By Jeff Stephens
We often talk about things we should do with our kids, and they are many. The list is inexhaustible. In the same vein, are there habits parents need to refrain from that can be harmful to children in the short or long run. Jeff has some great ideas.
1. Stop sheltering them from all bad things in the world
Let’s face it, the world is a screwed up place. All the proof you need is found by simply watching the nightly news or browsing to a major news website. Nearly every story is about something bad happening. In some cases, the event is extreme. Particular examples that come to mind are the Sandy Hook massacre, the Batman theatre shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing. These events represent violent extremes that are difficult to understand and process. The days immediately following were filled with graphic reports and news footage documenting the gruesome injuries, the pain suffered by individuals involved, and the surreal details of what happened. In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, we also witnessed a live manhunt unrivaled in history.
During these events, many parents feel it’s best to not talk to their kids about what is going on. This approach of sticking your head in the sand and hoping everything just goes away should only be used by those parents with really young kids (probably under 7). If your kids are older and ask you about what’s going on, tell them. If you don’t, someone else will. There is no way you could expect to send your kid to school the days following events such as these and hope they avoid being exposed. You need to tell them there are bad people in the world that do things that we can’t explain.
While it is important to not shield them from the ways of the world, you should still exercise caution and limit the amount they consume.
2. Stop shoveling excessive coursework down their throats in, and before, elementary school
You’ll often run into those parents that find it necessary to drive excessive academics into their child’s head at a very early age. We’re all for a strong educational system and providing the optimal learning environment for our children but some parents tend to go overboard in a relentless pursuit to instill knowledge into their child or to show us the elite intelligence level of their offspring. Some parents will have their child doing Algebra, listening to Chopin, learning multiple languages, beginning to play the piano, and memorizing the periodic table all before kindergarten. This is not necessary and may actually hurt the kid in the long run. They have a lifetime of learning ahead of them. Don’t stunt their natural curiosity and exploration of the world by forcing them to attend classes or events you feel will make them a prodigy. Let your kids be kids. Let them go out, kick around in the dirt, play tag, wipe their nose on their sleeve, and enjoy just being a kid.
3. Stop letting them run rampant in the store while you shop
Do parents not watch TV cop shows? How easy is it for your kid to be snatched in an instant. Stop completely disregarding your child and letting them run free in the store. Beside the fact it is incredibly unsafe, it’s also extremely annoying to your fellow shoppers. We don’t want the burden of parenting your kid to fall upon us.
4. Stop forcing your kids to do something they may not want to do
There are parents out there that love to live vicariously through their kids. You’ll see this in various aspects in young people’s lives. You may run into it at a dance class, at your child’s soccer practice, or watching a kid lug around an instrument back and forth to school. These parents feel it necessary to force their kid to do an activity, often at a level that the child really doesn’t find interesting. You may see the parent have their kid out alone at the practice field running them through a series of drills and exercises. While this is not always an indicator of a problem and in fact many kids and parents know exactly how to pull this off, there are those parents that are out of control. You’ll see the kid running in oppressive heat around the field with zero enjoyment written clearly on their face. The parent is barking instructions and forcing the kid to repeat over and over.
Let your kids experiment and try different things that they like. Don’t force them to do an activity because you want them to or you feel they might get some benefit later. Those kids that are driven hard at a young age and forced to do something beyond their enjoyment often burn out by the time they hit their teens. Work with your kids to find what they are truly passionate for then embrace it. (Tweet That!) Don’t force it upon them and subsequently burn them out.
5. Stop doing their school projects for them
Parents, stop doing your kids homework and projects. They will never grow to be independent and successful learners if you do all the work for them. Let them experiment, struggle, and sometimes fail. They need to know what it’s like to be responsible for something and how to complete a task. How else will your kids experience the joy of accomplishment if they don’t appreciate what it takes to get there? (Tweet That!)
6. Stop letting them watch ridiculous TV shows
There are a lot of shows on TV that provide no value. A lot. Don’t let your child sit down and vegetate watching a marathon of Toddlers and Tiaras, the Kardashians, or Swamp People. You might as well get a chair, sit your child down, and point them at the wall. One particular danger is with Disney Channel shows. While they are not inherently bad, they do tend to run into each other and you really never know when one ends and another begins. Your child ultimately zones out in front of the TV waiting for “just one more episode” to end.
7. Stop fostering an environment that makes them fat
Just as there are worthless TV shows, there are also other things that provide no value. Soda is one of those things. You really could question how this concoction made it to the market in the first place. It provides no nutritional value and ultimately results in negative health effects.
At an even higher level, let’s just stop fostering an environment that makes our kids fat (Tweet That!). Stop buying boxes upon boxes of doughnuts, soda, and potato chips. Stop thinking McDonalds is a viable option for family dinner. Stop neglecting to feed your kids fruit and vegetables. You, as the parent and as the provider, control what comes into your house. Stop bringing in all the junk then wondering why your kid is packing on the pounds.
8. Stop allowing them to play video games all day
Everyone loves to play games. Most of us grew up in the blossoming gaming industry and have stories about all the fun we had playing Pac Man, Galaga, and Donkey Kong. Today’s kids are on a whole other level. Don’t let your kid sit around for days playing Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. Don’t let them constantly play Candy Crush as the world goes by. Gaming provides many benefits, but like anything, too much of a good thing can ultimately be bad for you.
9. Stop ignoring them
This is probably the most important thing to stop when it comes to your kids. Stop ignoring them. Kids want and need attention from their parents. You are there to provide guidance, love, and support as they learn their way in the world. Be there for them with whatever they need. Pay attention to what’s going on in their lives. Engage with them regularly and experience life with them. When you get home from work, don’t just sit down on the couch and watch TV, dismissing your kids with the wave of your hand. Don’t bury your head in your iPhone or computer while your kid plays in the background. Take the time to ask them what happened today and what is going on in their world. Spend some time playing with them instead of your gadgets. Your toys will always be there for you after the kids have fallen asleep.
Find out about their school, their interests, and their passions. Discuss events in the world, new innovations, and the brilliant advances in today’s world. Expose them to things they may have never thought about. Always be there for them. Not only will it benefit them, it will make your life so much more fulfilling.
Stopping something is usually difficult to do. You may be worried about the immediate ramifications without understanding the long-term benefits. However, as seen above, stopping these types of activities may ultimately enrich your children’s lives.
How do you compare? Are you doing some of the things listed above? Are you currently guilty of some of the above but working to do better? What else would you add to the list? What do you find the most challenging in trying to stop some of these behaviors with your children?
Jeff Stephens is a dad who runs “The Crazy Life” website.
Tags: Things you should stop doing with your kids
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Good to know. Thx
What do does parent think when they do child homework? its very bad. all a child needs is help
Noted. Thanks MIM.
Very educational piece
Pls I really love the advice ,what about kids watching Zworld channel
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