Parenting is hard work. It might be possibly the hardest job to get right on the planet, and the easiest one to muck up. And when you do, you're not just screwing up an account or a Word document: you're messing with a human being's LIFE! So parents, be forewarned: the things you say are just as important as the things you do when it comes to your kids. Make sure to strike these sayings from your phrasebook.
Brad M. Reedy, PhD, warns against this off-the-cuff remark for two reasons. The first is that it isn't true — what about teachers, mentors, coaches, etc. Secondly, it removes the parent from being a confiding ear. If the child can't express anger or hurt to a parent, who can they express it to? And if the child thinks that the parent is beyond reproach, then that must mean there's something wrong with the kid, no?
Nobody likes a crying child. But expressing emotions and eventually learning how to cope with them is a necessary learning experience for young children — and older ones, too. What you don't want is to raise a child who resents, suppresses, or is absent of emotions — this is incredibly damaging. Let them have their feelings, and help them talk through them if you can.
You and your child might have engagements to get to, but how you tell them to "hurry up!" can be misleading or misinterpreted. Especially if a child is in the middle of an activity that helps them build confidence or identity, telling them to cut it short in an angry tone of voice can have them associate such activities with negative feelings. You want to raise independent children — and if everyone's a little late on the way, so what?
Perfection is not the goal. Excellence and self-actualization are. By telling a child that by practicing they can achieve perfection (which, what is perfection even?) you can give them a very narrow margin for failure. If they do mess up (again, what's a mess up?) did they not practice enough? How many more hours will they need to practice to not mess up? And there goes their childhood.
No, obviously they're not. But you're telling them that they are can confuse their emotions and their coping mechanisms, which are still being formed. A dissonance between what they're feeling and what they're being told they're feeling is, if reenforced, a hard one to crack. As they grow older, they can doubt their emotions, and when they're in real hurt or pain stifle it rather than seek necessary help.
Again, not helpful. As a parent, if you're too quick to intercede on your child's behalf, it can stunt the growth of independent tendencies which which will give them a great sense of self-confidence and worth. If they feel that you are too crowding or assistive, they might come to resent that. They will also be ill-equipped to deal with their own problems when they're in a setting without mommies and daddies. Like college.
Again, intentions might be good, but real life consequences not so. Kids who grow up to believe "they are so smart" can learn to rest on their laurels, avoiding hard work by coasting. Moreover, it can also dissuade them from taking up harder tasks that might make them feel "not so smart" should they initially fail. Learning requires failure — and then success.
Sometimes they are. But sometimes they just don't want to do whatever it is you want them to do. Meet a coworker, get on the pony at the state fair. Whatever. The point is, again, parent, that you're discounting what the child is actually doing or feeling, and imposing your own explanation for it. Instead, ask them what's going on and how they're feeling — odds are, it isn't just a case of the sillies.
Again, labelling your child is not the answer. And shaming them by labeling them shy will likely not have the intended outcome — getting them to interact with others. It reenforces the state of mind that they might be in when they don't want to talk or socialize, and it can further their embarrassment. Whatever they're feeling in the moment is often ephemeral; by labeling it, you make it a more permanent state.
Talk about giving a kid an identity crisis. Kids are unique, even among families. And they should be. But by comparing them to their siblings, especially as a way to demonstrate how they're failing, not only discounts their individuality but also can give them an inferiority complex. Let your kids develop at their own pace and into their own people, and discipline them separately.
15. 'Stop, Or I'll Give You Something To Cry About!'
Threatening much? There's nothing like an open-ended, intimidating threat just hanging in the air to put the kid on edge for a long time. Either that, or, if the threat is an idle one, it will eventually lose its power and you'll have no way to discipline your child. For young kids, lessons take a long time to sink in, and even for older ones it can be hard to modify behavior. So just... take it easy.