When I was pregnant, I took time to collect info about best parenting practices getting ready to be a good mother. The more I read, the better I understood that parenting is a hard work combining good management skills with good psychology techniques and endless patience. And to wrap it up, endless amount of love and dedication was needed too. Since then, I kept wondering and fearing If I would be a good parent, able to raise strong, independent and positive children.
In my 5 years career as mum, I found it quite difficult to fight with my own paradigms on how to properly raise my child. Recently I read an article from Elite Readers, where were pointed out 10 things parents should stop doing in order to help their children. Allow me to go on each of the points and share my own insights and personal experience with them,
I. Do not talk on behalf of your child. I have no issues with this advice as my child is very talkative and does not need my help to answer whenever asked a question. But, with quite and shy children it’s not recommended to answer to questions directed to the child.
II. Do no try to be the friend of your child. This is difficult for me as I always dreamed to be as a friend with my children. But, Elite Readers are right, I may confuse my child by behaving as friends. Friends are people who share and interact on equal basis, while a parent could not fulfill such function. Ability to have friends is crucial in raising an independent child.
III. Do not always oblige your child to do what is needed vs. what the child wants (spinach vs. candy). I am fine with this topic, as I try to keep a balance on times I ask my boy to eat what is good for him and times he makes tiny sins of eating what he likes (chocolates are his weakness).
IV. Do not offer too much help to the child. I score high in this topic as I encourage my son to do his own stuff, rather than making everything ready for him. Just like myself, he is a curious boy and likes to try new things. I recall a passage from the book of Steven Covey “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, where the author was talking about one of his sons who happened to be less agile than his brother. Steven Covey wrote “My wife and myself were pushing him to be better in front of others. But things were not improving”. In a certain moment they realized that instead of helping their son, by publicly applauding everything he was doing well (even common things) they were pushing him down and lowering his self-confidence. So, they changed method and left the boy do things on his own, giving him the message he was capable of doing things as anybody else. Results were astonishing: that particular son became the best of the class and leader of the football team.
V. Do not ignore child’s tastes. I face some difficulties to this as I want to share as many common interests with my son. So, I’ve made him listen too much classic music, until it was clear to me that that was not his preference. Clothes are another aspect we fought for and I lost in the end -:) Letting the child choose stuff and activities based on his/her tastes is a good step for development of child’s individuality.
VI. Do not count child’s money. My child’s financial education has been one of my strong points. I use money as a tool to guide him through what would be real life tomorrow. I do not interfere with the way he spends his money, just spend time to discuss with him about the subject. Forcing the child today to only follow instructions on how to spend money does not help him/her to be an independent adult tomorrow.
VII. Do not impose your ideas on child’s interests and hobbies. Another high score for me. I’ve always encouraged my son to do things he likes in leisure time. I believe hobbies and interests are very important part of an individual and those that makes him unique. So, I always choose to agree with my sons choices on hobbies.
VIII. Do not take credit for children’s success. Of course I am proud of my child’s successes, even though he is still too young. But I think I’m good in separating merits on successes and failures, due to the experience I’ve had with my younger sister.
IX. Do not choose child’s presents. I’ve lost such battle since my son was 2, as he would point his lovely finger to the things he liked; and guess what, there was no chance he would accept other stuff. What I did was not to allow him to be spoiled with getting everything he wanted. Most of the time a present was something received for an occasion or as a reward for good behavior.
X. Do not intrude on your children’s lives. This is a challenge I’m going to face in the years to come. I don’t know what will be my reaction then, but I’ll try to keep in mind not to interfere in my son’s personal life (girlfriend, friendship, etc)
As you may see and already know, raising self-confident and independent kids is a real challenge. As my mother used to say “Raising a child is equal to building a castle”. It takes hard work and endless patience. So, good luck with your parenting.
“Instead of raising children who turn out Okay despite their childhood, let’s raise children who turn out extraordinary because of their childhood.” – L.R. Knost
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