How to Deal with Parental Guilt: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Use guilt as a learning tool, not a torture device.

It’s unavoidable -- feeling the occasional guilt is part of being a parent. Parental guilt isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, a dose of it here and there shows that you care about your little one, how he may feel and what he’s going through. What you do with the feeling is what counts. When guilt leads to a learning experience, it helps you be a better mom and gain self-respect, according to parenting author Ericka Lutz. What’s not good is when your guilt results in unhealthy parenting habits.


  1. 1
    Remind yourself that money doesn’t buy happiness if you feel bad about not being able to afford everything that you want to give your toddler or preschooler. Vacations to theme parks and the coolest must-have toys are not the ingredients for a happy kid. What tots value more is the time that you and others spend with him. Instead of fretting about the presents you can’t buy, do meaningful activities with your sweet pea, like regularly scheduled family times or play dates.
  2. 2
    Examine your expectations if you feel guilty about your anger. Every kid thinks that she’s the center of the universe; it’s how she’s wired. So, it’s normal for your tot to want to dominate your attention and demand that you make her wishes instantly come true. However, you need to weigh the expectations of your child against what’s normal. Instead of losing your temper, try setting limits, setting a good example and teaching your tot the correct way to behave. In addition, make it a point to have interactions that are more positive than negative.
  3. 3
    Change your schedule or habits when possible if you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your little one. If you work or study, it can be hard to change your schedule, so follow licensed counselor Calisa Nickelson’s advice and make the most of the time that you do get to spend with your kid. When you’re home, eat meals together and make it a point to have regularly scheduled reading and activity times. At the same time, don’t forget to take care of yourself by working out and doing activities that you enjoy.
  4. 4
    Set limits and discipline your kid when it’s appropriate. When a tot knows that you feel bad about getting him “in trouble” when he deserves it, he’ll learn how to lay the guilt on thick. To keep your little one’s behavior in check, you must set limits. When he acts in a way that he shouldn’t, disciplinary action will help him learn about consequences. Discipline isn’t about yelling or bottom-spanking. It’s about providing a logical consequence to negative behaviors. If your tot throws a fit whenever you turn off the TV, don’t let him watch TV for a few days.
  5. 5
    Talk to people you trust if you worry about making a mistake. There’s only so much that parenting books and classes can teach you about raising kids. It’s normal to worry about making a bad decision, not knowing what to do and accidents (these happen often). Parenting expert Nancy Samalin states that if an accident caused your tot pain, learn from the experience so it doesn’t happen again. If you’re not sure about what to do, get advice from a parenting expert, counselor, friend or even your own parents.

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