Getting Started

Parental Traps

Let’s take a look at some of the most common Parental Traps that might be making your family life a little stressful:

1. The “criticism” trap

This trap is when a parent engages in a power struggle with their child. Typical reactions to a child’s misbehaviour in these situations are often an increase in criticism, threats, yelling, or hitting. This type of discipline backfires and leads to anger, resentment and hostility between parent and child. If you think that these types of interactions take place too often within your family, it could be time to try a new way of handling things.

2. The “leave them alone” trap

This trap occurs in combination with the criticism trap and involves a parent ignoring their child’s good behaviours. If a child gets little to no attention for good behaviours, they are less likely to behave that way again. In fact, they are more likely to replace good behavior with bad behavior which tends to receive more attention. Positive parenting is based on the principle of praising and rewarding behaviours parents would like to see more often from their children.

3. The “for the sake of the children” trap

This trap occurs when parents are within constant marital conflict believe that it is more important to cling to the same marriage routines rather than learning new ways to resolve their issues—for the sake of the children. Children raised in families where conflict and stress between parenting partners are common tend to develop more emotional and behavioural problems compared to those raised in stable families, regardless of whether that family is a one or two parent family.

4. The “perfect parent” trap

This trap is the result of our human desire to be perfect. Try as we might, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Aiming to be the “perfect parent” will only lead to disappointment, resentment, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy. Parents are encouraged to recognize that parenting is a combination of both learned skills and an on-going positive and loving relationship between themselves and their child.

5. The “martyr” trap

This trap occurs when a parent becomes so over-involved in the task of parenting that they begin to forget their own basic needs. Parents need to make time for intimacy, companionship, recreation, privacy, and fun. In the case where a parent’s relationship with their partner and loved ones might suffer, they may end up feeling dissatisfied and bitter towards their child. It is easier for you to be patient, consistent and available to your child when your own needs are being met.