In my professional experience, I have had the opportunity to work with children in educational settings as well as in the criminal setting. Although these experiences provide a number of windows to parenting, I have learned that the majority of parents strive to do their best for their children. Through that experience I have learned many positive and negative parenting behaviors. As a mother of three, I have learned that all the love and comfort in the universe provides no immunity to unintentional bad parenting. We mean to do the best by our children. However, many times we hinder them from thriving, obtaining independence, and fulfilling their potentials as leaders.
The world is tough and at times unforgiving. Therefore, it is imperative that we give our children a dose of the real world empowering them to confront and resolve any situations that they may encounter as adults.
1. Allow them to engage in genuine risk-taking
The world is a scary place. We are not safe in our homes. We are not safe in our schools. We are not safe online. Therefore, we have become so preoccupied about safety that we prevent our children from experience genuine risk-taking. There are many adverse effects as a result. For example, as adults these children may suffer from low self-esteem and the inability to cope when things seem out of control. So, it is important to allow our kids to problem solve according to their abilities. Do not rush to pick them up when they fall during a sport’s game. Do not rush to save them when they get in trouble at school. Allow them to take in the fullness of the experience. That entails that they will process the situation, take positive action, and accept the consequences.
2. Allow them to solve their problems
As parents we have to resist the urge to save our children the moment they experience hardships. I remember as a young mom feeding the children breakfast, lunch, and dinner wrecked my nerves. I had so much to do. The kids were taking forever to finish their meals. I had a bright idea. If I fed them, the task would be over quicker. Little did I know that I was developing a situation that would become problematic in the future. It is through difficult situations that we become who we are. So why wouldn’t we give our children the opportunity to navigate through unpleasant and sometimes painful situations? That is how they develop self-leadership skills that would be priceless in their future lives.
3. Praise them when they deserve it
Have you ever heard of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality? This mentality is rampant in little leagues everywhere. The kid may never show up to practice or help win a game, but he is a winner nevertheless. Well, that is what we do all across this country and this mentality comes with some negative consequences. We praise our kids too easily and for little effort. As a result, they are not grounded in reality. And when things get tough they will turn to unspeakable behaviors such as cheating, exaggerating, and lying just to get that pompous rave from you. Eventually, they will find that they cannot trust you as parents because no one else can see what you see.
4. Don’t let them manipulate you with guilt
Some parents feel so guilty when their children experience disappointments, so they spoiled them with material things. “No” is a two-letter word they cannot bring themselves to say to their children. They can’t bear the fact that their children may not love them even if it is just for a moment. The problem with this type of parenting is that these spoiled children will grow up believing that they do not have to fight for what they value and need. This will serve as a negative weapon that they will continue to use with those who enter their lives. We must teach children that success is a direct reflection of their actions and decisions. The goal is to develop that intrinsic motivation which would allow them to achieve whatever they put their minds to.
5. Share our pasts with them
Parents are responsible to help their children navigate through the many stages of development. One way we can do that is by sharing our own relevant and similar mistakes that we experienced during the same age. That will help them to learn some positives lessons from the people that they trust the most. We can share with them how we faced a certain situation such as a bully, the specific steps taken, and the lessons learned. This will allow our children to see us as “real people” whom they can come to for all the problems that they may be dealing with.
6. Be a role model to them
We are our children’s first model. We are the ones to teach them how to make good choices and decisions. We model character, dependability, and accountability for them. We model every day what kind of leaders we are in our homes. Therefore, we must practice what we preach. We can’t sneak in a little white lie whenever it suits our needs. We can’t cut corners, and expect them not to learn that from us. We cannot say “bad words” and expect them not to follow suit. Quite a few times my children would come to me at ask, “Is it okay for adults to say bad words?” My answer has always been an emphatic “No.” I know that they will hear certain things from other adults that they are not supposed to hear. But, I want to make it clear that in our home, we do not talk this way.