When we attend self-improvement seminars or read about it we are often told that most of our unwanted behaviour or attitudes actually come from our childhood. Furthermore, most of that childhood was under the influence of parents or those who played the roles of parents to us. Now, take that forward to the present day. Improving ourselves is one thing(a good thing) but if we are bringing up children ourselves, the process of doing that well as it is happening now has to go hand-in-hand with our own subjective transformation so that the right values are ingrained while these children are growing up with us. Only this will break the vicious cycle.

Bad Habits

What this boils down to is just to eliminate the patterns of behaviour from the child’s immediate environment(which is you) that in the long term won’t do them any good because like they say, a child eventually rehearses what it habitually sees, hears and feels. Some of the following trends of behaviour are not necessarily common across all social cultures but nevertheless need mention as they are universally applicable in terms of child psychology.

Father and ChildCredit: AndreÄ­ Osipovich Karelin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So here are ten things NOT to do to your child :

1. Do not publicly scold them(especially in a highly audible manner)

This will over time undermine children’s self-image as they are being put to shame in front of others. They are bound to grow timid and shy, losing self-esteem.

2. Do not compare between your children

Saying something like “your sister does not behave like you” or “your bro is better than you at this” does not fare well with children as they are all individuals with unique characteristics and abilities. Comparison is incomprehensible to them, confuses them and sets false standards

3.  Do not remain aloof when you see they are having a problem

Addressing their concern, however petty it may seem when they are in anguish over something prevents the child becoming cranky. Acting it up when they are constantly ignored is a child’s normal reaction to get attention but it leads to more of an emotional imbalance later on.

4.   Do not hit them in anger

This is not to say you can hit them when you are not angry but if you have developed the self-control never to hit them even when you are terribly upset, then it is highly likely that under more calm situations you will not be doing so. It just doesn’t work.

5.   Do not promise something and then not deliver upon it, rather be prudent

The child remembers. When you refuse or deny what you had earlier promised(maybe under a pressing circumstance) it frustrates them so, they develop this pocket of negative energy within themselves and hold on to it repressively sometimes for long periods of time. They eventually may express it negatively in a different form in unrelated events and it can hit you in a significantly bad way.

6.   Do not use harsh criticism

Much as a child may annoy you at times or fall below your “expectations”, never direct harsh criticism at them using sharp words that pierce the psyche. This is damaging, to say the least. There are far better modes of correction with words.

7.   Do not quarrel in front of them

An open heated argument with your spouse right in front of the children sends the wrong message to your child, i.e. that it is alright to just blast out your frustrations and vent your dissatisfaction without consideration for others. To keep it within the four walls of your own room(to the best of your ability) and help create the child’s perceived unity in the family means so much for the inner strength they develop.This is not creating a false atmosphere but showing things are always under control and that they are safe and secure and there is no sudden threat to their well-being.  

8.   Do not let them have or handle excessive amounts of cash for their age

This is somewhat subjective but prematurely allowing your under-aged child to just hold more money than he or she needs is not healthy.  This may not be common but happens a lot and inadvertently creates a lack of understanding and appreciation.

9.   Do not have unrealistically rigid expectations

This often ties in with expectations of a parent on the child’s performance whether in school or other things. Though encouraging a child to do better and showing the way to do it is recommended but setting specific targets with built-in expectations of a “must-meet or I’ll be disappointed with you” mentality is not. It is nothing but a way to ostracize the child within the family upon failure and this is not in the child’s best interest at all.

10.  Do not underestimate or belittle you child’s capabilities or communication

More an aspect of Eastern upbringing, this often results in the child not reaching its full or true potential in later years. So, give them a break and play alongside.

Creating Better and More Harmonious Generations

So parents, there you go. Children are the citizens of tomorrow’s earth. So just as we want a greener earth and energy conservation for our survival, we must look at our children and keep them “greener” and full of energy and enthusiasm to face the challenges of their time. They may even care for us better in our old age.