Are we striving to win over our children, or are we trying to win against them?

This is a question that every parent should ask themselves when evaluating their parenting techniques. In the quest for control and compliance, many parents end up in a power struggle with their children. They stand behind their kids, watching every action, hoping that the child completes tasks as per their standards and speed. But is this the right approach to building a healthy parent-child relationship?

When a child makes a mistake, parents often react with frustration. “How many times have I told you?” “Why don’t you remember?” They scold and berate the child. But what does this achieve? It only draws a dividing line between the parent and the child.

This is one of the most common parenting mistakes.

Many parents rush to criticize their children because they don’t want to share the responsibility of the outcome. They insist, “I told you so!” and “You’re disobedient!” The haste to absolve themselves of any blame is a sign of emotional immaturity.

Deep down, we fear condemnation. Perhaps, as children ourselves, we were frequently chastised by our parents. Thus, when your child accidentally breaks a cup, your first instinct might be, “Someone is about to get scolded.” And you’d hope it isn’t you.

In this moment, you’re not the mature adult; you’re still the scared child who fears punishment for breaking a cup. This fear often manifests as anger, which allows you to shift the blame onto your child, making them feel guilty and miserable.

In such scenarios, the child learns nothing from the incident except to avoid upsetting their parent. They don’t acquire any useful life skills.

Parents should share the responsibility for mistakes with their children. After all, they are the guardians and nurturers of the child. Every mistake should be viewed as a learning opportunity, not an occasion for reprimand.

If you constantly strive to outdo your child—in every debate, every decision, even in life choices like who they should marry or what career they should pursue—you’re instilling a harmful pattern. If every interaction becomes a battle where you win and your child loses, they will grow accustomed to feeling like a failure.

What does it mean to win over a child? It means fostering a relationship of love and respect where they feel comfortable asking questions and valuing your opinion. The most effective way to achieve this is through empathetic listening and adopting the right parenting practices.

When your child exhibits an undesirable behavior, try saying something like, “When I was your age, I made the same mistake. I also broke things.” You could express your disappointment about the broken cup, acknowledging its cost and your fondness for it. But it’s also important to assure your child that the most important thing is no one got hurt.

Help them clean up the mess carefully, sharing your own experiences of fear when you broke something as a child. Turn the incident into a lesson about caution and careful handling. Each mistake should lead to the acquisition of a new skill, fostering wisdom and growth.

So, let’s shift our perspective from winning against our children to winning over them. Every mistake is an opportunity for growth, not a battlefield to claim victory. In the end, the real victory is in raising a self-confident, empathetic, and resilient child.