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Alecia Carroll is a Parenting Expert and content writer, Who loves to write articles based on Brief Research on Parenting and the Safety of Kids.
It is a challenging job to be a parent, as probably every parent out there can attest. Preparing for the responsibilities of being a parent is essential. There is no retiring from this job or even quitting it.
The way you parent your child directly correlates to their behavior. Children’s first teachers in the world are their parents and the environment. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to instill in them values, meaning, belongingness and responsibility. And you do that with more than just your words.
Imitating is one of the best forms of flattery. And it’s natural for children to want to be just like their parents. However, kids often observe things more than we realize, and they don’t have a filter. When you act up around kids, it will be incredibly difficult for you to repair the damage once one or two negative habits are embedded.
You may have heard that children mirror their parents, so whatever you install will also reflect on them. There are certain things that should never be displayed in front of children, whether they’re your own kids or some neighborhood friends. Therefore, it’s vital to pay attention to what you are doing around them.
Here are ten things you shouldn’t ever do in front of your kids.
Things You Shouldn’t Do In Front Of Your Kids
#1 Swearing and Fighting With Your Spouse
People are different, and so are their opinions. While you don’t have to always agree with your spouse, it doesn’t mean that you can start fighting about it.
The extent to which fighting affects children might surprise some of you. Researchers from the University of East Anglia found that children from families with mild to moderate family problems had smaller cerebellums than other children. An abnormal cerebellum is associated with psychiatric disorders.
Also, keep in mind children don’t just absorb words but also tune into the sentiment behind them. Therefore, when they experience similar emotions in the future, this will be the style they use to express and channel them.
Instead, be intentional about how you speak in front of your child. You can get your point across without shouting, foul language or curse words. If you feel yourself getting to the point of yelling, move it into a room where no one can hear you.
Not only will it help reduce anxiety and unhealthy emotional channels in your child, but it will also keep them from repeating what you said in a less than ideal moment.
#2 Lose Your Cool
Adventure is always on the horizon for children. When the parents aren’t around, children have been known to draw on walls and mess up the kitchen. Nevertheless, it requires patience on the part of parents to go through these adventures with their children.
The worst thing you can do is beginning yelling at your new artist. Teaching them right from wrong is well and good, but you must do so without frightening them or make them nervous about having fun. Crayons on the wall are an easy no. But it’s a fine and somewhat blurry line behind criticism and consequences.
Keep in mind that every child is unique, and every approach might not work for every child. Regardless, all parents must adhere to some parenting rules.
Your child needs direction, love and care, not fits of anger. You might be infuriated at the moment, but you don’t need to yell or even raise a hand at them. Each time you become agitated begin raging, your child will become more timid. Eventually, they will even shy away from talking to you about what’s going on in your world. Yikes!
Even though adults should know better, many adults still reach for a cigarette in the presence of children. Second-hand smoking can hurt anyone, but it will have more of an impact on your baby since they have underdeveloped airways and low immunity.
The passive smoking of infants can trigger SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndromes). But the risks don’t stop there. Other health issues like asthma, respiratory problems, ear infections, etc., can also be seen in children due to parents’ smoking.
#4 Coming Home Drunk
According to several studies, children who see their parents drinking alcohol are more likely to consider alcohol to be ‘good’ or ‘non-harmful behavior. They are also more likely to start drinking earlier. The children in this cohort also are twice as likely to ‘abuse’ alcohol and ‘binge on’ it.
We’re not saying you have to avoid drinking altogether when socializing. But if you have a child around, it is best to keep the bottle (and the glass) away. And don’t get carried away; one or two glasses are probably enough for most nights, and you don’t need to have them every night.
If you are hosting a special get-together and know that alcohol will be present, wait until your kiddo is asleep before busting it out. If it’s at someone else’s house, plan on hiring a sitter that night.
#5 Being Obsessed with Social Media
Millennials know a thing or two about technology. We’re surrounded by laptops, mobile phones, television sets and more. While there’s a place for some good time in front of a device, too much time can be damaging to your family.
Your child will become more withdrawn as you spend hours on devices, checking your WhatsApp or emails constantly. When your child is speaking to you, give them your full attention.
Plus, don’t forget that children emulate what their parents do. If they see you glued to your TV or mobile throughout the day, you cannot argue with them when they do the same. Instead, take a break from the screen and show your kiddos that observing nature and being outdoors is better than Netflix and Candy Crush Saga.
But the dangers go beyond just disconnected families. As the problem progresses, lifestyle problems such as myopia (short-sightedness), diabetes, obesity, and other issues begin to develop. It is scary, however, that excessive screen time can negatively affect your brain, too: it can reduce cortical thickness, make the brain less smart, cause gray matter atrophy, damage white matter, and cause dopamine release to increase in the wrong spots.
#6 Making Comparisons
One thing that parents should strictly avoid in front of their children is constantly comparing their kids to other kids like their siblings or friends.
Whether it be academics, sports, or extracurricular activities, every parent loves it when their children excel. Many parents, though, forget that having high expectations can be stressful for their children. Eventually, they will be disappointed if they do not follow through. And this breeds an unhealthy view of performance-driving love and perfectionism. Plus, when you constantly compare your children with others, it reduces their self-esteem. They start to have self-doubt about themselves, and it can have a detrimental impact on their performance. Your child may even feel anxious to perform activities that they are good at.
Instead, focus on what your child is good at. There are different abilities and characteristics in every child. Try praising them even in their small accomplishments.
Recognize the positive aspects of your child’s behavior without comparing it to others. Be appreciative of their positive traits. It is ineffective to constantly remind someone of their mistakes. Take them for who they are, rather than who you wish they were.
#7 Constant Lying
A parent’s responsibility is to keep their children safe and protected. Occasionally, your child may have questions. The answer to some questions may be simple, while others may be a little more complicated. Similarly, you may get asked a question you don’t have the answer to. Instead of making up stories, it’s best to simply tell them that you don’t know.
White lies may seem harmless, but they actually come with some dire consequences. Your child may view a potentially harmful situation as safe, or they may have a hard time trusting you when the truth finally comes out.
Also, as a child grows up, they learn to lie from their parents. No matter what type of lie you tell, a lie is a lie. Instead, teach your child to become honest and admit when you don’t know the answer. You may have fun trying to uncover it together!
#8 Complaining About Yourself
Many mothers feel like they aren’t doing enough for their babies at some point. A busy schedule and hormones are to blame, but it can affect their mental health if your child is exposed to your low self-esteem phase.
Your children pick up your emotions, so if you’re feeling bad about yourself, they might also feel that way about themselves. We all have those days where we are not at our best. But don’t badmouth yourself or start picking apart your every flaw in front of your kiddos when those days come. Instead, teach them they can love themselves just as they are by loving yourself just as you are.
And remember, a perfect parent doesn’t exist – but you are the perfect one for your child.
#9 Being Rude to Others
I think we can all agree that the world could use more empathy. And that starts with you as a parent. Children believe that ridiculing or taunting others is okay if they see their parents doing it. As a result, your child will become oblivious to the feelings of others and may become demanding, pushy, bossy and manipulative.
Instead of yelling at the person that cut you off, you could say, “Man, that person was in a hurry. I wonder what’s happening in their life right now.” Get into the practice of thinking out loud to help your child develop their thought life. Not only will you help your child step out of themselves and begin to think about others, but it will teach them to respect and care about others, too.
Your child may seem unaffected by an offhand comment or a bit of sarcasm about a family member or friend. However, they are like little sponges. Their emotional maturity doesn’t allow them to understand that you are not serious and just having a bad day.
Plus, your kiddo may repeat your words verbatim in front of the other person – imagine how embarrassing and damaging that would be to the relationship!
Being disrespectful to anyone, whether it is an elder or child, poor or rich, may have a boomerang effect on yourself in the future.
#10 Making Fun of Your Child In Front of Others
You may not think you’re making fun of your kiddo, but playfully teasing your child is a slippery slope into embarrassment and shame. If you tease your child or make fun of his naivety now, you may have some unfortunate consequences later on. Not only will your kiddo receive a traumatizing memory, but they may also suffer from self-esteem and confidence issues.
Your words as a parent become the voice that plays over and over in your child’s head. Mocking or ignoring your child when she expresses a negative emotion teaches her that she is wrong, should feel shame, and it minimizes her feelings. Instead, listen and validate what your child is feeling. The more open a conversation is, the more bonding will occur. Side note: Validating feelings is not the same thing as validating behaviors. Ex-It’s okay to be angry that it’s not your turn. I feel that way, too, when my turn is over. But you don’t get to hit other people when you are angry. And if you continue to hit, you will have to get out of line and go to time out.
This doesn’t mean that you have to accept all your children’s wishes without having your own input. But, it is imperative for these conversations to take place constructively, so your child can grasp what you mean without being worried about the things you may say in public.
#11 Saying One Thing & Doing Another
Parenting involves teaching children the right things: brushing their teeth in the morning and at bedtime, washing their hands when they return home, washing their own used plates and glasses after meals, and so on.
Educate your child on how to respect mother nature and not litter. Then, follow through with it.
You should not leave any paper or trash lying around. As long as you say one thing and do something different, then there is no value to your teaching, and your child may stop listening to you altogether. Plus, your kiddo may get confused and pick up the easiest thing that will make sense.
If you ask your child to do something, you must do it yourself. Showing them the importance of these habits through your actions is the most effective way for them to pick it up.
Things you should do in front of the children
Now that we’ve covered what not to do in front of kids, let’s talk about some of the things you do want to incorporate.
Be honest about money, death, sex, and other thorny issues. You don’t need to get into all the nitty-gritty details, but you can be honest in a way that is still appropriate with their age. Does that mean you need to talk to your first grader about the birds and bees? No. Use your common sense and be mindful about which topics are okay to bring up in front of little ears.
Teach Them To Handle Conflict
Debate in front of your children. This teaches them how to handle conflict when it comes up, like choosing where to eat or what to do. Dispute positively and compromise when needed. Make sure they do the same with their siblings/friends.
Teach Them About Privacy
Maintain body/privacy respect. Provide guidelines for closed and/or locked doors, closing bathroom doors when in use, etc.
Teach Them To Celebrate Others’ Differences
Demonstrate tolerance. Teach your children that every person is unique. They are going to come in contact with friends of different religions, ethnicities, living situations, etc. Take the time to discuss what makes your child unique and help them celebrate the differences in those around them.
There’s No Parenting Rule Book
It is an undeniably tough job to be a parent, and having your kids home 24/7 is particularly stressful during holidays when schools and daycares are closed. But no matter what’s happening in your life, it’s your job to instill good values in your children before they venture out into the world.
In theory, it sounds excellent to shield your child from all bad events and actions, but the truth is; life happens, and we can’t always control it.
You may find yourself losing your cool or reaching for a cigarette when you’re with your kids. Give yourself grace, and remember that no one is perfect. One of our favorite sayings here at ChatterSource is that it’s okay to fail but fail forward.
You might also be interested in: Understanding Child Development Stages [Parenting Guide]