Expert Author Susan Leigh
How many parents say that they are determined not the make the same mistakes with their own children that were made with them. Many of us have a horror of repeating those damaging behaviour patterns that we witnessed as a child in our own up-bringing.
- Favouritism. When one child is a golden child any siblings may feel unimportant and irrelevant. Nothing that they do will ever compare to the favourite child. Other siblings can become de-motivated living in that kind of environment. They may feel invisible or inferior. Children need attention and encouragement and when they are lacking they may well rebel and behave badly. They may feel that whatever they do makes no difference or that any attention is better than none. Or they may retreat into inertia and apathy, as there is no point in trying when no one seems to care.
- Excessive Strictness. Children appreciate fairness. They recognise if they have behaved badly and will usually respect fair punishment. If a parent is excessively harsh or cruel that will be deemed unfair and the child may well become bitter, angry or resentful as a result. These children can sometimes become bullies. They pass on the lack of control and unfairness of their own situations and try to dominate others to compensate for the frustration of their own domestic situation.
- Excessive Leniency. All children need boundaries. They make them feel safe, loved, cared for. Children are supposed to rebel, it is part of growing up and discovering their identity, but at the same time they value a framework of rules and order. So long as they are fair and consistent children will often appreciate them. Too much freedom and children may feel that their parents do not care, are too busy or are indifferent to what they are doing. Children will sometimes misbehave to see if they get a reaction from their parents. Any attention is better than none.
- Revealing too much. Children are often aware of the limits of what they want to know about grown ups. They want to know that things are safe and secure, that their world is protected. But they do not want to know too much personal information about their parents' lives. They do not want to be encouraged to take sides, pass opinions or listen to detail about arguments and disagreements. They do not want or need to know specifics about financial concerns. Children often worry a lot if they fear that things are going badly at home and often feel in some way responsible for the problems. It is unnecessary to include them in that much detail.
Raising children is often a minefield. What is good for one child may not work so well with another child. Having time with each child individually, getting to know them as people in their own right as well as sharing in a joint family arena is a positive way of building good relationships and open channels of communication with the children. It is a good way of allowing them to blossom as individuals as well as members of a strong family unit.