When we think about being a good parent we have a tendancy to focus on changing the child’s behaviour because as adults and we know best, right? Wrong! Research has shown that becoming a better parent requires focus on developing ourselves first. And this applies not only to parenting but all relationships – change starts with you.
Mistake #1 – We modify child behaviour
Of course we do as that’s the number one guidance we get externally. Not to mention the fact that we are adults and we know how life is.
Take charge, set boundaries, make them safe… Most of these “tips” end up with you forcing your child to act differently, falsely, suppressing your child’s natural emotions and personality and inevitably creating issues later in life.
As we know, supressed emotions are held as cell memories in our bodies and these cell memories affect our behaviour, create our fears and reactions, and can cause illness and disease.
So, first things first – if you want to change your relationship with your child, start with yourself. Remember the same goes for all your relationships: with your spouse/partner, co-workers, your own parents and YOURSELF. It’s time to reconnect.
Mistake #2 – We project our critical feelings on to our children
…or on to someone who’s around us in that moment.
Can you remember how you reacted the last time you were self-critical or felt not good enough for something? The next time it happens, notice your behaviour, how you’re acting/reacting with your children, spouse/partner…
Frequently we project our feelings and self-critical attitudes onto those around us and become overly critical when we notice our projected feelings and qualities in others, especially children.
As a result, your children begin to look at themselves through the same negative filters setting up the ‘game’ which will accompany throughout life.
Do you want your child to be blocked, self-critical, have low self-worth for life?
Of course not! We all want our children to be better than we are, to offer them more than we were offered.
It’s time to STOP projecting your own criticism onto them. Engage in self-reflection and find your own behaviour patterns. Awareness is the key.
Mistake #3 – We react, rather than respond healthily when triggered
It seems that children are especially good at triggering and irritating us every day.
They eat ‘unhealthy food’, they persistently ask for, even scream for candy while you’re shopping, they mess up the house, draw on your newly painted walls…
And we react! Our egos want to fight until the end, to control and win the battle at all costs!
The result? Children get hurt, often even not realising why they’re being blamed as they were just being kids…
We don’t allow them to fully express their emotions, creating shut down and an unhealthy pattern which continues through their entire life. Causing them more pain and hurt than we can imagine.
Next time, before reacting in the heat of the moment, take a pause, breathe! When you become stressed and upset, you breathe more shallowly, deep breaths allow you to respond more appropriately from clarity instead of reactionary anger or fear.
Mistake #4 – We copy our parents (and usually the negatives)
Despite your best intentions, you are most likely to re-enact the strategies and reactionary behaviours that you were raised with.
We all experienced some form of rejection, deprivation or hostility in our earlier years. We were punished, when our parents lost control. And we took on their feelings and attitudes in the form of our own inner critical voice. An inner voice that limits and punishes us throughout our lives – like it’s parenting us.
And when we are parents ourselves, we use these behaviour patterns on our own children.
To break this vicious circle, carried from one generation to another (yes, your children will act the same!), you need to uncover your own hurts and traumas and recognise your own limiting, self sabotaging and even self-destructive attitudes.
Then you are able to give healthy guidance to your children and love them truly exactly as they are.
Mistake #5 – We suppress our emotions
Often your children’s behaviour reminds you of your own and reawakens painful feelings that you blocked long ago.
Rather than face your feelings you block them again, creating barriers and separation that keep you from connecting with and relating to your child.
These pushed aside emotions can create anger and blame towards your children and you defend yourself against the feelings being stirred up. And so, slowly, steadily, you lose the close connection with your children.
You need to make peace with your past and resolve anything that’s unresolved. Once you’ve done that, you will be more effective in all your relationships, including children. Journey work is a great set of tools to help you do that.
Mistake #6 – We forget that we’re the role models
Psychologists have found that children really “do as parents do, not as they say.” Being a positive role model for good behavior is far more powerful than specific training or disciplinary measures in raising children.
That should be reason enough to focus on developing yourself first to then have a positive impact on your children.
What qualities would you like to see in your children? Playful and caring attitudes? Honesty and integrity? Healthy response rather than unhealthy reactions?
Then be the change you’d like to see in the world. The way you act in front of your children is way more important than any techniques offered by child-rearing experts.
Mistake #7 – We beat ourselves for being bad parents
If your child gets hurt or falls ill, do you start blaming yourself that you didn’t protect him or her more? Do you punish your child? Do you feel bad for setting impossible limits for them?
We are so overly self-critical on ourselves that we think we are not good enough to raise happy, balanced children.
e compare our kids with the neighbours’ and see how the neighbour’s kids are better behaved, more successful, well adjusted compared to our own.
It has become a natural strategy in many of us, parent or not, to beat ourselves up for not being good enough. A strategy we learned at a young age when we got hurt, were rejected.
Remember, you’re a role model. When you think you’re not good enough, your children once they become parents will think and act the same.
Engage yourself in self-reflection, find what’s inside you that causes you to act like this. And resolve these blocks.