Are you making these parenting mistakes?

By: Chris Bourret

“Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and hope we’ve set aside enough money to pay for our kids’ therapy.”
~ Michelle Pfeiffer

Miss Pfeiffer speaks truth. There is no perfect parent. All we can do is try our best and learn from our mistakes. Avoid the mistakes listed below and you’ll be well on your way to being an awesome dad!

Empty promises – Good or bad

My favorite saying when it comes to parenting is ‘Say what you mean, and mean what you say’.

Don’t promise anything that you don’t intend to keep. This goes for rewards, as well as punishments. If you threaten to throw out all the toys on the floor if they don’t get picked up, you better be ready to follow through. Or at least fake it. Grab a garbage bag and start filling it. Go as far as you need to prove your point. They’ll know you’re serious when a bag of their favorite toys is sitting on the curb. On the same note, if you promise ice cream if they finish their veggies, don’t back out when they are able to choke down their broccoli.

Lack of discipline in public

We’ve all seen it. Little Johnny waiting in line at the grocery store spots all the chocolate bars. Quick as lightning, Little Johnny takes the stage and treats everyone within a ten foot radius with the mother of all tantrums. But this isn’t Little Johnny’s first time. He’s played this game before. He knows that eventually mom or dad will give in and reward his performance with sweet chocolaty goodness.

Never reward negative behavior. You’re only doing it for the sake of others. I have no problems listening to a child’s tantrum if it means teaching a lesson. Kids are smart, they know if they cause a scene in public it’s an automatic win.

Not allowing mistakes

Even if you see it from a mile away, sometimes kids just need to fall on their ass. (Figuratively)

Our daughter is always tormenting the family cat. While it’s all in good nature, she can be overwhelming. We’ve warned her a zillion times to leave the cat alone or he is going to scratch. Normally we would separate the two once it becomes excessive, but not anymore.

Sure, we’ll intervene if anyone is in danger but now the cat is free to give a little scratch in defense. A couple scratches later, Little Miss knows to be gentle or face the wrath of kitty.

Too afraid to say no

Parent first, be a buddy after. You’re the parent. It’s your given right to say no. This is the closest you will ever to be to controlling another human, have some fun.

I’m kidding… sort of.

Kids need to hear that special two letter word once in a while. Flex your parenting muscles and don’t be afraid to smack down the no hammer. Be tough, but fair.

Don’t say no just for the hell of it… unless it’s funny.

This has been a guest post by Chris Bourret. Chris lives in Alberta, Canada with his wife and daughter (Soon to be two!). His fondest memory growing up in Canada is how his mom would warm his toque every morning in the oven before riding his pet polar bear to school. Cable guy by day, blogger by night, Chris spends his free time blogging about practical advice about fatherhood at

5 Responses to “Are you making these parenting mistakes?”
  1. BloggerFather October 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    If my kid pulls a Supermarket-Tantrum on me I will either ignore him or get out of the place (at least until he relaxes). You’re right about giving in, which is something we shouldn’t do just because people are watching and giving us the stink eyes, but I also don’t often yell at him in public. That might be just because I’m more aware of my actions in public, and if anything, it should teach me to yell less when it’s just me and him at home.

    • Chris @ Cleverfather October 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      We had a similar situation at a restaurant. Little Miss was throwing a tantrum for some trivial reason. She wouldn’t settle down so the wife and I took shifts with her sitting in the car. We weren’t about to give in or reward just to calm her down. It was a pain in the ass, but hopefully a lesson learned!

  2. Carlo October 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Good post there, Chris. Try as we may, often fall short on the promises department. I’m too young to have “senior moments” but sometimes we make promises we don’t remember.

    As for public tantrums, one way I deal with it is, before going out in public, I talk with the little ones before we step out of the house or step out of the car. If it’s the supermarket, I make sure I tell them ahead of time that we are only shopping for this and that, nothing else. That seems to keep the tantrums from happening. And if it does happen, I kneel down to their level and calmly remind them of our talk in the car/house.

  3. IyagiDad November 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Knowing that it happens is half the battle. Being open to self-conviction is the other. Thanks!

  4. Ryan Maclane January 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m not a strict dad, but when it comes to rewarding negative behavior I try to avoid it as much as possible. No chocolate for my kids just to shut them up when they are being bad.

    However, my daughter loves pink milk. So when she is a good girl she gets a cup of pink milk and she is over the moon!

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