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Surprising Ways Well-Meaning Parents Harm Their Children

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No one ever says, “I want to be a bad parent and make life difficult for my children.” This is why parenting books proliferate and the hot topic among most parents is how to build intelligent, kind, resilient children. But all too often, good intentions can turn into problems.

In fact, listening to too much parenting advice or fretting too much over each decision you make can actually lead you to make the wrong decisions for your children. Here are some common parenting mistakes that even the best parents can make.

Drilling and Flashcards
Everyone wants a smart child, and when parents are involved in their children’s education, children tend to excel. Many parents invest in flashcards and worksheets to drill their children on important concepts. However, this approach frequently backfires.

Children learn best in a naturalistic setting, and drilling teaches children that learning is boring and not an important part of daily life. Rather than using drills, practice math when counting money; practice reading by reading signs together, and learn about science by observing the natural world and going on hikes.

Being Too Friendly
It’s important that your child be able to confide in you and that you know her friends. However, as children turn into teenagers, they need a zone of privacy to explore their identity and make their own mistakes. By trying too hard to be your child’s friend, and by becoming overly involved with her friends, you teach her dependence, which can cripple her social skills and make it difficult for her to function without you.

Protecting From Information
There’s a long list of uncomfortable subjects many parents avoid discussing until their children are a certain age –— religion, sex, drugs, family secrets, etc. But when you avoid giving your child information, you increase the likelihood she will get it elsewhere. And that information may be substantially less reliable.

Rather than waiting for a specific age, answer questions in an honest, age-appropriate way. This fosters a lifetime of communication between you and your child, and makes it more likely that your child will come to you when she needs information.

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EmpowHER Guest

As a child psychologist and a mom, I've spent lots of time discussing what I think is "wrong" with our generation of parents (myself included). Here's one of the biggest differences that I think exists and that is that we are the generation who have all been to therapy and blame our parents for our mistakes. So, when the table is turned and we have children of our own, we are terrified of "damaging" them in the way we feel our parents "damaged" us. I talk more about it here:

May 8, 2012 - 9:47am
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