The teenage years are coming at an alarming speed. While it's impossible to ever be fully ready for the tumultuous years, there are a few key things that moms do that can lead to more arguing down the road. Just because we think we're raising angels now doesn't mean that our current parenting habits can't eventually come back to bite us in the behind.
How many times have you been told, "Just wait until the teenage years"? Only when their toddlers start getting particularly out-of-hand do parents usually start thinking about their parenting ways and whether they're raising uncontrollable little monsters.
But what if there were a few habits parents could change right now in order to actually ensure they have some respect in the house once their little tween turns into a hormone-filled teenager? Wouldn’t a parent do anything they can to put the odds in their favor? Let’s have a look at some of the things mom might be doing to her toddler that may lead to more arguments in the future. If mom is doing most of these, then it might be time to try and reverse the situation. It’s never too late to change some habits but it’s better to start sooner rather than later.
20 Gifts > Experiences
Did Santa bring your child a ton of presents for Christmas? You’re not alone.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t usually give your kids a ton of presents, so you tend to get a little too much over the holidays and special occasions like birthdays. I totally get it. It’s also hard not to feel bad when scrolling past the countless pictures of other moms getting a ton of presents for their kids. But by focusing on materialistic gifts instead of experiences (e.g. trips to the zoo or indoor swimming pool), then you’re really only raising an entitled child who will learn to expect expensive presents. Is that really what you want?
19 'Look! You Colored Outside The Lines'
It’s hard not to criticize when your child comes up to you with the twelfth oddly colored drawing, filled with scribbles, colors that don't make sense and outside-of-the-lines coloring. But whatever you do, remember never to criticize. This one really can’t be stated enough. Instead, try the following approach:
“Ohhh! What an interesting drawing. Why did you use the green crayon to color the clouds?”
By asking questions, you’re actually showing interest, as well as promoting critical thinking and creativity. They’ll learn to color within the lines eventually but in the meantime, appreciate every piece of art and think of yourself as an art critic… just a non-critical descriptive one only.
Over-criticizing now will simply lead to tougher times in the future as your child gets tired of constantly being critiqued.
18 The More You Say 'They're Just Shy,' The More They'll Act The Part
"Oh, I'm sorry, he's just shy!"
Just those few words strung up in that kind of sentence can have a huge impact on your little one’s self-esteem. However, it’s very important to avoid these kinds of labels. The same goes for “he doesn’t listen” or anything of the sort. The more your child hears you say it, the more they’re actually going to think to themselves, “That’s how I must be.”
But how do you mitigate other people calling your kid shy? Psychology Today described the way one couple handled this situation: “Whenever they were at church, someone would invariably ask Emily a question, and she wouldn't answer. If the person then asked, "Oh, she's shy, isn't she?" Dave and Shari made sure to say something like, "Wait until you get to know Emily. She'll talk to you about anything."
17 Catering To A Picky Eater's Every Demand
Picky eating is a daily struggle with kids. They might love mac and cheese one day, only to push the plate away and cause it to drop on the drop the very next day. The same goes for pretty much any other food, even seemingly hard-not-to-like ones such as pizza, cheese, or anything else.
But the last thing you actually want to be doing is playing waitress to your picky eater, handing him different kinds of foods as he keeps on rejecting choices 1, 2, and 3.
That just teaches your kid it’s OK to be picky. Can you just picture them once they become teenagers? Eek!
Healthy Children advises instead trying to involve kids in the cooking process, making eating fun, and most importantly, sit together as a family.
16 Using The Sibling As A Role Model
When you have more than one child, there’s nothing easier than to say, “Look! Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother who isn’t crying and is eating all their food?”
As Psychology Today explains, “Does anyone actually enjoy being negatively compared to others? If you start a sentence with, “Why can’t you be like…” trust me, you’ve just hurt your kid. Such hurt is frequently at the root of teenagers’ anger at their parents. Many teenagers feel they are under attack when their parents compare them to peers or siblings. It also undermines their peer/sibling relationships and increases emotional tension.”
15 Not Following Through
What do you do when you warn your child that if they keep doing what they’re doing, there’s going to be a consequence? Do you give them three chances? Do you follow through right away? Or do you sometimes (OK often) end up letting the situation slide.
Most moms are guilty of the last scenario but as iMom points out, following through is beyond important from a very young age.
“When we ease off of an agreed upon punishment or scrap it altogether, we are communicating to our child that our words don’t mean much. So when you tell your child, 'If you don’t stop that right now, you’ll go to your room,' follow through.”
14 Or Not Disciplining At All
While some moms don’t follow through, there are others still who don’t discipline at all. But as Working Mother aptly explains, “The key to well-behaved kids isn’t punishment. It’s discipline, and there’s a big difference.” As you can imagine, not enforcing consequences for unwanted behavior will only lead to more arguing in the future. Instead, try getting to the root of the problem as to why your child is misbehaving. Be authoritative instead of authoritarian and more importantly, make sure your child understands what happens when they sidestep rules.
Do your kids habitually squabble in the backseat of your car? "Say to them before you leave, 'If you argue, I will pull over to the side of the road and wait until you're ready to stop. We'll only drive when both of you say you're done,'" suggests Dr. Nelsen.
13 No Explanations Afterwards
But if you’re the kind of mom who does indeed follow through with discipline, then there’s still something you might be doing wrong. Sending your toddler for a time-out is fine and dandy but not if they don’t actually know what they did wrong or what they can do to make the situation better next time. Their reasoning skills simply aren’t advanced enough yet, which is where you come in. Let’s say after a time-out or a consequence that was put in place, make sure to talk to your child after and explain what happened. And yes, this even applies to two-year-olds! You’d be surprised how much they actually understand once given the chance.
12 Engaging In Endless Back-And-Forths
While we already covered you should strive to be authoritative instead of authoritarian, it’s also important to realize that you still get the last word. If you tell your child that they can’t have a cookie before bed, then make sure not to engage in endless back-and-forths about why.
The answer is simply “no” and that’s it!
As Parents.com explains, “Endless bickering is pointless since the outcome is predetermined […] "Your kids have the right to be disappointed or upset when they don't get their way, but you shouldn't engage them in a verbal back-and-forth," says Amy McCready.”
If you have trouble with this one, just picture arguing with them in the same way once they're a teenager… Oh no!
11 Piling On The Praise
Praise the good behavior instead of punishing the bad is always the preferred way of discipline in any situation. However, there is such as a thing as overdoing it on the praise. And if you praise your child, they might not believe you anymore once they’re teenagers. Just visualize telling your child they should go to college, only to have them respond back they’re not smart enough.
As flabbergasting as such a situation may be, it just highlights the importance of giving praise when it really is due. Psychology Today points out:
“Too much praise of any sort can also be unhealthy. Research has found that students who were lavished with praise were more cautious in their responses to questions, had less confidence in their answers, were less persistent in difficult assignments, and less willing to share their ideas.”
10 Letting Them Drop Out
Let’s say you’ve been all excited for your child to start ballet or music classes, only to have them start crying at the thought of going just a few classes in. What do you do? If you want to make sure to raise a less argumentative teen in the future, then follow iMom’s advice:
“When your child asks to quit an activity or sport, make sure you know their motive. Perhaps there is a good reason for the decision, but if the child simply doesn’t 'feel' like putting forth the effort they should not be allowed to quit. Many studies show that extracurricular activities help children learn valuable lessons or skills and can also help them academically.”
9 Not Assigning Any Chores
As much as toddlers are uncoordinated and beyond slow, they’re still little people learning to fit within the family and if you’re not assigning them any chores, then you’re definitely going to have a problem when they’re teenagers. How can you expect them to clean their room or do the dishes later on if they have never helped around the house? It’s not going to happen.
The earlier you start, the better it will be. Parents.com suggests starting with picking up toys and clothes, followed by helping with the family pet. And we certainly can’t forget every toddler’s favorite chore: laundry!
8 Misunderstanding Gentle Parenting
Gentle parenting is the popular style of parenting nowadays but there’s a clear distinction to be made with this form of parenting. Although it’s gentle, it might no way means that parents are supposed to let their kids run the house! As TheConversation.com explains:
“The problems people may see with this style of parenting generally stem from a problem of definition. Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Permissive parenting means never saying no, not provoking tantrums or crying and always wanting to please the child. This style of parenting is the antithesis of gentle parenting.”
So practice gentle parenting but just not the permissive one!
“Gentle parenting also requires parental self-control, because you have to take a step back, think and ask, “What is my child’s behavior communicating in this moment?” and, “What can I do differently to prevent this behavior next time?’”
7 Raising Your Voice
Toddlers are LOUD and it’s difficult not to be loud right back. But whenever you have difficulties with this one, just remind yourself how much more difficult it will be during the teenage years. Instead, teach your kids early that yelling back is not OK. And what better way to teach that than by setting a good example yourself?
In fact, as per Today’s Parent, “Adolescents whose parents had been using yelling as a discipline method were more likely to have behavioral issues and to act out (including with vandalism and violence).”
According to some studies, yelling actually has the same effect as some stricter forms of discipline!
6 'Please Just Stop!'
If you’re at home, then ignoring a toddler’s temper tantrum can be a little easier. But what about when you’re in the middle of a store or a restaurant and suddenly all eyes turn towards you in the judgiest of ways? That’s usually when all the bad parenting strategies will come into play and moms usually find themselves resorting to offering cookies and pleading for their kids to stop.
But as you can imagine, that’s a tactic you never want to actually be turning to, especially not if you want to make sure to raise your child to listen to you when they’re a teenager.
Sometimes, it’s best to just call it a day, grab your child under your arm and head back home.
5 Apologizing All The Time
Up there with pleading with your child, you also want to make sure not to overuse apologies. Parents.com explains, “I'm sorry" has its place in family life, for example, when you lose your temper or accidentally throw away your child's precious artwork. But there's no need to be remorseful about not being able to buy her pricey boots that aren't in your budget or putting off a trip to the park because you have to cook dinner. It's beneficial to empathize with her disappointment since doing so shows that you respect her feelings. Just don't harp on what caused it ("I know you're sad that we can't visit the playground, but we don't have time today; we'll go another time").
"Helping a child accept that she won't get everything she wants is an important life lesson," notes Karen Ruskin, Psy.D., a family therapist.”
4 No Is Yes
Look, we’re all guilty of giving in, especially as our child stares at us with puppy dog eyes or does something that makes us laugh. But you definitely don’t want to make a habit out of it. If you’re always going back on your word and giving in, then your toddler will clearly learn the way to get what they want. If you need any convincing on this one, just visualize your teen asking if they can hang out with friends until really late when you imposed a 9 pm curfew. The last thing you want to be doing is giving in!
3 'I'll Give You A Candy If...'
“I’ll give you a candy if you just lie down and take a nap.”
Undoubtedly, this one doesn’t require too many explanations but it is important to recognize the immense problem it creates for the future. Just like the point about giving in, the same goes for offering a reward to get them to do something.
The last thing you want your child to be doing as a teen is only studying for a reward or cleaning their room if you give them money. It just sets a very bad precedent for the future and it’s not a cycle you want to fall into.
2 Using The TV As A Babysitter
The vast majority of parents use the television, tablet, or phone as a babysitter. It’s just the current reality, but it’s vital to know the role this habit can play in the future. While kids watch TV or any other piece of tech, there’s basically no interaction happening with the parents. Countless studies have also not only linked childhood TV watching to future obesity but also to hyperactivity issues. Some studies have even shown a correlation between angrier responses later on in kids whose parents used the TV as a babysitter. It’s OK to let your kids watch TV sometimes or play an app but it shouldn’t be an all-day activity.
1 Doing Everything For Them
There are many tasks toddlers simply can’t do yet. But the question here is whether they’re not ready yet or if you, as the mom, simply don’t want to deal with the extra time it’s going to take or the mess you might need to clean up. As iMom explains the best:
“As your children grow up they should become increasingly self-sufficient. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way, especially if they’re used to you doing everything for them. Little by little, start to reinforce your child’s independence and self-sufficiency by limiting the things you do for them. Teach them how to do those things and increase their responsibilities around the home.”
You certainly don't want to end up continuing to clean your teen's room or picking out their clothes!