Parenting Tactics We Need To Let Go Of In 2021
Parenthood is never easy, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t all trying our best. Parenting strategies have evolved over time, and no matter what generation you grew up in, it might be time to ditch some of the disciplinary techniques you’ve been accustomed to. The process of “unlearning” toxic habits can be an uphill battle, but as parents, the more we know better, the more we can do better.
Here are some problematic parenting techniques we can safely leave behind in the modern era:
Using children as therapists
As society becomes more accepting of mental health assessment and treatment, it’s time to stop using children as relationship therapists. As much as possible, do your best to avoid belittling your spouse, gossiping about friends, or complaining about your marriage or workplace relationships in front of your children. Children aren’t equipped to process this information, and they aren’t trained doctors, which means they can only listen but they can’t offer any help. Bringing adult issues like interpersonal conflict or marriage crises into your child’s life is not benefical to their development and may end up causing more problems over time as your child attempts to understand complex situations that don’t apply to them. If you are feeling stressed about a relationship or situation in your life, refrain from complaining about it in front of your child, and instead find a trusted friend, family member, or licensed therapist to work through your feelings with.
Playing the comparison game
If you have more than one child, it can be tempting to fall into the comparison trap. One child might have an easier time in school than the other, one child might have more behavioral problems than the other, one child might be a pickier eater than the other, or one child might be more athletic than the other. Comparing siblings has never benefited children, and when kids feel like they have to compete for their parents’ approval and affection, numerous issues arise. Refrain from saying, “Why can’t you just be more like your sister (or brother)?” Statements like this are hurtful and can cause a child’s self esteem to wither away. No matter what issues each child might present to you, show them that you value their individuality and their personal strengths.
Treating children like tiny adults
Children are not miniature adults, so it’s illogical to expect adult behavior from small children. Parents need to stop setting the bar so high, and make sure that their expectations are developmentally appropriate for their child’s age and maturity level. It is normal for children to turn up their noses at new foods, be restless during long outings, have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time, and get upset or jealous when someone takes something they think belongs to them. Children will grow and mature in time, but parents need to be aware of their expectations.
Emphasizing competition over character
Some parents become obsessed about competition and being at the top. Whether it’s sports, academics, or music, parents who obsess over winning can damage their child’s self esteem. Parents need to learn that competition isn’t always about being the best; it’s about building character. Teach your child that perseverance, practice, teamwork, and compassion matter more than being the best at something.
Worrying about “spoiled” infants
You cannot spoil a baby. Despite what the older generations might say, it is impossible to spoil an infant. Holding your baby, comforting her when she cries, being attentive to her needs, rocking her to sleep, feeding her on demand, or cuddling her will not cause her to grow up to be an entitled, spoiled brat. Babies need love and attention, and are hardwired to crave affection. Don’t feel guilty about wearing your baby in a carrier, rocking your baby to sleep every night, or picking up your baby every time she cries. You are building a positive, supportive relationship with your child.
Public or online humiliation
In today’s social media age, children grow up having an online identity before they are even old enough to create an online presence for themselves. Parents should be careful not to shame their children online, post embarrassing pictures, or constantly complain about their children. The same goes for parents who make fun of their children in public, force them to do embarrassing things as a form of punishment, or complain endlessly about the child’s behavior in the presence of that child. Parents need to be aware that the early years are vital to a child’s self confidence and self awareness, and it’s our job to help them see their own self worth.
Dismissing your child’s feelings
Invalidating a child’s emotions just because they are young can be really damaging. Ignoring a child, belittling a child, making fun of a child, or shutting down a child in the middle of a tantrum or outburst can do more harm than good. Just because children are young, doesn’t mean their emotions aren’t worth paying attention to. Children have big feelings, and often times don’t know how to cope with them. The next time your child has an emotional outburst, try to get on his level and empathize with him. Ask your child why he’s upset or worried. Reassure your child that you are there for him, to comfort and protect him, no matter what the situation may be. Sometimes all a child needs is to feel seen and heard.
Gaslighting or re-writing history
Gaslighting refers to denying facts in an attempt to make another person question their feelings or reality. If you make a mistake in your parenting, own up to it. Be honest with your children about your shortcomings, and how you’d like to do better in the future. Discuss how certain parenting strategies may have caused your children stress, loneliness, or confusion, and ask them how you can do better in the future. Nobody is a perfect parent, and you don’t need to pretend to be one.
Parents can choose to “unlearn” these harmful parenting strategies, and aim to do better in raising their children in today’s age. As more research and information becomes available about how our behavior as parents affects our children, it’s important to be mindful of how we treat our kids.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.