I will admit, I haven’t been parenting for very long, but I have learned some valuable lessons over the last 3 years. Before I had a child, I was convinced I would be a mother who ruled lovingly, but with an iron fist. What I say goes. To a certain extent, I do parent that way, but there are some things, I’ve learned, it’s just not okay or healthy to force your child to do. Even if you think the result might be advantageous, take my advice: don’t ever force your kid to do these things.
1. Lie. Because lying is wrong, obviously. But also because if your kid thinks you think it’s okay to lie to other people, that will definitely backfire on you at some point. And yup, your kid will have had so much practice at lying, you won’t even know he/she is lying to you.
2. Eat when they say they’re not hungry. I know the doc says they need 3 square meals a day or 5 smaller meals plus some snacks, but really, every kid is different. And our bodies are designed to alert us when we need something to eat or drink. Also, think about it: have you ever met a child who didn’t make it loud and clear when he/she was hungry? Exactly. Don’t force your kid to eat when he/she isn’t hungry or the consequences could mean long-lasting food issues.
3. Be someone they’re not. If your kid is shy, embrace his/her shyness. Don’t force her to be this outgoing socialite if all she really wants to do is play with her one best friend. Same goes for the loud, rambunctious kid. Sure, he might be a lot to keep up with, but it’s important that kids feel loved for who they are, not who their parents are forcing them to be.
4. Apologize when they have no idea what they did wrong. I see this all the time at the playground. “Go say sorry!” some parent will bark. The kid will oblige, but you can tell he has no idea why he’s saying sorry. So before you order an apology, take a second to explain what your kid should be sorry for.
5. Say hello when stranger waves at them. Maybe it’s related to my paranoia, but I’ve taught my daughter to ignore strangers on the street or on the bus and subway who wave at her. That whole “don’t talk to strangers rule” definitely still applies in my household, so whether or not my daughter is with me, I don’t want her letting her guard down to someone she doesn’t know.
6. Sleep in their own bed before they’re ready. Again, I have a personal bias here, but I genuinely believe kids will naturally decide when they’re ready to make certain changes, and yes that includes sleeping in their own bed. I let my daughter decide when she was ready to give up her bottles, when she was ready to start using the potty, and I plan to do the same with letting her decide when she’s ready for her own bed.
7. Have a playdate with a kid who is a bully. Even if you are BFF with said kid’s mom. Don’t subject your kid to having his toys stolen or her hair pulled just because you want to get in good with the problem child’s mom. Invite her to lunch and leave your poor kid out of it.
8. Go on a diet. I know there are kids who need to lose weight, but I don’t think you should ever put your kid on a diet. You control what your child eats, so you should make smarter buying decisions in the grocery store. If there aren’t a cabinet-full of twinkies and ho-hos for your kid to eat, but the fridge is stocked with fruits and veggies, you’ll never have to put your little one on a diet.
9. Do something they’re just not good at. I’m not encouraging you to raise a quitter, but if your kid hates it and after months and months of practice and training he/she still isn’t good at karate, why not give piano lessons a whirl? Nothing sucks more than being forced to do something you’re not good at. Doing something you are good at, on the other hand, is an awesome experience for a child.
10. Spend the night somewhere they feel uncomfortable. I hated sleepovers when I was kid. I hated the idea of sleeping in a strange bed, having someone else make me breakfast, having to use someone else’s shower. It just freaked me out, so I never went to slumber parties. If your kid feels the same, don’t force the issue. I know it would be nice to have a night off, but just ask grandma to come stay the night while you and dad hit the town. Everyone wins.
What about you? Is there anything you’d never force your child to do? Share in the comments.
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