Even when we don’t admit it to everyone, deep down, we, parents, want to have the ‘perfect’ children. We want our children (who are exceptional already) to never shout, scream or cry, to always listen to what we tell them and be the examples of good behaviour and discipline. When things don’t follow this order, even randomly, then we panic, we get sad and we punish our children. The worst feeling of all, is that one of failure and incompetence.
Feeling like the worst parent in the world is not much fun, is it? Have you ever thought, though, that maybe you are being too harsh on your children? Are we supposed to raise little calculated robots or emotionally intelligent children who can freely express themselves, learn, communicate effectively and flourish into healthy adults? If you are one of those mums or dads who find themselves having one or more of the following common ‘parenting’ expectations, then its about time you reconsider.
We expect our children to be the best at school. It’s normal for parents to want to do the best for their children and that includes them being good at school and get good grades at…almost everything! But how realistic is that? Not all children are able to be the perfect students. We can’t possibly just expect our children to be good at maths, make no grammar mistakes, be the best at history and geography.
We need to show patience and be there for them through the school difficulties but successes also. Pressuring and demanding will only have the exact opposite effect from what we initially went for. Guide them, don’t expect too much from them.
We expect them to do things we don’t. Children learn by example. This phrase should be understood and realised by all parents. It doesn’t matter how much we tell and ‘order’ children to do things we want, they mostly learn by mimicking our behaviour. If you are someone who watches TV all day, be sure that your child will also do the same. If you lie, your children will learn to lie also. If you handle all your problems with shouting, then they will learn that this is the right way to deal with issues. Always remember that children learn by mimicking behavior and not by verbal warnings and punishment. So, be the example you want them to follow.
We expect them to not be affected by the way we behave towards our partner. This must be one of the biggest ‘mistakes’ parents tend to make. Children can understand everything. Especially feelings and emotions. You should never underestimate that even when they look ok. When you argue with your partner in front of them, they are negatively affected by that. The way you treat your partner will only show them what to expect from their own future relationships too. Verbally abusing your partner, judging, putting down and shouting/screaming at him/her should be avoided at all costs! (Mommy.gr)
We expect them to be like other children. This is a very common parenting behaviour. We tend to compare our children with others and remind them how many things ther children do better than them. Comparing your children to other children of the same age, is devastating and leaves them feeling useless, not good enough and incompetent. They also know that you are disappointed in them which has detrimental emotional effects on children. Every child is different and unique. Also, every child has different capabilities and skills. Keep this in mind next time you feel like comparing your children to others. How did you feel when your parents did that to you?
We expect them to always be in a good mood. Children are human being like us – they go through similar emotional rollercoasters. They are, at times, tired, sleepy, moody, bored and in a general bad mood, like us. How can we expect them to always be happy, smiley and playful? Parents usually feel like children don’t understand them. They get tired all day from work and family obligations to having to come home to children who are crying or always want something.
Children have their bad and good days, exactly like we do and for a variety of reasons. Turn this around and become the ones who will try to understand how your children feel like when they seem moody and down. They, too, are affected by life, daily routine, family situations and school. Never forget that you are the adult in this relationship. Empathy is the key.
We expect them to forgive us. If you insult your children, don’t expect them to keep forgiving you for ever. When children experience family violence or abuse, there will come a point that they won’t want to be victims of that anymore. They can’t always forgive us when we verbally put mum or dad down. Even when things at home are bad, children need stability, understanding and effective communication. It is our duty to make our family home a safe and supportive environment. Every choice you make, as a parent, counts. Think twice before every action.
We expect them to be grateful. We often hear ourselves saying: ‘I give you everything and you are just so ungrateful’. Sounds familiar? Being a parent means that you will put your children’s needs before yours, without that implying that we will let go of ourselves. You also need to be grateful to your children and others if you want them to do the same.
Also, spending time with my children doesn’t mean watch TV together. Spend actual quality one to-one-time with them. Give them your attention daily and they will become more grateful.
We expect them never to make mistakes. Parents feel disappointed when things don’t turn out the way they had imagined. Why, when faced with something so small such as our children breaking a vase, spilling milk all over the couch, ruining their clothes or drawing the walls, we panic as if that was the end of the world? Some parents harshly punish their children for things that are part of childhood and growing up. So next time you decide to treat your children harshly and punish them remember: we all make mistakes; so do our children.