Parenting is one of the most rewarding privileges anyone can experience in life. But there are also distinct challenges parents face every single day-ensuring the welfare and happiness of their children while helping them navigate their fears, concerns and heartaches.
Though you may believe you're doing an exceptional job teaching and nurturing your children, some things you are doing may be unknowingly causing your kids anxiety and sleepless nights.
1. Keep secrets
While you may intend to protect your kids from sensitive situations, secrets may cause more harm than good. In a recent interview with CreditCards.com, licensed psychologist Robin Goodman explains, "If they think their parents are keeping secrets, it's often scarier. Kids always think that whatever is going on it has to do with them. They think it's their fault, they're responsible for either why it's happening or for not solving it." That's the last thing you want your child to feel.
Instead of covering something up, find an age-appropriate way to use these opportunities to help your kids learn. Your kids know more than you may realize and need a way. You'll be amazed to learn the things they are just waiting to tell you if they know you're really listening.
2. Carry stress
Stressing too much? Stop. Take a break. Do something for yourself. Or your kids will take on your stress, too.
"Stress is contagious," says Kristen Race, author of Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today's Hectic World. "The brain's mirror neurons fire in response to the emotions we witness. So when parents are stressed, kids are actually mirroring the emotional state. Even if parents aren't talking about it, the kids are still picking up on it."
3. Reveal financial difficulties
It's important to help your kids learn about keeping a budget. Sometimes, financial setbacks arise, offering the perfect opportunity to help your kids learn why you may have to scrimp and save for a while. But be careful about how much information you reveal. Your children have enough to worry about as they continue to grow and develop, and talking to them about not having money to put food on the table, pay for housing, or purchase the basic essentials of life may lead to a lot of sleepless nights.
4. Too many extracurricular activities
Don't confuse your own passion for an activity, sport or musical instrument with the feelings of your child. Kids need to stretch themselves, and it's your job to teach them not to give up on something they find "hard".
Encourage your child to participate in a wide variety of activities, but if she indicates she is not interested in the activity you're pushing her to pursue, it's time to take a step back and address your behavior. Always give your child agency to choose her extracurricular activities. If you want to raise an MVP, follow this tip closely.
5. Lack of love and affirmation
Most children are capable of giving and receiving love in abundance, but if you neglect to share words of love and encouragement with them, you may damage their self-esteem permanently. Kids need to know you care.
Even if sharing feelings is not your strong point, try to do your part to make your children feel loved. Children need to be disciplined when they make mistakes, but they also need to be nurtured, loved and told they are important. The less you express your love, the more distance you'll create between you and your child.
6. Broken commitments
Children are usually quick to forgive mistakes-even mistakes made by their parents. Frequently breaking promises and commitments to your children is an easy way to lose trust and cause them severe emotional harm.
Children have great memories and will expect you to own up to your promises. If you make a promise to your child, do your very best to keep it. If something comes up and you're forced to cancel, let your child know ahead of time and take the time to make it up to him. If you make a habit of breaking your commitments, though, your child will feel unimportant and abandoned.
7. Criticizing your spouse
While you may joke around about the flaws of your spouse, openly criticizing the habits and actions of him or her in front of your children is a dangerous mistake. Successful families require parents who work together.
No matter what difficulties you're experiencing in your marriage, always make sure to speak positively of your spouse when your children are present. If you say negative things, your children will sense there are problems, and they will worry endlessly about separation or possibly even divorce, even if it's not warranted.
Your kids have a lot to worry about. Free To Choose Network and David Robinson, a former NBA MVP and Olympian basketball player, talk frankly with teenagers about the issues they face everyday, speaking candidly about their life experiences, families, and what forces influence them everyday. Click here to see the interview.