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The 5 Biggest Parenting Mistakes and How to Correct Them

© 1999, by Phillip Mountrose

When it comes to handling kids, most parents know they're amateurs. The challenge is they're supposed to be professionals. Parents are somehow supposed to know just what to do with children on a daily basis.

Before tackling the following list, remember to be kind with yourself. Some forgiving of yourself may be in order. We all make mistakes, and, like we tell our kids, we're supposed to learn from our errors.

Here then are some common parenting mistakes and practical remedies:

1. Inconsistency with rules. If you don't follow through on our rules, children learn that you don't really mean what you say. Your inconsistency also produces anxiety in both you and children. (The exception is when you determine that your decision is unworkable or unsuitable. Then it's time to acknowledge the error and explain the needed changes.) The old advice still holds true: Tell kids what you want them to do, and then have them do it.

2. Adults talking too much. "Kids just don't listen." This common complaint by adults brings up the question: How did kids acquire these poor listening skills? Adults tend to dominate discussions with children. When you talk to kids after careful listening, you are more informed and aware. Then your words mean more and kids naturally listen to you.

3. Words not matching your actions. Too often children see their elders blaming, denying, and excusing instead of owning up to mistakes. Children welcome it when you admit that you erred or don't know something, acknowledging that you struggle, too. Like fresh air, your honesty comes as a relief to kids. They are liberated, no longer dependent on the all-knowing adult. Children then become freer to learn from their mistakes and grow as well.

4. Poor boundaries. Here is an easy explanation of boundaries for children: Tell them there is you -- your body and possessions -- and the rest of the world is not you. Some other boundaries -- such as not discussing a person's income, weight or age -- may vary from person to person. Children should be sensitized to these areas. Also, help children become aware of approaching a person who has experienced upsetting changes, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one.

5. Not spending enough quality time with kids. Realize you are doing the best you can with the daily demands of your schedule. But maybe you could do better in the future. Find ways to have fun with your children. Ask them what they want to do. Remember to listen to them. Enjoy the silent times, too, when you are just together. Set a goal to spend time doing things and being with your child. It will benefit everyone.

Now that you have read the above list, identify the mistakes that you want to correct. Set a goal. And remember to forgive yourself for those mistakes. Know that your future will not be free of errors, but you will be freer to experience more enjoyment with your children.

The above article is excerpted from Phillip Mountrose's award-winning book Getting Thru to Kids: Problem Solving with Children Ages 6-18 (Holistic Communications, 800-929-7889). The newest book in his series is Tips and Tools for Getting Thru to Kids. Phillip is also available for personal consultations on family matters and personal growth at 916-972-9921.

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