Educating a child is much more than following him or her in their studies, it is about fostering their sense of responsibility, self-esteem and autonomy. It’s often said that no one teaches parenting. This is true, especially because every child is different and the recipes are useless. However, knowing the most common mistakes in raising children helps us to make fewer.
Sometimes it is precisely the fear of making mistakes that makes us make mistakes: the pressure of our social environment can be very strong. We propose, then, that you change your perspective: accept an intermediate position between doing everything right and not doing everything wrong. To do so, we must identify and correct our mistakes. The pupil who is never asked to do what he cannot, will never do everything he can.
Mistakes in raising children
- Pretending they will become geniuses at school
The need to provide our children with the tools to face the future, and the hope that this will be wonderful, leads us to wish they would become geniuses, even though the price to pay may be very high. This desire drives many parents to over-stimulate their children from an early age, crowding their days of activity or proposing one goal after another.
Wanting the child to be first in the class pushes us to have little patience at the first difficulties or failures at school. We forget that education is a long-term process and that learning is made of trial and error, and a lot of patience. Furthermore, we forget that self-esteem plays a fundamental role in school achievement.
The report in their essay research data that 82% of children starting primary school are very confident in their learning ability. This percentage, however, drops to 18% around the age of 16 and still a little bit when entering university. We must bear in mind that the education of children is a long-term path, in which patience is essential.
The risk is the loss of self-esteem and motivation… On the other hand, demanding too much from a child drastically affects his self-esteem. Not being able to meet the demands of parents – with the tendency to project this belief into adulthood – is at the root of many problems. The risk is to demotivate him.
- Making the study the sole focus of interest is one of the mistakes in raising children
When we put study at the center of family life, we are giving our children a strong message. They may think that we are not interested in their emotional life, their more personal dimension. One of the mistakes in educating children is to inquire only about what they have done in school, what grades they have taken, what homework they have to do. Other contexts or their emotions don’t seem to matter.
Some parents go so far as not to ask for help at home or not to assign any responsibility to them, understanding study as their only task. They focus on this aspect while neglecting everyone else, such as making friends, acquiring skills, becoming responsible, developing tastes or nurturing dreams. To focus solely on study is an educational mistake. It means that we are ignoring other important aspects, such as a sense of responsibility.
- Rewarding and punishing for a school grade
The reaction to school grades is a very important issue: reward when they are high, punish when they are low. The problem is twofold. On the one hand, we are neglecting external and internal factors that affect concentration, performance or attention. On the other hand, if we continuously provide a reward, the motivation of the child is lost.
The strongest stimulus comes from discovering new things and developing one’s own interests. If a material stimulus is needed, something is not working. Even warned us about the dangers of materialism, the obsession with objects and the risk of turning children into little capitalists.
The best we can do is to praise good results with phrases like I am very proud of you or you must be very proud of your efforts and achievements. When the grades are bad, instead, try to analyze together what happened, so as to correct the mistake.
Maybe your children can’t concentrate, don’t understand the subject or might need an extra boost, like a cycle of private lessons. In this case the message should be how can I help you get better?.
- Studying and doing homework with the child
A lot of parents think they have to study and do their kids’ homework. This is a habit that can be reflected in present and future life. Depending on how we do it, we may become addicted. In the long run, you may find it very difficult to cope with any compulsory schooling without the help of parents.
In addition, incorrect help with homework can lead to conflict and discussion. Parents, although they are the main educators, do not always have the best tools to support the child in all subjects. Let them make mistakes and let the teachers correct them. Homework can be an excellent educational tool to stimulate autonomy.
- Failure to respect the school’s approach to errors in the education of children
Another aspect, no less important, is that we tend to constantly criticise the approach taken by the school. Too much homework or too little, too much effort required… If we choose a school, we should accept its approach; when we criticise it, we send the child a mixed message.
It is true that in Italy, according to statistics, more hours of homework are done per week than the average in other countries of the world. But this depends on the school and the characteristics of the child, among other things. It is a fact to accept: in this way, we will give a good example to our children. From a certain age, we leave them the initiative to solve school difficulties.
There is no correct formula to help them with their tasks, only guidelines. We have found that over two hours of leisure time on the screens are associated with worse cognitive development in children. Idle hours should therefore be occupied by play, free and chosen by the child.
As for the study, we should be flexible, patient, listen to our children and put ourselves in their shoes. So let’s not focus on studies alone. Neglecting other aspects of their lives means undermining the relationship, ceasing to be parents and becoming teachers or tutors of our children.
Children’s education, then?
Let them get bored, make mistakes, get some bad grades so they can learn from their mistakes. In other words, let’s encourage them to be autonomous. This makes them strong and gives them a point of reference for the future. And that is the best education we can offer our children.