Chances are that if you even asked yourself this question, the answer is no. You care enough about being a parent to spend time pondering whether you're doing the best for your children. You've almost certainly had moments when you know you did the wrong thing; punished excessively, ignored reasonable requests, or allowed unacceptable behavior to go on without stopping it. But as long as this is not your usual parenting style, you aren't a bad parent.
Parenting isn't easy, and much as we'd like to devote all the time in the world to our kids, we all have other issues and pressures to deal with: work or studies (or both), relationships, financial issues, health and more. We have to prioritize among our many obligations and our children won't always be in first place (and it's important for them to understand that too). Additionally, our successes and failures in the other parts of our life affect how we relate to our children. We all know that when we're pressured at work or elsewhere, we're more likely to be preoccupied or downright grumpy with our kids.
Professionals who deal with children and family relationships have scientifically proven that positive reinforcement is the best way to get children to learn good behavior. They recommend a three-part approach:
- Give your children a lot of praise when they're doing the right thing
- Don't be generic -- clearly tell them what you're so pleased about
- Emphasize your praise with a hug or touch
"I'm so proud of how you studied hard for your math test. You deserve that A," is a better response than a simple, "Aren't you clever." You're letting the child know exactly what she did well, so she knows you value her efforts. Similarly, when your child has done something wrong, you should tell him exactly what the problem is, and let him know that the behavior is bad, not that he's a bad kid.