Tell me if this sounds familiar. Your 3-year-old toddler is having the time of her life running around the house and accidentally bumps into the couch. Now she starts crying and whatever you do, she just won't calm down! Something just snaps into you. You say "Did this couch hit you? Let's beat the couch" and you start smacking the life out of the poor couch. Alas! She stopped crying!!
A few days pass and you get a complaint from the school that your daughter is hitting her classmates and throws a tantrum when she is asked not to hit others. You are wondering where did this habit of hitting others come from or maybe even yelling at the child trying desperately to get her to stop hitting others.
In this blog, let's discuss some of the common mistakes made by Indian parents even without realizing it.
Failing to lead by example
Neglecting to fix problems
Putting academics first
Having unrealistic expectations
Avoiding rules and limits
Underestimating and overestimating problems
Fighting their child's battles
Extreme negative reinforcement
1. Failing to lead by example
Children look to models in their environment to learn what is acceptable and what isn’t. Because children are exposed to their parents the most, leading by example is very important. Being a good role model also allows kids to learn positive behaviors. For instance, it is beneficial for kids to see healthy communication and conflict resolution skills in action.
When parents lead with positive and healthy behaviors, children learn how to handle challenges or stressful situations with good coping skills. They also learn positive interpersonal skills and how to interact with others.
2. Being inconsistent
Few things can harm your children more than an inconsistent parenting style. If you are sometimes very strict, but give in other times, or simply don't seem to care what your kids are doing, they will have a very hard time knowing what is expected of them and how to act.
When parents are inconsistent with their parenting or discipline it creates miscommunication and mixed signals. Children will not take their parent’s authority seriously if parents do not follow through. This may lead to a lack of respect. With inconsistency, children also may become anxious and feel uncertain.
Indian parents tend to traditionally follow the controls and restrictions laid upon them.
For instance, if there is a guest, the child is forced to hug/kiss them, dance, and sing for them even if the child is not feeling comfortable doing it.
This over-controlling may create depression in the child, or even worse, it may create an irreversible hatred towards adults.
4. Neglecting to fix problems
Indian parents tend to have evolved a strong stubbornness to use anger as a fix for most of the issues that arise regarding their children. These common problems might include bedtime battles, frequent night wakings, temper tantrums, and behavior problems in older children.
Although it may take some hard work, most problems that you face as a parent can be worked through and changed or fixed. You may need some help, though. Your baby may not have come with instructions, but there are plenty of books, websites, and people that can help guide you through the challenges of parenting. Your pediatrician or another healthcare professional can be helpful when you face difficult or persistent problems.
5. Putting academics first
Indian parents strongly believe that a degree is necessary if their children are to achieve their goals.
According to the majority of Indian parents higher their kids scores, the more capable and intelligent they're considered to be.
This mindset influences the parents and they end up restricting their children to explore any field other than academics if they are not scoring well.
6. Having unrealistic expectations
If you have unrealistic expectations of what your kids should be doing, you can create problems. This often happens when parents get frustrated or impatient with a 2 1/2-year-old who still isn't interested in potty training, a 6-year-old who is wetting the bed, or a moody teenager. Make sure that your expectations match your child's developmental level.
When parents have unrealistic expectations of their kids, it places unrealistic standards of perfectionism. Most children want to feel accepted, especially by their parents.
If they feel they will disappoint them by not meeting these unrealistic expectations, they will become stressed and anxious. They may also struggle with low levels of self-esteem and seek validation from negative behaviors.
Having unrealistic expectations of your children also can cause kids to feel shame if they are unable to live up to those expectations. They also may develop negative beliefs about themselves as not being “good enough.” It can even lead them to develop anxiety.
7. Avoiding rules and limits
As a child, our Indie parents laid hundreds of rules and restrictions that always frustrated us. Now as we are parents ourselves, we wish to let our children have free will and do whatever they want. Most of us end up laying no ground rules at all.
You may think that you are doing your kids a favor by letting them do whatever they want, but most children, especially younger ones, find it hard to live without any guidelines. Having rules, setting limits, following consistent routines, and offering limited choices will help your child know and expect what is coming throughout the day.
When parents do not have rules or set limits, the risks include negative behavior, temper tantrums, hostility, defiance, and attention-seeking behaviors.
This impacts kids both short- and long-term in how they learn to respond to situations. In the short term, children may overstep boundaries and have little to no respect for their parents. In the long-term, children may feel they are entitled and expect to get what they want even with poor behavior.
8. Underestimating and overestimating problems
Before you try to fix problems, you have to first decide what is and isn't a problem. Unfortunately, parents sometimes overestimate or underestimate the problems they are facing with their kids.
Parents who underestimate problems with their children may accidentally miss important information, like if their child is struggling with depression or substance use. On the other hand, overestimating usually comes from anxiety and can cause children to their feel smothered by parents.
When parents underestimate problems, they can potentially invalidate their child's emotions and inadvertently teach them to avoid problems or issues. Parents who overestimate problems or issues are creating learned behaviors to catastrophize and emphasize negative situations.
9. Fighting their child's battles
Indian parents always tend to have an urge to keep their children safe and happy. This tendency leads to them fighting their child's battles without leaving the child an opportunity to learn by experience. While there are some situations where parents should step in to help their child navigate conflict, always fighting a child’s battles keeps them from learning how to interact with others.
With young children, parents should model how to handle conflict and assert themselves. But as kids get older, parents should gradually encourage children to take on more conflict resolution.
When parents fight their children’s battles it teaches them that they do not have a voice. Children should be encouraged to be direct and assertive in a positive way. This helps tho create their own healthy boundaries with others.
10. Extreme negative reinforcement
The majority of Indian parents fail to understand the difference between correcting the child with consequences and traumatizing the child with consequences. They tend to punish the children way too hard for smaller issues.
And most of the time, beating the child or scaring them to their lives becomes their first "go-to" option in correcting their child's behaviors.
This extreme negative reinforcement traumatizes the child and may cause anxiety, depression, or even worse, a strong hatred towards the parent!
To avoid this, make sure that the consequence laid upon is in balance with the seriousness of the bad behavior. If the child spilled something on the dinner table, let the child wipe it clean and calmly advise the child about their mistake instead of yelling at the child and hurting them emotionally.
If the child had beaten any of his / her classmates or friend, instead of beating up the kid, restrict their screen time for a week and also make the child apologize to the friend he/she had beaten.
While physical and mental abuse will increase the behavior and may result in the child doing it behind your back, knowing that their actions will have consequences will make the child avoid those actions.
Times are changing and so should we. It's about time we Indian parents understand the traditional mistakes we have been doing even without realizing and give our children a future where they get the freedom to express their needs, desires, and rights without a teensy bit of hesitation.
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