Thursday, February 7, 2013

All The Rest Of The Mistakes You (And I) Are Making As Parents

So last week I started in on the first 4 of the 8 common mistakes parents make.  As promised I’m back with the final four.  If you want background, check out last week’s story.  Otherwise, let’s get right to it:

5) Overscheduling your child.  I’m already seeing this creep in.  Honestly, I can see how parents quickly fall into this trap and not only aren’t sure how to extricate themselves from it, but don’t even realize they are stuck in it.  It starts with a pool membership, then a visit to a bounce house place that everyone agrees was enjoyable.  And then of course you want a trip to the zoo.  And a museum is a must.  And vacation, you just have to go to the beach – the kids need to see the sea.  And then there is music.  Music is important; everyone agrees.  But isn’t that a lot of seated activities?  We really need more active activities.  What about soccer?  Suddenly, an entire summer comes and goes.  You are exhausted, your kid are exhausted, you are angry, your kids are whiny.  And then they are 18 and its over and you overscheduled without even realizing it.  As the WebMD article says, the fix is easy: “give your child time to unwind with free play when he gets home from school.”  That is especially important since:

6) Underestimating the importance of play.  Enrichment programs probably won’t give your kid an edge.  And if you are reading this blog, preschool isn’t likely to either.  Free play is likely much more important to your child’s development, especially brain development.  As your child learns – and yes, fails – to put that puzzle piece where it belongs their brain is developing.  All through the process your little one is learning how to manipulate the piece, how the edges match up, how they interact, and yes, how to handle failure and frustration.

7) Getting distracted by the daily grind.  I’ve argued that parents need to step back, relax and give their kids room in the past.  But its important to give them undivided attention as well.  As the story says, “kids aren’t stupid.”  They know when you are on your iPhone that you aren’t really engaged.  Rather than give them 50% of your attention, block out an hour, or even a half an hour, and give them 100%.  Then let them play independently for the rest of the time while you take care of whatever it was on your iPhone that was important.  You’ll be happier, and they’ll be happier, and in the end, that is the essence of good child rearing.

8) Overreacting to lies.  I have no experience on this one.  My kids have a vocabulary of probably 10 words at the far end and like 3 at the near end.  Using words is still an accomplishment.  Using them to deceive seems unlikely to ever happen at this point.  But I’m now well aware that I shouldn’t overreact.  Fibbing is a normal part of your child’s life.

I’m 6 out of 7, with one not applying to my 18-month old triplets.  How did you fare?

Note: Next week I’m exploring ways to raise your child’s IQ.  Hint: It involves parent-child interaction, not toys and Einstein-based computer programs. Be sure to check back, because, hey, who doesn't want to raise their child's IQ? Smart, er, bad parents, that is who.

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