Kids need to know their parents love them. But some moms and dads think that the way to show love is to accept children's bad behavior. And that can turn even good kids into spoiled brats, says parenting guru Nancy Samalin, New York City-based author of "Loving without Spoiling" and other books on parenting.
Here are Nancy's nine parenting no-nos.
Mistake: Always "Rescuing" Your Child
Are you a "helicopter parent," always hovering overhead to make sure your child does things right - and swooping in at the first sign of trouble? Big mistake. Kids need to experience disappointment. They need to know what it's like to struggle with a problem. If it's a matter of protecting your child's safety or health, by all means step in. But if your child oversleeps or leaves his lunch at home, let him/her suffer the consequences.
Mistake: Trying to Keep Your Child from Feeling Unhappy
As long as they don't persist, sadness, frustration, and other negative emotions won't hurt your child. Sometimes they teach vital lessons about behavior. Your job as a parent isn't to make sure your child never suffers disappointment. A disappointed child is not an unloved child.
Mistake: Saying No - But Not Really Meaning It
Kids need to know that when you say no, you mean it. No backtalk, no arguing. Otherwise you give the message that things are always negotiable - and that encourages kids to become manipulative. So when you say no, stick to your guns. Don't give lengthy explanations or aplopgize. Just move on.
Mistake: Offering "Bribes"
Kids should do what they're supposed to do without being bribed by their parents. Offering bribes for cleaning up a room, making the bed, tooth-brushing, etc., makes you look weak - and encourages them to expect rewards for everything they do.
Mistake: Always Putting Your Child First
Your child should know that the marital relationship sometimes takes priority. There's nothing wrong with setting aside some time together with your spouse even if your kid objects. For example, if you and your spouse have a "date" every Thursday night and your child hates being left out, take the time anyway.
Mistake: Indulging the "Gimmes"
Most kids have a bottomless pit of things they want. But what do they really need? Not a great deal beyond your love and your time. Think twice before giving them more "stuff."
Mistake: Tolerating Rudeness
No matter how angry or upset your child becomes, he/she should not be allowed to be rude or discourteous. Teach your child from a very early age - as soon as he/she is able to talk - to say please, thank you, and excuse me. Make it clear that it's never okay to name-call, curse, or insult others.
Mistake: Giving In to Whining
Parents who give in when their kids whine, pout, or throw tantrums produce whiny kids. No way around it. Make sure your child knows you will not change your mind just because he/she makes a fuss. Even if your child says, "I hate you," don't take it personally.
Mistake: Making Excuses for Your Child
Kids should be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, they have a hard time learning that in the "real world" there are consequences for bad or inconsiderate behavior. For example, if your child forgets to thank his aunt for a gift, don't tell her that "he just has so much work to do that he probably just forgot."