If you are a fan of TikTok, you’re well aware of this trend: Professionals with different areas of expertise weighing in and filming short videos describing the five things they would never do knowing what they know.
When experts weigh in, we’re so accustomed to hearing about what we should do, but considering what not to do can be just as helpful. Here’s mine:
I would never force my kids to apologize as a consequence of their behavior.
When parents observe their child engage in an undesired behavior such as hitting another child, their knee-jerk reaction is to insist the child apologizes. This is well intended, and I recognize the value in teaching our kids accountability. However, if your intent is to get your child to stop hitting, forcing them to apologize will not do it.
The child isn’t hitting because they’re bad or mean. Usually, children hit because they struggle with impulse control, or they want to change an outcome. For example, it’s time for your child to share a highly desired toy. Assuming this is challenging for your child, he may hit the other child in protest.
Instead, you’re better off trying to get ahead of the hitting and understand why they’re hitting in the first place. Once you know the “why” behind the behavior, you can get ahead of it. In the example above, we consider the child who doesn’t want to share his toy. Before the anticipated challenge (i.e., sharing the toy) you can discuss the expectations with the child ahead of time. For example you could say, “When it’s time to share your toy, I need you to stop playing and hand it to your friend. I know it will be hard, but we can’t use our hands to hurt him.”
When we force kids to say sorry, we devalue what it means to truly apologize. Saying sorry becomes meaningless, and they only do it because they have to. There are better ways to walk our kids through accountability and apologizing.
I would never feel afraid of making mistakes as a parent.
Being a parent is a blessing that I never take for granted. With that, we put an unreasonable expectation on ourselves: to make sure we do everything “right.” I work with many parents who second-guess every decision out of fear of getting it wrong. Parents always tell me, “I want to ensure I’m doing the right thing.”
The truth is you will have moments when you won’t do the right thing. Not because you’re not trying, but because you’re human and still growing yourself. We think once we become parents, we’re supposed to have all the answers and show up to every challenge equipped with the solution. But any parent can tell you that’s impossible.
Your job as a parent is to show up and do your best every single day. When you fall short, because you will, you own it. Showing our kids that we can be wrong is invaluable. You can use the opportunity to model accountability and practice repair. Being right is overrated. Being present — not perfect — should be the aim. This way, when your children struggle with the idea of getting it right, they will remember the value in trying anyway because there is always the opportunity to repair, learn and grow.
I would never save my kids from a challenge or struggle.
This is the hardest advice but the most important one. Most parents hope to raise resilient, confident and independent kids. The only way children gain confidence is through competence. This means we need to allow the struggle to happen. We have to trust that they have what it takes to get through it.
Instead of following your knee-jerk reaction to go in and save the day, hold space and guide them with love. Through various challenges kids develop independence and resilience. When we lighten the load, so to speak, we rob them of the opportunity to gain critical tools. Is it hard to watch your kids struggle? Absolutely! But it is also necessary.
I would never try to control the outcome.
I’m a big proponent of valuing the process more than the product. We live in a culture that places emphasis on the end result. In doing so, parents try to control the process, leading to the desired outcome. When we do this, we miss the lessons the process could show us.
For example, if your children play sports, you, the parent, do everything you can to ensure a great performance when it’s game time. When the performance isn’t as expected, we’re immediately frustrated. Our kids feel that frustration, and instead of reflecting and considering the process and lessons they can glean, they look to fix the outcome. By putting emphasis on the process, they acquire an internal dialogue and explore with curiosity. What worked? What didn’t? What was I saying to myself? What could I have tried but felt afraid to do? How can I trust myself and work through self-doubt?
When we teach ourselves and kids to consider the process, that’s where the magic lives. Because we detach from the desired outcome and instead practice being present. There is value in teaching hard work and leaving the rest to chance.
I would never parent from a rigid place.
Parenting comes with a number of different rules, mostly self-imposed, telling ourselves how we should parent or what good parenting is supposed to look like. The problem with these rules is that we become rigid in the way we parent. We forget that every context is different, and parenting is not black and white. What might have worked one day might not the next.
This is why parenting, while a true blessing, is also incredibly challenging. When we give ourselves permission to bend the rules, we tune into each situation and consider the totality of what’s happening. Instead of putting ourselves in a self-induced pressure cooker to parent the right way, we adopt something far more important: the art of letting go.
When we parent from a rigid place, we lose perspective and search for solutions through a narrow lens, influenced by the unconscious beliefs we hold onto about what it means to be a good parent. You and your children will be better served if you allow yourself to consider the context and bend the rules from time to time. Parenting more flexibly comes with less stress and more ease.
Overcoming your parenting blocks.
The five things I would never do as a parenting coach touch on commonly held beliefs I see parents abide by. There is value in staying present and tuning in to each moment and what it’s asking of you.
I work with many parents who place unrealistic expectations on themselves, leading to inevitable disappointment and feelings of inadequacy. We add pressure to ourselves in each moment, believing that we have to be perfect and do everything “right.”
This comes from a good place, and every parent who feels this way means well, but your children only ask that you show up. They’re not taking score and thinking about how well you did everything.
I help parents overcome what I call parenting blocks. These are the unhealthy patterns we find ourselves in when we don’t recognize the unconscious beliefs and expectations we hold onto about parenting. This is what I describe as our parenting story.
We need tools to recognize how this story impacts our parenting. When we discover our parenting story, we gain awareness of the beliefs and rules we’ve placed on ourselves. In most cases, the unrealistic expectations we aim for are not what it means to be a “good parent.” When we show up honest, whole and free, we allow ourselves to be present, purposeful parents. That’s the parent your kids want.
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