BEING a parent is a tough job and it’s totally normal to make mistakes.
We’ve spoken to the experts who have listed the most common parenting mistakes most parents don’t even realise they’re making.
An expert reveals the biggest mistake parents often make
Dr Naveen Sharma explained that becoming a parent is a wonderful journey but it also means needing to deal with new challenges and learning new things.
The consultant Psychiatrist, with over 15 years experience working in the NHS across inpatients and community settings, said it’s no surprise parents make mistakes along the way.
Having worked with parents struggling with their mental health, the expert understands how much pressure parents put on themselves and its impact on their mental health.
He said: “As a father of two children, I have plenty of experience of making parenting mistakes and also learned from the mistakes of other friends and colleagues.
“In this age of social media, there are lots of 'seemingly perfect parents on Insta and Tiktok' and lots of people happy to offer their 'advice' and criticism.
“So, it is vital that parents know that everyone makes mistakes and are not too hard on themselves.”
Dr Sharma who co-founded Bluebell baby Monitor with two other dads, revealed the most common parenting mistakes that most don’t even realise they’re making.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION OF A PERFECT PARENTHOOD
The psychologist explained that most parents make the mistake of having an unrealistic expectation of perfect parenthood.
He explained caring for a baby 24/7 who is totally dependent on you is hard.
He said: “When parents inevitably face challenges, they can start to blame themselves and feel guilty about not enjoying parenthood.
“It is important to know that everyone's experiences are different and there will be bumps along the way.”
OBSESSION WITH SLEEP
Dr Naveen Sharma also said sleep has become a big topic and parents can obsess over it.
The reality is that babies sleep little and often unlike adults, and every baby would have their own sleep pattern.
He said: “Putting too much pressure on yourself for the baby to sleep through the night would only add to your frustration.
“That's not to say that you don't try to maintain a good sleep routine but expect to take two steps forward and one step backward.
“Try and grab naps; and share night-time feeds and nappy changing duties if you can.”
The psychologist went on to explain that parents can get obsessed with comparing a baby's growth and milestones with other babies - without even realising it.
But every child is different and grows at their own pace - even siblings can be completely different.
FORGETTING THAT KIDS LEARN BY WATCHING YOU
Dr Naveen Sharma also explained that many parents make the mistake of forgetting that kids learn by watching them.
The expert said: “Kids are indeed like sponges when it comes to learning new things and behaviours and you are their biggest role model.
“Be mindful about what you do and how you behave in front of them, particularly how you deal with frustration.”
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He added: “There is nothing wrong with making mistakes as that's how we learn. Expect to make mistakes and don't be too hard on yourself and definitely don't compare your experience with others.
“As children learn from you, you can also learn a lot from your kids by observing them, and talking to them as they get older.”
FORGETTING THAT KIDS GROW
Elsewhere parenting expert and former super head teacher Leon Hady, from Guide Plus, said working with parents for over a decade in schools and tuition centres has given him insight into mistakes parents make with children.
One of the common mistakes is when parents forget that kids grow. He said the main issue is that parents still expect their children to respond as they did as toddlers.
He commented: “It’s patronising for the children and makes a real disconnect where children become dismissive of parents as they grow older and that isn’t recognised in behaviour change from parents.”
BELIEVING YOUR CHILD WILL BE THE SAME AS YOU AT SCHOOL
Parenting expert Leon also added that some parents make the mistake of believing their academic ability is linked to their child’s - and he finds this the most heartbreaking.
Most parents haven’t heard of growth mindset or neuro-plasticity so sadly they say things like ‘well, I was never good at school, so I’m not surprised my child is no different.’
He said: “This is wrong, every brain can learn and change when challenged.
“Your ability and opportunities or lack of, is no hindrance to your child unless you make it so. Stop believing they can’t because you couldn’t (and for the record you still can!)”
NOT REWARDING YOUR CHILD’S POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR
Meanwhile, licensed child psychologist from online tutoring platform GoStudent Lisette Kuijt explained parents are always learning.
But there’s some ways of acting that you might not immediately think to adopt, that will help you to better understand how and why your child behaves or responds in a certain way.
She said: “It is important to remember that parenting is a journey, and every day you and your children are learning how best to communicate and get the best out of each other.
“Confidence and self-worth is very fragile in children. Every day, they encounter moments of failure or rejection at home and at school.
“It’s very important to compliment or reward the positive behaviour of your child too! This will create a positive bond between you and your child, and will also increase the chance of this positive behaviour happening again!”
NOT HELPING YOUR CHILD UNDERSTAND THEIR EMOTIONS
Child psychologist Lisette also added that some parents make the mistake of not helping their child understand their emotions.
Young children have difficulty verbalising their emotions - when they are angry, they cry, when they are sad, they cry - but it can also be difficult for them to understand what they are feeling and why they are feeling this.
Lisette explained: “Next time your child is, for example, crying because their sibling took their favourite toy, try to name the emotion that they are feeling and the reason why they are feeling it: “You are feeling angry, because your sister took your toy.”
“This will help your child develop their emotional intelligence.”
TOP PARENTING TIPS
Dr Sharma said: “Many parents continue to struggle on their own, and leave it too late to ask for help if things get too difficult.
“But, remember what worked for someone else might not work for you and your baby!”
In more parenting news, experts reveal why you should NEVER threaten to leave your child behind when they’re throwing a tantrum.
And the baby sleep techniques which REALLY work, according to the experts – and what parents shouldn’t bother with
Plus this nursery worker explains what she means when she says your child’s been ‘a monkey’ or ‘very vocal’