Q: I'm a new parent. I've been reading lots of parenting magazines but there's so much to learn I feel overwhelmed. Could you just tell me what are the most common mistakes parents make? Maybe I could prevent some of them as my little one grows. -- M. M.
A: First, remember that we all make mistakes, no matter how much we study or learn or strive to be great parents. And it's OK to make mistakes; we are only human and we usually learn from these mistakes.
We all just do the best we can with what we know at the time, whenever our children challenge us. Then we usually try something new and keep learning as the children grow.
Here is a short list of the "mistakes" I think are the most common in parenting.
• Assuming that you know all there is to know about your child. This can lead to assumptions that can convey negative messages or create missed opportunities.
For example, you might say, "She is really, really shy and sensitive. I need to pave the way for her and help her with anything new because she's an introvert." Soon you'll believe what you are saying to be absolutely true when it may not be the case at all.
Some children who appear to be "shy" are strong-willed individuals who simply want to look things over before jumping in. Saying "she is shy" and expecting her to be an introvert can create anxiety about self-image and mixed feelings about how to relate to others.
• Overloading and overscheduling children. In our culture it seems that we need to be "busy" or appear to be busy all the time.
Parents sometimes think children need to be busy with constant scheduled activities, but children need to be children, not adults. They need balance and downtime.