We all have bad parenting habits we need to break. See if you can relate to these habits that are too easy to fall into—and how to avoid them.
I’ve said this so many times to myself. I know what I “should” be doing as a parent but I keep repeating the same habits I mean to break.
And while these won’t make or break me as a parent, they’re still annoyingly persistent, despite my best intentions.
Bad parenting habits we need to break
For you, maybe it’s those zillion times you relent and allow your kids that extra piece of candy. Or when you hop on the computer or phone when you should be playing with your kids. We all have our guilty moments when we realize we’re doing exactly what we told ourselves not to do.
If you can relate, you’re not alone. Rest assured you’re still a fantastic mom, regardless of the bad habits you tell yourself you’ll stop once and for all.
And don’t get too down on yourself. Below are my bad parenting habits I need to break, and how I plan to break them.
1. Not really listening to the kids
“Oh, wow…” “Uh-huh…” and “That’s so cool…” are some of the should-be-said-more-enigmatically phrases I tell my son. Thing is, I’m not paying attention to what he’s telling or showing me.
I always a good excuse: I was cooking, tending to his brothers, cleaning. Or his topic of conversation makes little sense to me (“The ocean water is this thick,” he might say. Huh?). And why does he keep interrupting a zillion times an hour?
Now I learned that, no matter how busy I get, it’s actually more effective to stop what I’m doing to look him in the eye and listen to what he’s saying. He’ll feel acknowledged, won’t repeat himself or tell me the same thing again a few minutes later.
2. Freaking out
Even though I scold my mom for reacting too quickly, one could say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Just today, I reacted when I saw my four-year-old plop down on his baby brother’s legs. An act you swear was like setting the house on fire based on my reaction.
Had I kept my mouth shut, my son wouldn’t have been in tears and assumed he had just committed the worst crime on earth.
It’s hard to control reactions, so now I work on lessening the dramatics. Yes, I’ll still shoot out of my chair and run for a rag when he spills a cup of water, but I’ll do so quietly and without comment.
3. Making requests instead of statements
We need to be careful about the questions we ask our kids because sometimes, they’re not supposed to be questions at all.
For instance, I find myself asking requests, like “We’re going to the grocery, okay?” or “Want to take a bath now?” Complete with the rising inflection at the end of the sentence!
I suppose I’m saying, “We’re going to the grocery. Do you understand?” But phrasing the necessary as a question invites his opinions when they don’t count.
Now I learned to simply state it as a fact: “We’re going the grocery,” or “It’s time to take a bath now.” I then save questions for when I can honor his answers, such as asking which shirt he prefers or what book he wants to read.
4. Not preparing the night before
Here’s another bad habit I’ve managed to mostly break: leaving tasks to the morning when I could prepare them the night before. As if mornings couldn’t get any cloudier, I now assemble my lunch, pack the pump and pick my clothes.
I could have done all these tasks the night before instead of the morning, half-awake.
Yes, we’re tired at night after a long day and want to cave in to procrastination. But we’ll be even more tired (and out of it) the next day.
Now I do as much as I can the night before when I’m alert, so that come morning, I have less tasks to do (especially as I’m trying to get out of the house by a certain time). And for those times I still procrastinate, I at least make a mental note of what I need to pack.
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5. Waking up at the same time as the kids
Yes, I consider the privilege of sleeping in a bad habit, but only because I hate when my husband and I are fumbling about in the morning while the kids need our help. We end up handing our four-year-old a banana while we feed the twins, hoping this buys us some times.
Now I know better. And apparently so does my body, as I seem to wake 30 minutes on my own before I rouse the kids from their room. During those 30 minutes, I wake myself up and make breakfast. Usually.
One of the healthiest realizations we parents can have is that we’re not perfect. We won’t ever be, and that’s actually okay. Looking back on your list of bad habits, you may find you still do the things you swore you wouldn’t.
But over time, we do our best and hope the good habits outweigh the bad. And if they don’t? Well… a late wake up time or a forgotten lunch never really hurt anyone.
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How about you? What bad parenting habits do you have a difficult time breaking?
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