything. You, in effect, back down — you do nothing to redirect him to what he is supposed to be going, nor do you enforce the consequence for breaking the rule. As a result, over time, your child comes to understand that he can get away with what he wants and that his parent will never follow through with the consequences.

  • What you should do: Once you both have decided on rules and consequences, ensure that she has to face the consequence whenever she breaks a rule, no exceptions allowed. Following through, helps a child differentiate the right from wrong, and learn that she is accountable for her actions.

3. Resorting to bribery: As a parent, you also have to teach your child to responsible and contribute to the household. However, this is not easily taught. You may even have to be tough on your child in order to teach him some of these values. But, as a pushover parent, you may end up bribing him to get him to cooperate; you may at times, allow him to get away with refusing to listen to you. However, bribing a child only brings a temporary change in his behaviour, and when the bribe isn't offered, it is quite possible that he will go back to his usual ways.

  • What you should do: Instead of bribing your child, try and make her understand that she is responsible for chores around the house too. Encourage your child to contribute and participate in household activities and tasks, instead of letting her get away with doing nothing. Also, pay attention to the way you converse with your child; how you talk to your child in this regard, can make a huge difference.

4. Keeping the child happy at all costs: Every parent wants their child to be happy. But, as a pushover parent, you are willing to go to any lengths to ensure this — to the extent of overlooking misbehaviour. For example, if your child throws a tantrum to get a toy or puts up a sad face, a you give in, or accede to his demands. Unfortunately, this teaches your child how to manipulate and get his way.

  • What you should do: Keeping a child happy at all costs makes her understand that she can get away with anything. Instead, keep in mind that, at times, it is okay to put your foot down and refuse to fulfil her demands. Ignore her tantrums or pleas. But, do acknowledge her emotions by saying things like 'I understand how it feels', but refrain from giving her what she is insisting on.

5. Trying to be a friend: Some parents are concerned about not being liked by their child if they impose their authority. If you are such a parent, you always try to be friendly with your child. Instead of guiding the child and helping him make the right choices, you feel that as his buddy, you must allow him to do whatever he wants to.

  • What you should do: Understand that it is your responsibility to ensure your child grows into a well-adjusted individual. Your child should know how to handle relationships, make good choices, be responsible and so on. So, instead of being a friend, strive to guide her in the right direction.

As a pushover parent, you may shy away from conflicts because you want your child to like you, at all costs. Unfortunately, this emotional deficiency in the parent translates into behavioural problems in the child. As a parent, find a balance in how you raise your child; have the courage to discipline him, even if this upsets him for a while. Trust us, when he grows up, he will look back and be grateful for it. 

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