5 Common Parenting Errors and How To Be A Better Parent


Parenting Errors Tips Effective Parenting

I first met psychotherapist Liza Kramer when I was giving a workshop on therapist techniques. Very quickly, I saw signs that said to me, “This is someone who genuinely helps her clients.” Soon after, I saw that Liza also would be giving a workshop for therapists. Hers was entitled, “How to Be the Dumbest Person in the Room.” That title intrigued me.

This post shares what I learned subsequently from interviewing Liza. Happily, Liza’s techniques for therapy with teenagers can be equally effective when a mom or dad uses them as parenting techniques.

Related: Teen Proofing Your Child: 11 Tips For Parents

5 Parenting Errors and Tips for More Effective Parenting

Error #1: Make it clear to your teenagers that you are the boss. You know what’s best for them. (“Do what I say! Do it now!”)

Tip: Be the dumbest one in the room. 

Instead of telling your teen what to do, ask questions. Good questions generally begin with “How” or “What.” “How did you feel when …” “What do you think about … ?” “What might happen if instead of doing X you tried Y?” “What might be another option that would work better for you?”

Then, in response to the teenager’s answers, always start by agreeing. “Yes … I can see your point. It makes sense that …” or “I agree that …”

If in fact, you disagree, pause before you respond. Pause to give yourself time to think. Then start by responding with something you can agree with in what you heard. “Yes, it makes sense to me that you want to … because …”

Then beware. Be sure to add your alternative perspective with “… and at the same time …”

If you respond instead with but, you lose. Why? But deletes whatever came before. But replaces what your teenager said with your perspective. That’s the opposite of being “the dumbest person in the room.”

Error #2: Be on the lookout for all the problematic, dumb, and irritating actions teens do and then be sure to point them out. (“Look, you left your clothes all over the floor again!”)

Tip: Notice which eye you use when you look at your teenager. 

Are you using the bad eye, the eye that looks for what’s wrong with what your teen does? Or are you on the lookout with your good eye for what the teen does that is good? “I saw you helping your little brother today with his homework and I was so impressed with how patiently you explained the work to him.”

This good-eye strategy works because you’ll get more of whatever you focus on. Focus on the teens’ mistakes and you’ll get more of them. Use your good eye and focus on what you see — you’ll get more of the good.

What if your bad eye still keeps focusing on your teenager’s problematic behaviors? Initiate problem-solving instead of criticism. Start by asking questions. “What kind of system could you set up so your clothes go somewhere other than on the floor?”

If the teenager draws a blank, at that point you could venture some hypothetical solutions. “I wonder what might be different for you if you built a habit of undressing next to your closet so you could drop clothes into the laundry basket there as you take them off?”

Or even better, “I found this laundry basket today in the basement. How about if you put it in the far corner of your room, then use it like a basketball net to toss your clothes in instead of dropping them on the floor?”

Related: 25 Signs of A Controlling Parent And How To Cope With Them

Error #3: Put pressure on your teen to do or become this or that.

Tip: Own your dreams. Do unto yourself what you are asking your teenager to do or become.

“When I was your age, I was very worried about getting into a good college, so I made a priority of studying. It paid off for me. I loved the college I went to, and that degree led to unbelievable career alternatives.”

Or, “When I see you turning in homework assignments late, and sometimes not at all, I get scared. I used to do that. As a result, I didn’t get strong teacher recommendations and then didn’t get into any of the colleges that were my top choices.

That’s why I encourage you to develop good homework habits. I want to help you to learn from my mistakes. I’m still learning from them. I try, for instance, to be sure at work that when I take on an assignment or tell someone I will do something, that I do it and ASAP …”

parenting errors
Parenting errors

Error #4. Berate your teenager for the foolish, irresponsible, and other problematic things s/he has done. Add negative labeling like “dumb” or “stupid.” Top it off with punishment—take away the phone, weekend privileges, etc.

Tip: Mistakes are for learning.

When your teen messes up, skip the criticism, anger, and punishment. Stay away especially from any negative labeling, Instead, remind yourself and also your teen, again and again, that mistakes are for learning.

“Alas, Julie, that was a big mistake. I guess that mistake means you are human. All humans make mistakes. What’s important is to remember that mistakes are for learning. What have you learned from that one? What could you do differently in the future?”

Related: 10 Simple Steps to Stop Toxic Parenting

Error #5: You keep telling your teenager “No” or “Don’t do that.” (“Don’t make so much noise. Don’t tease your brother. You can’t do that. You are not allowed to do that. You shouldn’t …”)

Tip: Replace no’s and don’ts with requests. Or engage in shared problem-solving.

“I’m trying to take a nap. Could you play outside instead of playing the music so loud in your room? Or use your earphones?”

Or, “I see that you are hurting your brother’s feelings by teasing him. How come you have been teasing him lately? If you look at it in the best possible light, what has it been meant to accomplish? [Best possible light is a technique you can use for all kinds of bad behavior.] Maybe you can find a better way to accomplish what teasing has been meant to do, a way that works better for both of you.”

How would you have reacted if your parents had used these techniques with you when you were a teenager?

No doubt, minimizing the power plays and maximizing the respectful talking together do make for a positive parent-teen relationship. At the same time, while scripts of “ways to talk” can be helpful, parents also sometimes find that a less skillful dialogue with their teen, while riskier, occasionally still can be effective.

Teens have a way of sniffing out “parenting techniques” that don’t feel real or genuine. Occasionally handling a situation in a heartfelt yet messy and all-too-imperfect way can give room for kids to also be ok with sometimes getting it so very wrong. Just be sure afterward to apologize to your teen. Mistakes are for learning.

Maybe you were fortunate enough to have had parents who used these positive ways of nurturing, shaping, and encouraging a teenager toward habits that prepare kids for success in their adult lives. If so, great; these techniques will feel natural and easy for you. If not—now is an ideal time to learn.

Related: 8 Helpful Strategies for Dealing With Your Teenager

For more skills for keeping all of your family connections warm, loving, and strong, check out my Power of Two bookworkbook, and interactive website.

Written By Susan Heitler 
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today
Parenting Errors Tips Effective Parenting pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

How To Protect Children From Cyberbullying: 10 Effective Tips For Parents

Protect Children From Cyberbullying: Learn Helpful Tips!

To guard children against cyberbullying and the harm it does to our kids, we need knowledge and tools. All parents, teachers, and community members need to learn how to protect children from cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying entails using electronic means to mistreat or intimidate others; its effects on the mental health of those who fall victim cannot be underestimated as well as their emotional and physical existences.

My aim in writing this post is that readers should gain a comprehensive understanding of cyberbullying: what it involves; how it affects children; and most importantly what parents can do to protect children from cyberbullying.

What Is Cyberbullying? 

The term “

Up Next

Father’s Day Quiz – Which TV Dad Are You Most Like?

Which TV Dad Are You? Fun Quiz For Happy Father's Day

Have you ever thought about which TV dad are you most like? Fathers come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, each bringing their own unique style of parenting and memorable moments – even those that happen onscreen.

These dads can be hilarious or strict or wise or downright goofy; often becoming iconic characters we can’t help but love. So let’s get into it!

Related: The Ultimate Father’s Day Quiz: What Kind Of Dad Are You?

Which TV Dad Are You?

Up Next

10 Creative Father’s Day Activities For Your Entire Family To Make Memories

Creative Father's Day Activities for the Whole Family

Father’s Day is just around the corner and if you are like me who tends to run out of ideas for celebration then you are reading the perfect handbook. Below are some of the best ideas for Father’s Day activities to create lasting memories.

The best Father’s Day activity is when you get to celebrate it with your whole family. It can be a simple meal, a day at the park, or even karaoke at home. So let’s find which activity fits your fam the best! and enjoy a delightful time together.

Importance of Spending Quality Time with Family on Father’s Day

Up Next

4 Zodiac Signs Who Make The Best Dads — Father Goals!

Zodiac Signs Who Make The Best Dads Fun Zodiacs

To have fun while raising kids, you need to be patient and dedicated. Most fathers are not given enough credit for what they do for their children. Each father is unique, and below are 4 zodiac signs who make the best dads because they seem more naturally suited for it.

These particular zodiac sign dads excel as nurturers, defenders, and supporters of their children – standing out from other men in this role by doing so consistently well.

Therefore this Father’s Day 2024 we will look into 4 of the greatest zodiac signs as fathers.

Related: The Ultimate Father�

Up Next

3 Crucial Reasons Why Being A Role Model Parent Is Important For Your Child!

Helpful Ways Being a Role Model Parent Benefits Your Child

As someone who serves as a role model parent, I believe my purpose is to direct and motivate my children but also society as a whole. Authenticity, empathy, and uprightness create room for future generations with strong wills toward others’ feelings.

Today’s ideal parenting should therefore be viewed in light of what it means for tomorrow. It is necessitated by our children that we become such parents so that they might teach love, kindness and toughness to many generations yet unborn.

Therefore, let us make this jour

Up Next

10 Engaging Activities for Children that Promote Parent-Child Bonding!

Engaging Activities for Children That Will Them Develop!

Children can be difficult to reach in today’s world, but the fact that moments like these are invaluable remains true; they build the basis for lifelong connections. 

Therefore, we have devised ten engaging activities for children which not only entertain them but also foster closer relationships between mothers/fathers and their babies. 

Hence, if you’re looking for new ways of investing more into your relationship with children or simply deepening what you already share then try these out because not only will they provide lots more amazing memories but also…

10 Engaging Activities For Children

It is not only about creating memories but also creates deep b

Up Next

10 Essential Positive Discipline Techniques Every Parent Needs!

Positive Discipline Techniques for Parents You Must Know!

Parenting is one of the most fulfilling but challenging roles in life and coming up with effective ways to control children can be a process of trial and error. 

Positive discipline extends the perspectives on parenting a child that are built around empathy, respect and comprehension about children’s behavior.

Positive discipline does not encourage punitive measures or autocratic approaches; instead, it trains children as well as empowering them towards sound decision-making in order to foster strong parent-child relationships.

This post introduces positive discipline and discusses some concepts behind it including practical steps which can be done by parents in their daily activities. 

Let’s explore how transformative the positive discipl