Most parents try to give the best of them in educating their children. Unfortunately, often good intentions are not enough. In many cases, the parental behaviour, far from being good for the children, is often damaging their self-esteem and creates emotional wounds. In some cases the problem is that parents repeat educational models learned from their parents, in other cases the problem is that they practice exactly the opposite pattern.
The behaviours that affect the emotional development of children
Sometime parents assume behaviours that harm their children. Being aware of these attitudes and behaviours will enable to eliminate them, to build a relationship that is truly productive, not only for the child, but also for the parents. Because parenting can be an enriching experience of personal growth.
1. Being hypercriticals. Constructive criticism is always welcome, because it helps the child to grow. A positive criticism underlines errors and provides opportunities for change. However, the constant and excessive critique can become very destructive, generating in the child a feeling of failure. A child with overly critical parents ends up being wary of his abilities, develops low self-esteem and a tendency to perfectionism, which in time will turn into an obstacle.
2. Punishing negative emotions. The distinction between positive and negative emotions is absurd. Fear can save lives in certain circumstances and becomes an obstacle in others. However, many parents repress in their children those emotions that believe are negative such as fear, anger, sadness or frustration. In this way they get only to incapacitate their children, making them feel inadequate because are feeling emotions they shouldn’t, according to them. We must remember that we cannot avoid feeling emotions, the issue is to be able to channel those emotions. Therefore, you shouldn’t repress emotions in your children, but teach how to handle them.
3. Let them decide on their own. Many adults think that children don’t have a say, they do not know how and should not decide. But the fact is that children are born with a kind of compass for happiness. Maybe they don’t have experience, but know what makes them happy and what makes them sad. Parents, who continue to decide for their children and impose their ideas, end up creating a wayward son or an insecure and emotionally dependent person, which is not able to make decisions on his own. Therefore, the best alternative is to gradually give them more freedom so to begin to take those decisions they have on hand.
4. lnstill fear into them. Children have no sense of danger, but this is not a valid reason to instill in them fear of life. It is true that parents have to worry to maintain children safe and must avoid unnecessary accidents, but from here to forbid anything by putting them under a glass bell, there is a big difference. Children also need to explore, to make mistakes and experience pain. This way they become stronger and learn to face life with confidence, relying on their abilities. If we instill fear, we will create an insecure person afraid of life. Living with fear is not living.
5. Generating sense of guilt. Parenting is difficult, but this is not an excuse to vent frustrations on children. In fact, there’re parents who blame their children of having been unable to complete their studies, for the breakdown of their marriage or even for their illnesses. In practice, they turn the child in the only responsible for their happiness or unhappiness. But when a child grows up with the heavy burden of guilt, he will bend under the weight and becomes an adult who depends on the approval of others, who is unable to make decisions fearing the consequences. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the words we use with our children, and we must avoid recriminations.
6. Conditioning love. During the early years of a child’s life it comes a critical period during which the child must develop a secure bond. If parents meet his needs, not only physiologicals but also affective, the child will understand that it is growing in a safe environment. On the contrary, if parents condition their love to certain behaviours or success, the child will think to not deserve to be loved. This is a feeling that probably will drag with him for most of his life, he will think to not deserve love and respect from others, and this will affect his relationships. Therefore, it would be best to avoid using phrases like “you’ve been naughty, I don’t love you anymore” or “you’ve been bad at school, you don’t deserve all that we gave to you”. Instead, you should tell him you love him unconditionally, beyond his errors.
7. Do not set limits. One of the biggest mistakes modern parents are doing is to not set limits. Some parents confuse freedom with lack of discipline. But children who grow up without limits or rules tend to develop challenging behaviours, simply they’re not happy. When small children are discovering the world, the limits serve to keep them safe. In addition, rules give an order to their world, allowing them to know what is expected of them so to act accordingly. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the house should be transformed into army barracks, but there must be some limits and rules to ensure the family life and the proper psychological development of the children.