By Eric R. Shuey, M.S, BCBA, LBA
As a parent myself I have made many mistakes raising my two daughters. No one is perfect and no one has all the answers. Anyone who tells you they do, are ignorant or oblivious to their surroundings. The fortunate thing is most mistakes we make are small and easily corrected. My education combined with the last twenty years of experience working with children with disabilities has taught and enabled me to see many different parenting strategies. Some strategies work well and others do not.
One of the most significant mistakes we as parents is to not follow through on our directives or statements. To see if you do this, listen to the things you say to your children or ask a significant other or even your child. At times it is difficult to see and take note of your own behavior and words. Sometimes you have to trust others in your life to give you this important feedback. Parents often attempt to give their child the benefit of the doubt, giving them way too many opportunities to comply with the directive. Often directions are repeated over and over and when a child does not follow, generally there are no consequences.
Here is an example to help illustrate this point. A friend of the family was visiting with her preschool age child. She wanted her child to take medication. Of course her child refused. The mother attempted reasoning with the child. As adults we often see our kids as miniature adults. This is, in my own opinion, the second biggest mistake that parents make. After reasoning did not work, this parent used the promise of a reward should she take her medication. Again, this attempt did not work. She then turned to threats of punishment in hopes of getting her to take her medicine. In this case the parent repeatedly told her daughter that if she did not take her medication she would be packing up her clothes and they would head back home. Well as you might think this did not work either.