What are the three most common mistakes parents make when it comes to kids’ emotional development?
Expert: Dr. Lawrence Shapiro, child psychologist and author of The Baby Emergency Handbook: Lifesaving Information Every Parent Needs to Know
1. Not wanting to be the bad guy
Generally parents are too permissive. Most parents today don’t realize that kids need limits, and they don’t develop well when those limits either aren’t put in place or they aren’t consistent. Being strict seems to imply being mean, but all the studies say that kids being raised in stricter homes tend to do better. Because kids need structure. For example, bedtime is at 7 o’clock. It’s always at 7 o’clock, it’s not at 7:30 because they have to watch a TV show or Bobby down the street has an 8 o’clock bed time.
Every age of child should have that number of rules in the house – a three-year old has three rules, a five-year old has five rules, write them down. And if the child breaks them, there’s some consequence, like a time out, or something else.
Parents often think they can just talk to their kids, and they ignore the fact that the kids don’t listen, they do the exact same thing they did last time. Another mistake parents make is making idle threats to their kids. “If you’re not quiet, I’m gonna turn this car around and we’re never going to the playground again.” Well that’s ridiculous, they don’t turn the car around, and of course they’re going to the playground again. Discipline is very straightforward; they just don’t seem to want to do it. They need to get over it. It’s in the best interest of their child. It’s hard. It’s not fun. Nobody likes time-outs, parents don’t like putting their kids on time-outs, nobody likes reprimanding their kids, but you’ve gotta do it. The child says, “I hate you,” and parents can’t deal with being rejected. Well, kids say “I hate you” sometimes; it’s okay.