Raising children can be a hugely rewarding, life-enriching experience but it can also be a huge source of stress and sometimes even despair. There are those who will wax lyrical about how every moment of child-rearing is a joy, but any realistic parent knows that those people are liars.
Children lie to their parents. They can be sneaky. They don’t listen to what they’re told and somehow, they can often seem to have been born with the ability to press just the right buttons to drive Mum and Dad nuts.
None of this is really news to most parents. But many don’t stop to think that some of the things that they do might be driving their kids just as crazy and adding to THEIR stress.
We all want to raise kids that are good, well-adjusted creatures who do well in school, in sport, and in life, are popular and who will grow up to be useful, successful people in their own right. This is especially true sometimes of parents whose kids are involved in organized sports like gymnastics.
We also hope we can raise our kids to do better and have a better life than we have, but in doing so often hold some hypocritically high standards for our children, especially when they reach their tween and teen years.
Are you guilty of this? Consider these behaviors (and be honest here) and if you can see yourself in any of them then the time has come to learn to lighten up.
Expecting Your Child to Always be in a Good Mood
It’s annoying (to say the least) when you come home from a long day at work and your kid is in a bad mood. Why? You are the one who has toiled all day to keep a roof over their head and food on the table – as well as pay for that new leotard they were so desperate for. Surely the least they could do is stop their silly sulk that’s adding to your stress.
The fact is though, kids have bad days too. They get a bad test score. They had a terrible practice in the gym. They could not master a brand-new routine even after eight attempts. They had a fight with their BFF. The teacher or their coach was particularly mean today (at least they thought so).
The fact is that children experience things during their day that anger them, stress them out and upset them just like you do. They deserve to be cut a bit of slack. Kids are not always going to be in a good mood and parents just have to accept that. Now, if they are never in a good mood, that’s a different story. But for the most part leaving them alone, while making the offer that you are there to talk if they need it, is better than haranguing them to ‘cheer up’ just because it will make you feel better.
Expecting Your Child to Be Perfect in School or in Sports
There is nothing wrong with wanting your child to do well at school and in sports. There is nothing wrong with encouraging them to do so and for setting boundaries for study times or encouraging them to stick to their practice routines. There is even nothing wrong with becoming a little frustrated when they get a low mark in a test or perform not quite up to their best standard at a meet. But expecting your child to be perfect in school or in sports is not just unreasonable, it can border on cruel if you set the bar too high.
Are you perfect at work? Do you never make a mistake? No, you do, and you learn from it, continue to try to do your best and move on. You should encourage your children to do the same and try to sympathize a little more when things don’t quite go to plan.
Expecting Your Child Never to Mess Up
It’s frustrating when a child messes up for sure. How did they rip those jeans? How did they manage to get that move wrong when they had practiced it a hundred times? How did they manage to drop that phone? Do they think iPhone screens grow on trees?
The question here to ask yourself is why do we often hold kids to a higher standard than we do ourselves? If you did sports at school did you never make a mistake or put in a less than perfect performance? One odd step or slip and you might drop your phone as well. And the chances are you’d be mad, but you’d forgive yourself and move on to finding a solution to the problem. So, if you don’t do the same for your kids then yes, you are being quite unreasonable.
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