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11 Common Parenting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)


Parenting can certainly be challenging.  I mean, first off… nobody teaches us how to do this whole parenting thing right when we’re growing up.  And then, even if you are a parenting expert, kids are still going to be kids.  And there are just some things that you cannot control as a parent.

While I was studying to become a child therapist, I learned all about how to manage kids’ behaviors and foster healthy mental and emotional well-being… So much so that I “trained” parents on how to parent their children.

But in having my own child, I understand that it is easy to slip up and make mistakes.  And I understand that not everything can go as planned.

Still, I want to share the key strategies I’ve learned to help other mommies deal with their children’s behaviors.  So I’ve compiled a list of common mistakes that parents make… because I think that knowing what sorts of things to NOT do is a very good first step in figuring out what the heck to do.

Here are some mistakes that I frequently saw parents making while working as a child therapist (I’m a SAHM now).  Note that these are mistakes are related to managing your child’s behavior.

11 Common Parenting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

1. Not taking care of yourself as a parent/human being

Think about how you act around your child and toward your child when you are feeling upset or stressed. You likely parent better when you are feeling calm or happy. So in order to be a better parent to your child, you want to make sure that you are coping well with stress and taking care of yourself.

2. Not being mindful of your child’s stress

Oftentimes, parents are quick to say that a child is misbehaving. However, underneath the surface, children can be experiencing many different stressors.  And these stressors can contribute to them “acting out” or having a hard time managing their emotions. Therefore, it is important to be aware of child stress and to take measures to help your child cope with stress in order to prevent this “acting out.”

3. Not giving commands the right way

Many parents become upset when their children do not listen to them or follow their commands.  But there is actually some technique involved with giving commands in a way that will encourage listening. You can check out some of these techniques for giving commands the right way here.

4. Not setting reasonable expectations for your child

Some parents do not set rules or expectations for their children at all, while others may expect their children to read their minds or may set unreasonable expectations. In order to be an effective parent, you want to establish reasonable rules and expectations for your child.  And you want to state these expectations to your child clearly and remind your child of them frequently.

5. Not praising or rewarding your child enough

For every time you correct or give negative feedback to your child, you should praise and/or reward your child at least 5 times. Pulling this off can be a lot harder than it sounds. And there are specific techniques involved with praising and rewarding your child correctly.  So be sure to praise and reward your child frequently and effectively.

6. Giving too much attention to “bad” behaviors

Sometimes, giving attention to misbehavior can actually increase the behavior.  So you want to be careful that you are not inadvertently increasing a bad behavior by giving too much attention to it. Therefore, some behaviors can be ignored, but you want to be sure that you are doing so carefully and strategically.

7. Giving up on time-out because it’s not working

A lot of parents are quick to say that they have tried time-out and it did not work.  But there are actually specific techniques that you can use to ensure a time-out’s effectiveness. So before you give up on time-out, make sure that you’re doing it right and using these time-out techniques.

8. Using too much punishment

Parents who rely too heavily on punishment might not be using other essential parenting techniques. Although it is necessary to enforce consequences for misbehavior, relying too much on punishment can cause children to behave out of fear.  It can also damage the parent-child relationship.  When parents take away too many items or privileges, they can quickly and easily get to the point where they have nothing else that they can possibly take away.  Yet they may often find that their children still aren’t behaving. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are using other parenting techniques to avoid getting stuck in this situation.  And when you do use discipline, you want to make sure that you are using proper technique.

9. Not being consistent

This is a big one. Your child is likely going to push back on the new parenting strategies you try out, and it will appear as though the strategy is not working at first. This push-back is normal, so it is important to remain consistent in your approach so that you can get through the push-back and achieve parenting success.

10. Not being on the same page with your spouse/caregiving partner

People tend to take on parenting styles based on their own childhood experiences.  And because you likely did not have the exact same experience as your spouse/caregiving partner while growing up, you probably use a different parenting approach.  Oftentimes, when one parent shows an extreme style of parenting (i.e. extremely strict or extremely lenient), the other parent will feel as though he or she needs to balance it out by taking on the opposite extreme style.  However, it is best to work together to try to meet in the middle.

11. Not taking steps toward improving your parenting skills

Many parents are content with relying on what they’ve seen other parents (like their own parents) do in order to guide their own parenting skills.  They figure, “Hey, that’s what my parents did, and I turned out OK.”  So oftentimes, parents are falling back on outdated techniques.  And these outdated techniques might not necessarily be the most effective for your child and his overall well-being.  Therefore, I recommend reading up on research-based parenting approaches.  This will give you the peace of mind in knowing that you’re using the best approach.  If you don’t want to piece together articles from the Internet (many of which are not research-based), I offer an affordable course on parenting.  You can check it out here:

Building a Happy Nest: Learn How to Stop “Bad” Behavior and Get Your Child to Listen

I also offer a FREE mini course on getting your child to listen better, which you can sign up for below.

Don’t beat yourself up for making any of these mistakes. The purpose of this list is to simply increase your awareness about effective and ineffective parenting strategies.

You’ll notice that there is actually a good bit of technique involved with a lot of the strategies I mentioned above. If I hadn’t studied behavior management and parent training while working to become a child therapist, I probably still wouldn’t know these techniques. But I hope to share more about what I’ve learned with you so that you can put them into action, Mommy!

Have you been making any of these mistakes? I would love to hear from you!



Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist before I became a stay-at-home mom, I am not your therapist or your child’s therapist. Reading this post does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline and has not been individually tailored to the needs of you and your child. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor or behavior specialist.

References: My information comes from years of training on Applied Behavior Analysis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and other evidence-based techniques. I also like to refer to Russell Barkley and Alan Kazdin.

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