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7 Mistakes Parents Make When Seeking To Get The Best ForTheir Children

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Life is difficult and seems to get more so every day. We are stressed by the demands of our jobs, our families, and people we interact with daily, and we get bogged down. But before we get a new job and interact with different people, maybe all we need to do is change our approach.

This week, Outlook begins a new series - Change your Mindset, Change your Life. With the help of certified behaviour modification coach and author Trevor E. Smith, we will help you through some of the bumps and scrapes of life - to be more productive, dealing with difficult people, and a host of other topics, with his insightful perspective and boost of confidence for life.

To kick off the series and the start of Child Month, we begin our focus on children and parenting. This week, we look at seven mistakes parents make in trying to get the best out of and for their children.

Mary* lives in a rural farming community. Like generations before her, she carves out a modest living. Her seven-year-old son is doing well, academically, and has hopes of becoming a doctor. Mary is determined to break her family's cycle of poverty, and is committed to bringing her son's dream to reality.

Mary is not unique. Worthy parents seek to get the best for their children. Why, then, do so many fail to get the desired results?

In this series of articles, we will explore issues related to getting the best results with your child. Today, we examine seven common pitfalls that derail the efforts of parents to get the best for their children.

7. They fail to recognise the difference between coaching and mentoring. An example from Usain Bolt will show the importance of the distinction. To retain his Olympic title, Bolt needs someone to help him with the technical aspects of his race (coach). He also needs someone to remind him of his legacy and motivate him to becoming a legend (mentor).

Some parents fail to focus on being chief mentor and get frustrated because they are not equipped to help with schoolwork or sports.

Help your child to identify their life purpose and to clarify their vision of the future. Be their cheerleader and a source of support.

6. They see the child as their second coming. Many parents try to correct their disappointments through the lives of their children. They did not achieve their ambition of being a sports star and the child is drilled into an Olympic-style routine as soon as they are able to walk.

Living out your dreams by imposing them on your children is to rob them of their chance to fashion a life of their own. That is dishonest and selfish.

Others want to prolong the successes that they have achieved. The child is them roped in to continue their legacy. There are too many frustrated mid-career individuals who are trapped trying to follow in their parents' footsteps.

5. The dreams of the parents crowd out the desires of the child. Some parents have a view about what would be good for the child. This is the old 'doctor, lawyer' mentality. So many children are frustrated pursuing careers that their parents imposed on them. Wise parents ensure that the child has an important voice in the discussion of careers.

4. Win at all costs. Parents slip up by failing to emphasise the importance of integrity. Pushing the child to win at all costs - even supporting them in cutting corners - has been a pitfall for many over-ambitious parents. There is now a renewed emphasis on ethical conduct. Cultivating a belief that beating the system is a viable option is going to backfire.

3. Bogged down in the past. Generations are trapped in a cycle because parents look to their history and not to a sense of what the future could hold. The family tradition is the blueprint that is followed. Expectations are shaped by the past and the children get stuck in a rut. They are discouraged from having 'unrealistic dreams'. They are pushed to 'face reality'.

2. Drowned in disappointment. The reaction to GSAT results highlights how some parents derail the development of their children. Those parents get so fixated on getting their children into the "right" schools that when that does not happen, their disappointment clouds their interaction with the child. They send a message to the child that they are failures and not up to the standard that their parents expect of them. Some children have a difficult time overcoming this blow to their self-worth. Worse yet, they are denied access to their natural source of comfort and support.

1. Failure to count the cost. Some parents fail to recognise what is needed to achieve excellence. They fail to spend enough time mentoring their children. In addition, they do not impress upon their children the need for discipline and effort in achieving their goals. Excellence demands hard work, persistence and considerable sacrifice. The sacrifice often includes the parents' own goals and desires.

*Names changed to protect identity

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy - home of the International Coach Federation-approved Certified Behavioural Coach Award. Email: Visit the website: