This list is capturing the first top ten things that come to mind when thinking about what parents are doing WRONG! These simple actions (or lack of) are the ones I hear and see most frequently in schools. These small things, many times done without thought of long-term repercussions, lead to habits and mold our children into young adults, and then adults running our society. So as always, I think children are very important. What they believe, how they act, and think is very telling of the future. If I am witnessing and hearing about these issues frequently and they are preventable, then I think as the adults, we need to make some changes. As a parent, I am not exempt from this list. And, no one is perfect. However, I do think there are some simple fixes that could lead to more success academically, socially, emotionally, and with their health if we lead children and make some decisions that aren’t always fun or easy.
As a School Counselor, I work with all kids ages 5-11. And like other observations I have made, this list does not just apply to one subgroup. I know parents at my own children’s elementary school who may not realize what they are or are not teaching their kids. Likewise, I know plenty of children in lower socioeconomic households who also are being led to believe some of the same dysfunctional things. As a society, we need to be more aware and conscientious of the values we hold and are teaching our kids. These are just a few of the most frequent problems I have seen this year.
Parents need to STOP doing these things NOW!:
1. STOP- Not saying no
I do not understand how parents can let their kids call the shots. We have been around much longer, we have our frontal cortex fully functioning and we can understand long-term decisions. But too many times, parents want to please their kids and keep a peaceful household. But at what cost? When we say yes over and over, then the kids become spoiled brats. And, more importantly, it messes up the hierarchy of order. When children are not used to hearing no, then it’s also hard to accept ‘no’ from their teachers and coaches too. These kids get way too bent out of shape or think it’s “not fair” when they get consequences at school, or even when things don’t go their way. These kids argue and don’t follow first request because that’s what they do at home too. They manipulate to get their way and they’re good at it too.
We have to let our kids understand what disappointment feels like regularly because it does help them train them for life. Things won’t and often don’t always go the way you want them to. But, do you throw a tantrum because you didn’t get your way? Do you stomp, yell and cry until you get your way. If you do, then your children naturally will too. Nip it in the bud and get your kids used to not always getting what they want. Say no more frequently, not less!
2. STOP- Not giving chores
This one really surprises me. More kids than not, do not have regular chores. They are not expected to contribute to keeping their household running smoothly. They’re too busy with their daily after-school extracurriculars (oh, poor kids) or their video games. Now what makes sense about that? Kids get to have all the fun and the parents have to do all the work? Now, this is not every kid I know but it is the majority at both of my schools. It’s so surprising that parents aren’t getting the help they need when we could if we just require it. It teaches children about how they must take care of themselves. And, I do think it increases their feelings of self-worth because they know they can do things and don’t always have to rely on others. Plus, they learn cause and effect. You swifter the floor, and it looks better afterwards. You unload the dishwasher, and it’s ready for more dishes.
And at our house, they don’t get paid to do it either. Now that may be a personal decision because we really don’t have the extra money to be bribing our kids to help out around here anyway. But, I want it to be expected too. As they grow older, I’ll let them earn money by doing extra chores. Before my kids can do anything in the afternoon, they eat a snack, do homework and then choose 2 chores. In the summer, same thing. Two chores are required in order to play or do electronics. That’s more than fair and it’s not a decision they get to make. As parents, we call the shots. Stop negotiating and start training them to be responsible. They argue or complain, give them more!
3. STOP- Expecting good things to happen without hard work
4. STOP- Thinking your kid is always right and never to blame
I hear teachers all over America shouting AMEN right now! Sadly, one of my good friends and an amazing teacher just quit her teaching career. Why? Because of whinny parents, irresponsible students, and lazy kids. The two groups are not exempt from each other. She is sick of kids thinking they can have it all without the hard work. Kids think that if they wish for getting good grades, it’ll just miraculously happen. Students act dumbfounded when the report card comes. Her biggest frustration is the parents, though. And while it’s not all of them or even half of them, the ones who complain and don’t hold their children accountable overshadow the quiet parents.
And if you think your kid is capable of doing no wrong, think again. We all are. It is maddening when your own child that should know better throws a rock at a car window (yes, my sweet little son did that one in first grade and I about imploded!). My kids are FAR from perfect and I recognize their faults. I recognize my faults. Denial is a strong coping mechanism..(my child would never….; yeah right!) Get real. Stop and think about the improvements or changes you could make. Realize your kids may be idiots sometimes. And when the teacher lets you know there is a problem, trust them. Instead of blaming someone else or making excuses, ask your kids what they could do differently. It’s not always someone else’s fault because no one is perfect.
Not everyone can get straight A’s, be on the Safety Patrol, be the Student Council President, and handle all the after-school activities too. That’s ok. Just because your kid wants it doesn’t mean it’ll happen. Be realistic. My kid isn’t perfect; neither is yours’. What do you teach your child when you tell them they don’t have to listen to an adult or that the adult is wrong? I have had plenty of kids have that mentality, that respect is earned not given. How does this kind of thinking pan out long-term with your boss? We need to teach our kids to act respectful even if it’s not something they like or agree with. Sometimes we have to bite our tongue as parents too. If we don’t show that we respect the decisions of adults that care for our kids, then they won’t respect them either.
5. STOP- Not making kids get enough sleep
Do kids love going to sleep? Often times, not. They don’t always ask to stop the fun and end their day (although, mine sometimes actually do)! However, it’s what’s best for them. Too many kids, even very young kids, are not getting enough rest. Sleep deprivation can make them cranky, unable to sit still, too sleepy to concentrate, angry, and sick. It is so important but most kids are getting short-changed by several hours.