There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but we can always collectively do a better job. One way in which we can do that is by being clear in our intentions with our kids, so as not to confuse them.
Think about how confusing the world is to a child. The entire world is brand new to them, their little minds are beginning to develop, and they look to us to understand all of the chaos. Unfortunately, because we are flawed, sometimes, we give the wrong information and send confusing messages to our kids, making the world that much harder to navigate.
We may say that we want strong-minded kids, but at the end of the day, our actions can send an entirely different message. Below, I’ve listed 9 mixed signals we send our kids. If you find that you are participating in this type of confusion, it might be best to reassess things.
1. You can tell me anything, but not that.
When your kids come to you with something you may not want to hear, it might be hard to not fight off the fact that it’s not something you want to hear. However, when you say “you can come to me with anything,” it shouldn’t be a conditional statement.
2. You’ve had too much screen time. (Says while staring at the phone for the third hour in a row.)
Kids do as they see, not as they do. You can tell them all day long that too much t.v or tablet time is bad for them, but you send an entirely different message when you sit there scrolling on your phone, with no limits.
3. You can always come to me any time. But not now.
There again, when you say the word *any* you need to mean it. Kids take things quite literally. And honestly, you need to make time for your child when they need you, that’s parenting 101.
4. I can take a day off, but you can’t.
As adults, we take sick days, we take vacation days, we take ‘mental health days,’ and sometimes, we lay on the couch because we hate the world. But, when our kids wake up and decide they need an off day, we flip out.
5. My feelings are important, yours are trivial.
When your child comes to you, you might quickly assume that they are upset over something silly again. But, while it may be silly to you that her favorite barbie is missing, it’s not to her. It matters. To her, it might be silly that you are crying about paying bills, or whatever the case may be. Remember, have some empathy.
6. You have to share your things, but I don’t.
We are told to make our kids share from the time they are around 2 or 3. Yet, when our brother comes over for the 7th time this week to ask to borrow our car, we get upset. Do you see where the message comes through a bit unclear?
7. You must finish your plate, but I won’t because I’m saving room for dessert.
First and foremost, forcing kids to finish their plate is completely bad for them. It teaches them to ignore their hunger and fullness cues and destroys their body’s intuitive relationship with food. Then, while expecting them to finish their plate, we stow half of ours away for later to save room for Ben and Jerry’s.
8. Stop what you are doing when I talk to you! (But I won’t when you talk to me.)
When your child is busy playing, and you are trying to talk to them, it can be frustrating. On the same coin, they get frustrated when they need us and we don’t stop to talk to them. Respect is respect, no matter what your size. So adjust your expectations a little and remember, they are humans.
9. It’s okay to make mistakes…..Oh my god, what is this all over the floor????
On one hand, we may say, “Mistakes are perfectly fine,” yet on another, we say, “can’t you stop being so clumsy, now you’ve gotten coke all over mommy’s new dress!” Kids make mistakes. Keep that in mind.