Roger Rollins

Roger Rollins

"Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.” — Bill Ayers

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” — Bible

Joe had a habit of asking his son to do something but when the response wasn’t forthcoming Joe often would accomplish the task himself. His son was learning to ignore his dad when he wanted to.

Jack had a different mode of behavior with his son. Jack would insist on responsive behavior, but he gave his son the impression that whatever it was, his behavior wasn’t satisfactory. His son was getting the idea that his dad didn’t just dislike the behavior, he didn’t like his son.

Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do,” describes the “seven biggest parenting mistakes that crush kids’ confidence”:

1. Letting them escape responsibility – You’ve probably heard of what happens when we help a baby chicken break out of its egg. It fails to develop the strength it needs to survive and often dies. Our young people need to experience responsibility at an increasing level as they grow. They learn accountability and see themselves as capable and competent.

2. Preventing them from making mistakes – We don’t like to see our children fail or mess up, so we rush in to save them. But unless their life is in danger, it’s often better to let them learn how to recover and bounce back. We can be there to “mentor” them, but not to bail them out. If they are constantly forgetting to take their school book to class, we don’t need to jump in the car and take it to them every time.

3. Protecting them from their emotions – Our reactions to our children’s emotions have a big impact on the development of their emotional intelligence and self-esteem. Help them understand their feelings and guide them in dealing with their emotions in a socially appropriate way. We can develop the proverbial cry baby by over-sympathizing with them every time something upsets them.

4. Condoning a victim mentality – “Saying things like ‘we can’t afford new shoes like the other kids because we come from a poor background’ reinforces to your child that most of life’s circumstances are out of their control. Kids who recognize their choices in life feel more confident in their ability to create a better future for themselves.” Many people in society today seem to have developed a victim mentality. They conclude that everything negative that happens to them is someone else’s fault. They take no responsibility themselves. Children need to understand that although they can’t always control circumstances, they can control how they react to those circumstances.

5. Being overprotective – We live in a challenging world. We can keep our children in a bubble or we can gradually (and cautiously) expose them to some of the world’s ways. Involving our children as we reach out to help others less fortunate can be a real learning experience.

6. Expecting perfection – According to a study published in the American Psychological Association, “Although parental aspiration can help improve children’s academic performance, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous.” (Kou Murayama, University of Reading).

“High expectations are healthy, but expecting too much has its consequences. When kids view expectations as too high, they might not even bother trying or they might feel as though they’ll never measure up. Instead, give clear expectations for the long-term and set milestones along the way. For example, going to college is a long-term expectation, so help them create short-term goals along the way (e.g., getting good grades, doing their homework, reading).”

7. Punishing, rather than disciplining – When mistakes are made, our children need to understand that they made a bad choice, but they aren’t a bad person. “In other words, discipline gives your child confidence that they can make smarter, healthier choices in the future, while punishment makes them think they’re incapable of doing any better.”

Roger Rollins is the executive director of The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. Contact him at 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com or www.aikenfamco.com.