Being a parent is hard work. A Mom or Dad does not want to come across as a pushover, but neither do they want to seem soft and get taken advantage of. Kids sense weakness and exhaustion, and will play off it. All kids. This is unfortunately true for all ages and stages - whether a baby or toddler, and throughout childhood. But parents want to raise loving and resilient kids. What are they to do to get the formula right? Well, first of all they need to learn to trust their instincts as parents. After all, they know their kids best. The next thing they need to do is find the formula that works for their particular child and family situation. Does the child need more time to complete a task? Are they getting enough sleep? Are they scared about something? A Mom or Dad will know when they start to pay attention to the particular signs.
A lot of times parents get frustrated and busy with life which involves parenting, work, running a home, and trying to have enough energy left to have some personal downtime for themselves and their partner. It’s easy to lose their cool, but in the end everyone will suffer if Mom and Dad don’t learn to let loose and pick their battles. After all, in spite of what it looks like, no one wants to fight and get stressed, kids or adults. What are some of the signs parents are being too strict? Here are 15 of them:
15Put Kids In Time Outs For A Long Time
Time outs or places kids can go to calm down are notoriously good strategies to use to help teach kids how to calm down naturally, and to help them learn more independent ways of self-soothing and regulating. It's excellent when parents use this type of calming strategy, too. A Mom could say she is going to her calm corner to do some deep breathing or to do yoga or stretching. But when a parent tries to force kids to go to a timeout corner for a long time, even if they call the corner a calm corner or tell the child to calm down, it will not serve its purpose. Actually, the exact opposite thing will happen and it will cause the child to not want to go anywhere to calm down. A parent cannot force a child to go somewhere. It may work briefly when they are toddlers, but as they get older, it can backfire.
14Yell At Them For Every Little Thing
Parents will be at this stage when frustration and stress have hit their peak. Perhaps lately it seems the child is acting out more than listening. Maybe the parents have been dealing with lots of work or life stress lately, too. This all adds up and more frustration comes out from parents which leads kids to defend themselves by either lashing out in anger or retreating in passive aggressive ways. Parents have to ask themselves if their child is really doing everything wrong, and really not listening all the time? They need to catch them being good. Most kids, whatever their age, do many good things throughout the day. When the parents will start commenting and praising that, it will remind them that kids are always good, and do exhibit good behavior even on challenging days. It will also help kids of all ages see that Mom and Dad love them and know they are doing their best. This will help them continue to strive to do their best.
13Kids Get Scared As Soon As Mom Raises Her Voice
Again, this is a scenario where lately parents may have been yelling more than is necessary for everyone’s sake. We all tend to get stuck in patterns which are not healthy. We don’t mean to repeat them, but unless we start to consciously notice when we are continuing a negative behavior or a reaction to a behavior, what will happen is that we will be triggered as parents and respond in a more strict and angry way. This in turn will trigger the child, and no one will win. Parents have to remember it is not a power struggle of winning versus losing. Of course, parents are in charge and have to make that clear to the child whatever the age. But everyone wins when there are boundaries and rules for the child to follow. Parents have to find a way to do that so kids want to please, and they will see how much happier everyone will be.
12Child Lies A Lot
Children who lie a lot are usually under a lot of stress. Many times they find it hard to please, and a lot of times they come from very authoritative families where parents have super high expectations. There is nothing wrong with having high standards of behavior and certain expectations for a child. Kids will usually rise to the challenge. But if they always feel nothing they do is good enough and worry constantly about being in trouble, they may start to lie a lot to avoid punishment and to appear to be “good” to their parents. They may not think they are good, but they have to be reminded that all of us are good, only that we sometimes make bad choices instead of good choices. Parents can start paying more attention to their language and rules and see if this helps decrease the episodes of lying. If they notice a decrease, then they could start praising the good behavior.
11Kids Challenge Parents By Acting Out
It sounds counterproductive, but fear and anxiety will often bring out aggression in all of us. Children are no exception to this rule. If they feel alarmed and have no helpful ways of self-regulating when triggered by the adult's anger around them, many little ones will lash out with verbally aggressive words or physical aggression. Neither of these responses should ever be tolerated, and although it is extremely difficult in the moment, parents need to stay calm, keep their voice level, and not scream or hit the child back. Sometimes our reflex as human beings in defending ourselves is to lash out, but it's important to model calm and hold it together in front of our child. We, after all, are the adult. If a parent forgets this, there is always time after to apologize to the child and turn it into a learning experience for everyone. Once the child knows the parent is really hearing them, it becomes easier for them to use words and stay calmer when they are frustrated. Parents need to loosen up.
10They Are Always In Education Mode
Using time with the child as “teachable” moments is good. And though it's true that everything the child does is educating them for the future, if all the parent does is make everything about learning and getting a skill, kids can end up feeling stressed and not enjoy themselves. This can lead to kids not wanting to explore and do anything with anyone. They may just retreat and stay alone where they feel they can get a break and away from the ever persistent “learning” parent. There has to be a gentle in-between with fun and learning, or none of us would want to do anything. We have to learn to see the fun in things again for pleasure's sake, and when our child is enjoying what they are doing and who they are with, it won’t feel like work and everyone will benefit from this type of scenario.
9Don’t Praise The Effort Only The End Result
It's hard sometimes when all a child has been doing is disobeying, or so it seems. But a parent has to also look back and see, have they perhaps been a little harder on the child when they did not mean to be? Have they forgotten to acknowledge the good things the child has done. For example, if a child was trying to be more independent with dressing, but couldn’t quite master doing the zipper or buttons, did the parent get mad that it was not done perfectly? A better way would be to praise the effort that the child took in attempting to be independent. This is the same for any task. Parents need to praise the effort taken, not just the end result. This works for all of us. Who wants to please the perfectionist? After a while we would all get defensive and stop trying.
8Giving Over The Top Consequences
When a parent overreacts to behavior by putting in an exaggerated consequence, this spells disaster for parents and children. For example, a child who is not going to wash up for dinner and is still glued watching their favorite cartoon, is told that if they don’t turn the television or tablet off they won’t be watching that show for a month. This is a little over the top! Parents need to put appropriate consequences for each action in place, but it must be something that fits the bill. Not washing up when told to, means no favorite show the next evening before dinner. This way the child learns that they need to listen when Mom says to stop what they are doing and come eat. They are warned of this consequence happening and then get to choose to listen and get their show again, or lose out due to not listening. Natural consequences are logical like this and easier for the child to grasp, too.
7Kids Want To Stay Over At Grandparents
Why have children notoriously loved grandparents more than parents? They are more lenient and they let them get away with things more. We all know that. However, all jokes aside, grandparents do put down rules in their home, but usually kids have no trouble following rules in the grandparents' house. Why is this? Well, grandparents have effective and loving boundaries, and often show the child so much love and attention, that even though there are rules to follow, kids don’t notice. They just feel the love and attention. Parents, too, can find this balance of love and disciple seamlessly if they are conscious about how they show love, respect, and warmth to their child, and how they model wanting this in return. Respect and love are mutual things. If parents want it, they need to show it, and kids of all ages will feel a parent’s heart is in and not out. That's why if Mom or Dad need a kid break, it’s better to go off and recharge so when they come back, they can give their child that balance of love and boudaries which every child needs.
6Making Too Many Rules
Parents that have a difficult time letting go of conventions and different ways of doing this will struggle a lot with their children no matter what the character. Yes, parents need to have rules in place on how the family does things. But if the child is never allowed to experiment with his/her own creative ways of doing the same task, especially if it is something that can be done in a different way, this will eventually cause a lot of friction in the household. It’s all about balance, and the child feeling that they have some sort of power. Also, letting them figure out how to do things for themselves builds resilience, tolerance instead of frustration, and patience while other people sit and watch what is being done. They learn about the power of waiting for results too, which will help them in all areas of their life as they get older.
5Constantly Giving Out Orders
“Sit up straight.” “Wipe your mouth.” “Move faster.” Etc. If this is all the child hears from a parent all day and all night, they will grow to resent it and tune the parent out. Think about it. We would do the same to a family member, friend or co-worker, even a boss. If we feel that we are always being judged and ordered around, it will be hard to want to be with that person who never seems to be satisfied with how we do things. This kind of reaction provokes a lot of stress and eventually, a relationship like this will not survive and grow close. This is a terrible way for a parent-child relationship to start out. Instead, when done right, a parent-child relationship is one of the warmest and strongest we will ever know. It’s just a matter of getting the language right, and making both parties feel heard and appreciated.
4Child Stops Talking To You
This often happens when the child feels there is no pleasing their parent. This is when they detach. It could happen as a toddler, young child, or preteen. This is the kiss of death for a parent-child relationship, and if a parent sees this happening, the only thing they could do is slowly start recognizing the toxic pattern they have of talking and behaving towards the child. With small changes every day, they can reverse the negative patterns, but they need to start making those changes and showing the child no matter what, he/she is the most important thing in the world to the parent. As the child begins to slowly trust the parent again, play and laughter along with clear and stable boundaries need to be enforced. The child needs to know what is allowed, what is not, and that the parent will always give the child a chance to succeed, but they have to choose it.
3Parents Have Lost The Desire To Be Silly
Yes, there is a time and place for work and for play, but if as a parent a Mom or Dad have lost the art of being silly with their child and is tired all the time, this will not be good for the parent-child relationship. Rules are important for all of us. Safety always comes first. But if a child wants to be silly and wild sometimes, and there is no rush to go anywhere or do anything at that time, parents need to learn to let go of their own expectations about what is “proper” behavior and let the child be silly. Better yet, if Mom or Dad can get down and play silly games with the child it would make for even more fun. If parents find they cannot do this and feel annoyed at the thought even, that is when they need to take a step back and remember a time in their life when they had fun. Slowly, as they let go of what they think the child should play, they will probably find it fun to watch, then join their child in silly play.
2Being Highly Critical Of Other Parents
Many overly strict parents are not very tolerant of anything outside of their own way of raising a child. These parents generally have issues with how other family members raise their children, how teachers run a classroom, and how their friends raise their own children. With parenting, there is no one right way to parent, just like there are no two children who are exactly alike. As long as Mom and Dad show love, provide protection and the basic necessities, their children will most likely flourish into healthy, happy human beings. It's also good for kids to be exposed to friends who have been or are being raised differently than they are, just as it is good that they are exposed to different cultures, religions, and types of food. Parents don’t mean to judge or become cynical. They are just trying hard to have rules to make it easier for their families. But this is where showing one’s child that there are different ways of doing things can help broaden their perspective. As long as the child knows the rules in their family, it's great to see how other people make choices.
1Kids Have No Downtime
Many times parents who put children in a lot of activities have good intentions. They want the child to learn, make friends, and keep busy. They may also want a little break and to meet other Moms and Dads. But if a child is over scheduled and rushed all the time, this will cause anxiety, frustration, and low tolerance for stress. They will naturally tire out. Also, a child who is allowed down time to explore their surroundings in an unstructured way will develop creativity, inventiveness and the ability to play alone and entertain themselves and others. The greatest inventors and artists of our time were left alone to play in woods, around their home, and that is where they got many of their best ideas. Parents need to loosen up and give their child, no matter what age, a little bit of downtime as well as scheduled time for theirs and their child’s mental health.
So there they are, 15 signs parents are being too strict with their kids. All parents have been there, and it's normal that sometimes they overreact when under stress. Hopefully having a guideline of overly strict behavior will help most parents find a middle ground where the whole family will be happier, healthier and more loving.
Sources: WebMd, VeryWell
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