Things you may consider trivial may be affecting your kids in ways you never intended. From putting yourself down to gossiping (even innocently) about other parents, you could be sending your kids the wrong message.
Calling yourself fat/stupid… etc.
Putting yourself down in general is a no-no, and you should never call yourself out in front of your kids. Remember that you’re their role model. Would you want to be the reason they might end up calling themselves fat or stupid one day?
As much as we hate to admit it, it’s easy to get caught up in the “water cooler chat,” whether at the office, at the kids’ school or among your circle of friends. But it’s simply toxic, negative and an utter waste of time.
Judging other parents
You really have no idea what goes on in other people’s private lives, so instead of coming from a place of judgement about other parenting methods or techniques, come from a place of compassion, understanding and acceptance (unless, of course, you witness another parent harming a child).
Licensed marriage and family therapist Kim Blackham says, “Parents are the filter through which kids see the world. If parents are continually judging themselves and others through harsh comments and gossip, children will not only see others the same way, but will also develop a critical and shame-filled view of themselves. When developing their own sense of worth, kids will hear their parent’s critical comments echoing in their mind — regardless of who those comments were originally directed to.” So keep it positive when you’re talking about yourself or others — if not for yourself, for your kids.
Putting yourself or your relationship last
Moms, we tend to put ourselves last behind the needs of our families and jobs. But that’s a real quick way to get burnt out or form a wedge between you and your most beloved. Make time for yourself so you can tend to others better — and don’t forget your honey. Date night, whether it’s pizza and wine on the patio when the kids go to bed or a weekly or monthly commitment to go out for an official dinner, is essential. It’s those special moments that remind you and your partner what sparked your love in the first place. You should both work hard to maintain that connection.
Blackham adds, “The best thing a mom can do for her children is take care of her own emotional health and, if possible, maintain a strong relationship with their dad. So often parents sacrifice their relationship with each other or their own emotional health for the perceived needs of the kids. Taking care of yourself is the hallmark of good parenting. This is not a justification for ignoring the needs of the kids to pursue her own outside agenda, but it does mean setting boundaries, not taking on more than she can handle and leaving the kids for date night once a week — even if the kids protest.”
Saying “good job” when they do anything (everything)
While parents have the best intentions when we encourage our kids, it can be a detriment to their developmental growth. Blackham explains, “Excessive amounts of praise can backfire. Genuine, authentic praise should be a part of every parent/child relationship. Instead of saying ‘good job,’ which can be ambiguous and trite, try making a comment about what you observe. ‘I see you used a lot of blue in this picture. Is that one of your favorite colors?’ It is still a positive comment that allows the child to feel validated and seen, but it also helps the child not complete every task waiting for praise and approval from their parent.”
Of course as parents we’re here to help our children. But if we help them with everything — or worse, do it for them — from tying their shoes to shouldering them across the monkey bars on the playground, we’re really inhibiting rather than helping them.
Blackham says, “When we help our kids with every task, we unintentionally communicate, ‘I’ll do that for you since you are not capable.’ The job of parent is to raise kids who eventually will not need them for these tasks. The only way to accomplish that is to give them a chance to try and fail when the consequences for failing are small. Self-confidence grows by allowing children to accomplish hard tasks with our encouragement and emotional support, not by doing it for them.”