anak As parents, we all make mistakes. On the Parental Support Line, I often encourage parents to give themselves a break—after all, it’s impossible for any of us to be perfect. Our kids test us at every age and stage; it’s part of their job as children to push boundaries with us and see where the line is drawn.

As they get older, it can often feel like we are running through a parenting obstacle course: just when we’ve figured out one stage—and its many challenges—our kids move on to the next one. So you might feel pretty confident in your role as a parent when your child is nine, but then everything changes again when he moves on to the tween years and starts acting out in new, unimagined ways.

The other problem with looking for a “magic consequence” is that it assumes that the consequence itself will change behavior.

While mistakes happen, I think it’s always a good idea to be aware of what you’re doing so you can adjust your reaction to your child’s behavior; this helps you become a more effective parent. Over the years, I’ve helped parents get through all kinds of “obstacles” with their kids, no matter what the stage. Here are the 5 top mistakes that we hear about on the Support Line:

• Personalizing your child’s behavior
• Misunderstanding the developmental stage of your child.
• Expecting one type of parenting style to fit kids with a specific diagnosis.
• Looking for a “magic consequence.”
• Believing that harsh, long-term punishments will work.

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