Parent traps

Guest post by Professor Matt Sanders

It’s tough being a parent but it’s easy to fall into one of the common parenting traps.

The criticism trap is when there are frequent power struggles with your child. The situations escalate from criticising to threatening and yelling. This type of discipline often backfires. The parent’s anger makes the child and parent resentful and hostile. If these kinds of battles take place frequently, its time to try a new way of handling the situation.

The “leave them alone” trap involves the parent simply not acknowledging their child when they are behaving well. If good behaviour is taken for granted it may be replaced with the misbehaviour that receives more attention. A basic principle of positive parenting is to praise behaviours you would like to see more often.

The “for the sake of the children” trap occurs when parents in unhappy marriages stick doggedly to the same marriage routines, for the sake of the children, rather than addressing the problems constructively.

The perfect parent trap. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and trying to be one will only lead to disappointment, resentment, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy.

The martyr trap is one where parents become so over-involved in the task of parenting they neglect their own needs. The parents’ relationship suffers and may end in feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment. Quality parenting can only happen when adults have their own lives in balance.

Parenting is sometimes hard work and it may take time to tackle difficult problems. The good news is that help is always at hand. In Penrith, parenting support is offered for free with Triple P, one of the world’s most highly-regarded parenting programs. 

Professor Matt Sanders is founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. For more information go to or


Categories: Parenting Skills


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