Frustrating, isn’t it?
You try your best as a parent.
You love your children unconditionally. You spend time with them. You give them gifts. You provide them with everything they need.
But somehow they don’t seem to appreciate it.
They complain about their lives. And – more annoyingly – they complain about you being a naggy, unreasonable parent.
You wonder to yourself, “Why don’t they appreciate everything I do for them?”
If this describes your situation, I’m here to help.
Having worked with thousands of children and teens, I realise there are many common mistakes that parents don’t even know they’re making.
I’ll explain 12 of these mistakes, which may be causing your child to be unhappy and unmotivated. (Some of them might surprise you as being mistakes!)
1. Making your children the center of the universe.
Does your family’s schedule revolve around your children?
Their homework, their needs, their activities, their music lessons, their enrichment classes … the list goes on.
Of course, children have practical needs. But when everything revolves around them, they may become self-centred.
And when they’re constantly thinking about themselves – instead of focusing on the needs of others – they’re more likely to be unhappy.
After all, the people who lead the happiest, most meaningful lives are the ones who concentrate on serving others.
So allow your kids to experience a family environment where others receive as much attention as they do. They’ll benefit from it.
2. Constantly telling your children how special they are.
“You can be anything you want to be.”
“You did a fantastic job!”
“You’re so clever!”
If you say these kinds of things to your children too often, they may develop a sense of entitlement.
They may start thinking to themselves, “I’m special, so I should be able to achieve success even if I don’t try too hard.”
This kind of thinking sets children up for misery down the road, because nothing in life worth achieving ever comes easily.
It’s not wrong to encourage your children – just be sure they don’t end up thinking they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
3. Expecting the worst from your children.
Some parents say the following to their children:
- “You’re so irresponsible.”
- “You’re useless!”
- “You’re stupid!”
- “Why can’t you do anything right?”
- “Why are you so unmotivated?”
- “You didn’t do your homework, right?”
- “Did you get in trouble with your teacher?”
- “Are you hanging out with bad company again?”
Saying these things to your children won’t make them change their behaviour. This is because over time they’ll internalise those labels they’ve been given.
A child who believes he’s “irresponsible” and “unmotivated” won’t magically become responsible and motivated. Instead, he’ll act out the negative traits he’s been labeled with. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What’s the alternative?
Read on to the next point.
4. Not acknowledging your children’s good behaviour.
Don’t let your children’s good behaviour go unnoticed.
For example, if you observe that your child has managed to focus for 20 minutes straight, say with a smile, “I notice that you managed to concentrate for 20 minutes. Well done!”
If your child submits his homework on time, praise him for it: “I’m proud of you for getting your homework done and for submitting it on time.”
These are simple comments that make a huge difference. The more you focus on your children’s good behaviour, the more it will multiply.
5. Trying to achieve your dreams through your children.
It’s easy to see your children as an extension of yourself. After all, your children have half of your genes.
But if you try to achieve your own dreams through your children, they won’t find enduring happiness and success.
I even know parents who have forced their children to become doctors or lawyers, because those were their unfulfilled career ambitions.
Each of us has our own race to run, so don’t coerce your children into following your own agenda.
6. Disciplining your children when you’re angry.
If you want your children to be confident and well-adjusted, you must discipline them.
But this discipline shouldn’t be carried out in the heat of the moment.
If you discipline your children when you’re angry, you’re likely to mete out unreasonable punishments or use excessive force.
In the long run, this will make your children feel bitter and resentful.
So if you’re on the verge of losing your cool, remove yourself from the situation for 10 to 15 minutes. Discipline your child only when you’ve calmed down. You’ll feel better about it, and in the end, so will they.