Most of us learn about parenting through our experiences being parented. It’s where we get our first cues about how we ought to feel about ourselves and the world around us. Parenting is a big responsibility and it’s not easy. There is no perfect child and there is no perfect parent. Having made a mistake doesn’t mean you a failed parent. It’s about taking responsibility, forgiving yourself, and moving forward.
When challenge arise and things don’t go as planned, you can recover. By being self-aware and having compassion for yourself, you can overcome common parenting missteps.
- Taking out your anger and frustration on your teens. There will be certain behaviors that will make you want to lash out at your adolescent. Feelings of frustration, anger, and disappointment can arise when a teen fails to engage in expected or desired behavior. When this happens, it can sometimes be challenging to remain calm. When parents lose it, kids catch on and learn what will make their parents respond. After an angry reaction, taking responsibility for your own actions can be a learning opportunity for your teen. Even when kids misbehave, it’s alright to acknowledge it when you wish you had responded differently. Let them know the next time you get frustrated with a decision they make, that give yourself some space, and then come back to discuss the situation.
- Inconsistent Discipline. When your teen is acting angry and defiant, it can be challenging to implement consequences. Learning to establish consistent responses is an essential part of effective discipline. Reflect on how you discipline as a parent and become aware of the areas of inconsistency. Was it because you forgot what limit had been set, were you too tired, or maybe you felt like you were being too hard on your teen? Whatever the reason, identify your challenge and make a plan to change. As the brain continues to develop during adolescence, remember that it’s normal teens to test boundaries. It’s a parent’s role to set limits and enforce them. You are there to help guide them through this transitional time.
- Doing too much. When a teen ends up not doing their chores after being told six times, it begins to feel like it’s easier to just do it yourself. However, this teaches your teen they don’t have to follow through on what’s expected and they’ll be rewarded for that behavior. When your teen doesn’t follow through or listen, don’t rescue them. Instead, set clear consequences for not following chores or being accountable. Make sure the consequence will teach them, not punish them.
- Ineffective consequences. In a moment of frustration, it’s very easy to blurt out, “You’re grounded for the rest of the summer” or “I’m taking away your cellphone for good.” Stop and ask yourself if such consequences are effective or realistic. Consequences need to teach your teen to change his or her behavior. Forgive yourself as a parent; learn to walk away when the conversation is heated and come back calm. This will help to create well-thought out consequences that will be realistic and appropriate, creating a teachable moment for your adolescent. Better yet, sit down with your teen and develop consequences for certain behaviors ahead of time, so they are also aware of your expectations of them and the consequences for not following through.
When you notice you’re being hard on your parenting self, remember to not place blame, but to extend compassion to yourself, take responsibility, and plan to make a change. Have realistic expectations or yourself and your teenager. Modeling accountability, self-awareness, and growth will help instill those values in your child.