Parenting is one of the most thankless jobs in the world. It is also one of the most important. As we each stumble and trip our way through being a parent, there are things we can do to be better moms and dads.
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This is part 1 of the Top 10 Mistakes Made By Parents of Middle School Students. Here are numbers 10-6:
10. Being a helicopter parent and saying “no” to everything
Your entire job, so far, for your child has been to protect them from bad things. However, it is imperative that your child starts to learn how to handle life.
This means he/she needs to start making some of his/her own decisions and making mistakes. This is hard for parents, especially when you see the mistakes coming.
It would be easy to tell your child, “No, you can’t hang out with Suzie because she is going to stab you in the back.” Or, “No, you can’t spend the night with Tommy because he is up to no good and you will get mixed up in it.”
As long as your child’s safety is not at stake, it is OK to start letting them experience mistakes on his/her own. Most people learn best from their own mistakes, not from the mistakes their parents made a million years ago.
Speaking from personal experience, this is difficult. I don’t think there is anything more painful than watching your child suffer, especially if it is consequences of something you might have been able to help prevent. Growing up is hard, for kids and parents alike.
9. Reacting to your teen’s/preteen’s mood swings
You’ve likely been there. Everything is swimming along pleasantly. People are smiling and laughing and all is well in your world. Then, out of nowhere, your son/daughter loses his/her mind.
If they have siblings, fists might be thrown. A parent may receive dirty looks, notice downward glances and hear slammed doors. Your teen is falling apart and your reaction is to let him/her have it.
I can say that nothing escalates my temper faster than the irrational negative behavior of my son. So, I am learning to fight the urge to react by yelling or rolling my eyes back.
Although all kids are different, I have found a great reaction to this behavior is to tell your child how much you love him/her and hold him/her close. It might seem counter-intuitive, but you will be surprised how much this works. Many times your son/daughter is testing the boundaries to see if you will still love them when he/she acts awful. Showing your child that you do love him/her usually quickly takes the edge off the situation.
8. Letting your child drop out of all extracurricular activities
Many times when students enter middle school they naturally want to retreat to their rooms and/or their phones/computers/TVs/game systems. Giving in to this is a mistake many parents make.
The truth is, being connected to a team, group, sport or other activity can be the one thing that motivates your child to keep up his/her grades and stay in school. Middle school, especially, is a time when students need to belong. Withdrawing is a way some kids try to protect themselves from being excluded. They think, “If I don’t participate, they can’t exclude me.”
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