How To Avoid 5 Common Parenting Pitfalls


Common Parenting Pitfalls + Emotion Coaching Solutions

As parents, we all want to raise happy, healthy, successful children, but there are times – like when we’re stressed, tired, or irritable – when our best intentions fly out the window and we parent in a way we regret.

Parenting hardly ever goes to plan. What are your parenting pitfalls?

Being a parent is hard. What are your parenting pitfalls?

Being a parent is hard work and it’s impossible to parent well 100% of the time, but how do you avoid repeatedly falling into the same parenting traps?

Emotion Coaching is a parenting framework that helps to guide positive parenting. Not only will it provide you will skills to avoid common parenting traps, it will also help you to nurture a close relationship with your child, and help you to help your child develop the skills they need to:

• Adaptively control their emotions during social interactions
• Deal with frustration and be able to wait to get what they want
• Keep distress from overwhelming their ability to think
• Exercise their emotional awareness to guide problem solving
• Be in control of how and when they express their feelings

Read on to see how Emotion Coaching can remedy common parenting pitfalls.

Pitfall #1: You Dismiss Or Minimise Your Child’s Feelings

Rather than stopping to consider how your child truly feels, you say things like – ‘you’ll be fine, stop being silly’ or ‘you’re ok, it’s not so scary’ – or you respond to your child’s distress with logic or advice. You inadvertently discount her feelings and brush off her requests because you don’t have time to give more attention, or because you think this approach will help your child to cope better. The problem with this approach is that when you tell your child to stop feeling what she’s feeling you teach her that her feelings are ‘wrong’ and that they don’t matter. If your frequently dismiss your child’s emotion, she may also learn to distrust her feelings in emotional situations.

Emotion Coaching Solution: See The World Through Your Child’s Eyes

When your child is distressed or misbehaving, before you react, step back and try to understand the situation from your child’s point of view so that you can better understand the feelings behind their behaviour. If you find stepping into your child’s shoes difficult, try to think of an adult equivalent. For example, if your child is upset that you’re forcing her to share her new toy, think about how you would feel if your partner forced you to share one of your most prized possessions.

Pitfall #2: You Set The Bar Beyond Your Child’s Reach

The expectations you set for your child will affect how he sees himself. You may want your child to follow in your footsteps and share the same successes you experienced as a child, or you may want to encourage your child to achieve in areas you wish you’d had more success in, but when you set expectations based on your wishes and not your child’s capabilities you run the risk of inadvertently adversely affecting his self-esteem.

Emotion Coaching Solution: Seek To Understand Your Child To Know Where To Set The Bar

When it comes to setting expectations for your child, ask yourself: “what expectations am I setting for my child in this moment? Why is this expectation so important to me? Is this expectation being driven by my child’s capabilities or my own wishes or unmet needs?” Try to understand your child’s unique personality, needs, and strengths so you can set your expectations at the correct level. Best outcomes occur when a parent’s expectations and perceptions of their child aligns with the way the child sees themselves and who they are.

Pitfall 3: You Dish Out Tough Consequences Which Make Things Worse

When you’re tired and stressed, you’re more prone to throwing out negative consequences in the hope of deterring misbehavior, but when you make misbehavior the focus of your attention you miss the opportunity to understand the emotion underlying poor behaviour, and your child misses out on learning to how to resolve their feelings more appropriately in the future. Sending your child to time-out for not compliance may be effective if your child’s non-compliance is deliberately oppositional, but if your child’s non-compliance is the result of hunger, anxiety, tiredness, or illness, not only will time-out not resolve the underlying cause of the misbehavior, it may actually escalate poor behaviour as your child becomes more and more frustrated at his or her needs being ignored.

Emotion Coaching Solution: Seek To Understand What Feelings Hide Behind Misbehaviour

When misbehaviour occurs, try to understand the situation at hand. Talk to your child about why they’re upset, validate their feelings, and then help them to find a better solution to their problem. This approach might feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re used to a more authoritarian approach to parenting, but it might help to remember that validating your child’s emotion is not the same thing as agreeing with or condoning misbehaviour. You can validate your child’s distress and uphold firm boundaries for behaviour (e.g. ‘I’m wondering if you’re feeling angry and frustrated because I’ve asked you to put your toy away and go to bed. It’s frustrating to have to stop something you’re enjoying, so I can understand why you feel that way, but it’s time for bed. Where would you like to put your toy so you remember to take it out again in the morning?’)

Pitfall #4: You Use Bribes To Motivate Positive Behaviour

Offering your child a bribe is one of the more pleasant ways to garner compliance, but relying on this trick too often can backfire. Without meaning to, you make your child reliant on external sources of motivation, affecting her ability to do things purely for the satisfaction or sense of achievement.

Emotion Coaching Solution: Strengthen Your Relationship So Your Approval Is What Your Child Seeks

Make the reward your attention and encourage your child to persevere for personal satisfaction. Instead of offering a treat, say something like: ‘I know homework can be tricky and time consuming, but think about how good it will feel to finish. I’m here to help you if you need it, and if you can finish your work in the next half an hour we’ll have some time to do an activity together’.

Pitfall 5: In Times Of Stress You Default To Extremes of Compliance Via Control Or Uninvolved Surrender

When you reach your threshold, you seek to reduce tension pronto. Maybe you yell at your kids to gain instant control and submission, or maybe you throw your hands up and give-in to your child’s demands to get an immediate sense of peace. Both methods are driven by your short term need for a release of tension, but after the release comes the guilt and regret.

Emotion Coaching Solution: Take The Middle Road

Know your triggers and when you feel yourself starting to tense, take a deep breath and find the middle road. Set limits, but set them in a way that also addresses your child’s need for connection and his need for help to regulate his emotions. For example, if your child starts to lose it in the car on the way home, resist the urge to scream at your child to be quiet and respond to his escalating distress by saying something like – ‘I can see you’re really frustrated and restless after a long day at school. We’re nearly home and once we’re there was can have a snack and you can play outside in the yard for a while. Right now though I need your help, I need you to calm down so I can drive as safely home as quickly as possible. Can you take a few deep breaths and count to 20 for me?’

For more information on the steps of Emotion Coaching, please see our blog: .
6 Steps to Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids


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