Is it alright to throw your kids into the water, if it will teach them how to swim?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Some would say yes; if you don’t force your children into challenging situations, they likely wouldn’t learn. Excellence is hinged on the application of consistent pressure. Other parents would reply an adamant ‘no’. Being made to do something that you don’t want to do can be traumatic for any child.
So, who has it right?
Both have solid points, but you have to find the healthy medium in between. While parents are recommended to dare their kids outside their comfort zones, they should also be respectful of their kids’ choices and pace of learning. You have to be able to push --- without being pushy.
How can you tell if you’re being a pushy parent? Consider the following:
Do you give options?
A sure sign that you’re a pushy parent is if you don’t provide choices. You’re always demanding that your kids do what you want, you ‘volunteer’ them without their permission, and you don’t respect any suggestion that they would raise. A more democratic parenting involves giving your kids alternatives, rather than telling them what to do.
Do you hear the word ‘no’?
It’s one thing to give options, and quite another to respect the choices that the kids actually make. Note that you have to hear the word no both verbally and non-verbally. Do you stop insisting what you want when you see your kids’ body posture tense up?
This, of course, applies only in areas of preference rather than limits or discipline. For instance, it’s alright to be unbending in issues like curfew, but not in things like dress style or extra-curricular activities.
Are your reactions appropriate?
Some parents react disproportionately to their kids not agreeing with their interests or commands. For instance, some parents get uncontrollably mad, and even threaten to inflict extreme punishments, if their kids tell them that they want to quit a certain sport or hobby. A certain disappointment is allowed any parent of course. But if you notice that you seem to want something for your child way too much, perhaps it’s time to take a breather and back off.
Have others complained about your ‘pushiness’?
Pushy parents are easy to spot. They are the ones who argue with teachers and coaches about their kids’ performance, and the ones that neighbors can see literally dragging their kids where they want to go. They’re the helicopter parents --- always hovering around their child! If you’ve heard a friend, a guidance counselor or even your kids hint that you may, in fact, have been quite pushy, then maybe you need to reflect a bit.
Are you more concerned about achievement rather than your child’s experience?
Sometimes we can get sidetracked by our desire for our kids’ excellence that we forget another thing that is as important: are our kids finding fulfillment in what they are doing? The simplest way to know this is to ask. A pushy parent is one who is unwilling to back down--- even when their kids no longer find any satisfaction in what they do!
Lastly, is your child acting out?
Sometimes the clearest sign that your child feels that he is being controlled, is if they are starting to act out control and power issues. If your kid has a tendency to bully siblings, vent out anger in their toys, or cower in the presence of other authority figures, then you may have to think about whether you may just be pushing them a bit too much.
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