Comparing them to others
Each and every child is different, equipped with varying strengths and weaknesses. If your friend’s child is excelling at a certain subject at school, don’t point the finger at your own offspring, demanding to know why they’re not as talented. Instead, understand that each child is blessed in different ways.
Not allowing them to speak
Constantly shutting down your child whenever they go to speak is a surefire way to destroy their self-confidence. Just because they’re young, it doesn’t make their thoughts and opinions worthless. Listen to your child – not only will it build their communication skills, but you just might learn something new.
There’s nothing like a love between a parent and a child. This love can cause many parents to spoil their offspring, giving them the best of the best at all times. However, constantly catering to them can give them an unrealistic view of the world, instilling the belief that everything they want will be handed to them on a silver platter.
Shouting at them
Studies have shown that shouting at your child can increase their risk of developing self-esteem issues and depression. The only time you should yell at your child is if it’s to alert them to danger. Otherwise, you should always speak to your kid in a calm and controlled manner, offering them sturdy guidance as opposed to aggressive, intimidating wordplay.
Doting on them
As kids get older, they tend to take advantage of their parents. Once they hit their teenage years, there’s no excuse as to why they can’t help out around the house. Encourage them to get involved in household activities – it’ll give them a sense of responsibility, boosting their self-worth.
It should go without saying – but there’s never a need to raise your hand to your child. Although it was deemed as an acceptable form of punishment decades ago, it has no place in the 21st century. Hitting your child is a form of abuse, and it’ll have long-term detrimental effects on your relationship. Physical marks can leave psychological wounds that take years to heal.
Failing to choose your battles
Sometimes, it simply isn’t worth it. If your child does something minor, having a tantrum about something insignificant, it can be best to avoid the confrontation altogether. This isn’t to say you should ignore them entirely – rather that you should calmly explain to them the situation at hand, and then let it go.
Neglecting to give them responsibility
Many parents feel the need to shield their children, protecting them from adult life. However, a failure to give your child any form of responsibility can result in a floundering adulthood. Give your kid a small task that they’re in charge of – it’ll give them a sense of independence from a young age.
Giving them too much money
Giving your child heaps of money to spend on a whim can lead to financial struggles later in life. Treat your kid by all means, but just ensure that they understand and know the value of money. As they get older, consider making them earn their pocket money by doing household tasks in exchange for cash.
When you want your child to succeed in life, it may seem like the best course of action is to sign them up for a heap of extra-curricular activities, particularly once they hit high school. However, piling too much on your kid’s plate can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Find a balance between enforcing proactive measures and allowing them to enjoy their youth.
Endlessly criticizing them
Children need some criticism, allowing them to understand which behavioral patterns are unacceptable. However, endlessly pointing out your child’s flaws without pausing to highlight their strengths will lead to long-term negative effects, including a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Point out the error of their ways, but make sure you also draw attention to their positive actions.
Failing to spend time with them
One of the most important things you can do for your child is to spend time with them. Kids see their parents as a source of stability, comfort, and security. Failing to spend any quality time together can result in these feelings dissipating, resulting in a miserable, anxious child.
Not giving them a sense of independence
While spending time together is important, so is time apart. Constantly smothering your child can lead them relying on you too much, meaning that they’ll struggle when they eventually leave the nest. Allow them to pursue their own hobbies and interests outside of their family, creating their own unique identity.
Forgetting the basics
“Please” and “thank you” are some very powerful words. In the manic midst of raising a child, it can be all too easy to forget the importance of manners. These words are much more than just empty phrases – they teach children the value of things, implementing a sense of gratitude in them at a young age.
Giving in to tantrums
When your kid has a tantrum, it’s important not to give in to their demands. Doing so – even once – can reinforce their behavior, teaching them that acting out eventually leads to them getting their way. Stand firm in your decision, despite the inevitable onslaught of screams and tears.
Ignoring bad behavior
It can be tempting to turn a blind eye to any undesirable behavior, choosing peace over yet another temper tantrum. However, doing so teaches your child that the way they’re acting is acceptable, increasing the likelihood of them repeating it in the future. Always explain to your child the difference between right and wrong, reinforcing the lessons as many times as needed.
If you make a rule, stick to it. There’s little use in backtracking on your word, changing the perimeters for acceptable behavior on the daily. Doing so will only make your child lose faith in your words and opinions, slowly severing the bond of trust.
Trying to make them follow in your footsteps
Although your child may exhibit many personality traits that you see in yourself, they have their own thoughts, goals, and dreams. Don’t push your failed career on your child, willing them to correct the errors you made in your past. Instead, allow them to forge their own path, standing by as a constant source of encouragement.
Taking your emotions out on them
When you’re stressed, juggling being a parent with work, household tasks, and your own mental well-being, it can be easy to snap at your kid when they keep pestering you. Try to practice patience when dealing with your children – lashing out at them can deeply impact their psychological welfare.
Relying on technology
It can be tempting to plonk your toddler down in front of an iPad and call it a day, distracting them while you crack on with the housework. A small dose of screen time doesn’t hurt, but an over-reliance on tech can lead to an anti-social, anxiety-ridden child later down the line.
Neglecting the small moments
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard to remember to stop and pause. As frequently as you can, soak up your quality time between you and your kid – hug them extra tight, enjoy doing projects together, relish in their laughter. Make the most of your child – today’s the youngest they’ll ever be again, after all.
Forcing them to eat
A common parenting technique is forcing children to finish their plate of food before they’re able to leave the table. While this was acceptable once upon a time, nowadays, it’s frowned upon. Studies have shown that forcing your child to eat food they don’t enjoy can lead to eating disorders later down the line.
Giving them too much praise
While it’s encouraged to give your child plenty of praise, you’ve got to be careful not to overdo it. Praising every single thing they do can lead to narcissistic personality traits, with your child having a skewed view of the world where they do no wrong. Don’t be afraid to point out their errors in a calm, constructive manner.
Indulging in lawnmower parenting
This method of upbringing applies to parents who get over-involved in everything their child does, mowing down all obstacles in their kid’s way. While it may be tempting to make life as easy as possible for your child, it deprives them of developing their own critical thinking skills, causing problems later in life.
Treating them like adults
If you’ve got a good, healthy relationship with your child, it can be hard to forget that they aren’t your friend. Avoid treating them like a fully-grown person. Doing so can inadvertently expose them to hefty topics their young minds aren’t ready to embrace, no matter how mature they may seem.
Threatening to leave
When your kid is playing up, refusing to come back to the car after a day at the park, some parents pretend to leave, encouraging them to follow suit. However, threatening to leave your child behind – even in lighthearted ways – can sever your kid’s sense of emotional security, altering your relationship forever.
Lying to them
The easiest and least emotionally harmful option is to sometimes lie to your child. However, kids are intuitive, usually able to discern when the full truth isn’t being told. Frequently lying to your child will, eventually, give them trust issues, meaning they’ll be unable to forge healthy relationships later in life.
Failing to lead by example
“Do what I say, not what I do” is a phrase many parents use when raising their kids. However, psychology argues that this method is ineffective. Children learn by soaking up their environment, replicating everything they experience. If you want your kid to eat broccoli, for example, you’d best start eagerly tucking into the veggies yourself.
Repeating your parents’ mistakes
Just because you were raised a certain way, it doesn’t mean that particular upbringing is applicable to you and your child. Assess your parents’ methods, exploring how their actions influenced the person you are today. If there were any flaws in the way they brought you up, find alternative methods for your own kid, breaking patterns of generational trauma.
When children act in unfavorable ways, many parents react in an explosive manner, being led by their emotions. Apply some context to the situation – if your child is on their best behavior 99% of the time, what’s one minor mishap in the grand scheme of things?
Ignoring your baby’s cries
Some folk believe that you should allow your baby to cry, waiting for their mournful yells to pass. However, modern studies have shown that this method can be harmful. Babies don’t cry for no reason – it’s usually a signal for Mum or Dad to correct something that’s gone amiss.
Neglecting meal times
Studies have shown that families who regularly eat together form healthier, more stable relations. It can be tempting to skimp on dinner time, with everyone’s schedules being all over the place. However, if you can, it’s worthwhile to sit down and eat as a family. Not only can you monitor what your kid is eating, but it guarantees some quality time each and every day.
Failing to recognize your role in their life
Some parents put too much emphasis on their own actions, failing to realize that genes, school, and friendships can also mold their child’s personality. On the flip side, other parents value their place too little – thinking that their child’s choices are out of their hands. Recognize that you’re an important factor in your kids’ life – but you’re not the only influence.
Stopping them from working
When your child turns into a teenager, it can be tempting to prevent them from going out into the big wide world, sheltering them from the arduous prospect of manual labor. However, this strips them of their independence, while hindering their work ethic before it’s even been put into practice.
Always giving them their way
At the end of the day, you’re the parent, and they’re the child. If your child is frequently making demands that you constantly cater to, your kid will be in for a rude awakening in the real world. Set up healthy boundaries with your child – and ensure that you enforce them.
Using gifts for the wrong reasons
Children are easily distracted, and what better way to distract them with a nice, new shiny toy? However, constantly providing your child with presents can enforce negative behavioral patterns. For example, using a new toy as a way to stop a tantrum teaches your kid that acting out gets them what they want – a belief that won’t serve them later in life.
Using derogatory language
Children’s minds are like sponges, soaking up everything they see and hear. Name-calling will likely stick in a child’s mind for the rest of their life, even if the word was used in jest. Calling them “stupid”, “annoying”, or “hard work” will create a subconscious belief that ultimately perpetuates that exact behavior.
Guilt tripping them
In the heat of an argument, many parents use phrases such as “After everything I’ve done for you”. These words have a deeper impact than you may think, as it teaches your child that love is conditional. Not only that, but it may birth an incredible sense of guilt that makes them see themselves as a burden.
Ignoring their emotions
If your child acts out by screaming or throwing things, try not to immediately scold them. Instead, try to communicate with them, explaining that there are better ways to process their feelings. They’re only just experiencing these powerful emotions, after all, unsure of how to navigate them without your guidance.
An unhappy parent makes for an unhappy child. Children are smart, able to pick up on subtle body language clues. No matter how hard you try to hide your symptoms of burnout, your child will notice. Therefore, it’s important that you make time for yourself – having some downtime will make you a better parent in the long run.
Treating siblings differently
Although siblings can have vastly differing personalities, you still need to treat them as equals. Ensure you spend as much time with one child as you do the other, that they always get equal pocket money (age dependent), and that their gifts are on an equal footing, preventing thoughts of resentment and jealousy.
Withholding love as a form of punishment
Just because you’re disciplining your child, it doesn’t mean that you have to withdraw your love. If anything, children need your love the most when they’ve done something unsavory, as their little brains often can’t comprehend why you’re mad at them. Always lead with love, no matter the situation.
Underestimating their intelligence
Just because they’re young, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid. Discussing taboo topics or indulging in arguments in front of your child with a thinly-veiled code is a big no-no, as your child will likely be able to read between the lines. If it’s not safe for their young minds to hear, ensure you speak out of ear shot.
Try your best to avoid using terms like “always” and “never” when speaking with your children. Statements like “you’re always late” have a deep psychological impact on a young mind – with your words embedding themselves deep into their subconscious, resulting in an actual increase in whatever behavior you’ve called out.
Ignoring their need for space
Constantly encroaching on your child’s space will strip them of any sense of independence. Complain about the state of their room by all means, but never take it upon yourself to rummage through their personal belongings or demand to know who they’re texting. They might be your children, but they still deserve to be treated with respect.
Indulging in good cop/bad cop
A phrase many children hear when they’re growing up is “Just wait until your Dad gets home”, striking fear into their hearts. Try to avoid these threats – your child will likely see you as a soft touch, while their relationship with their other parent will likely suffer.
Failing to prepare the night before
Instead of trying to get lunch boxes packed, school uniforms ironed, and breakfasts prepared in a last-minute dash before you do the school run, set aside 30 minutes each evening to do tomorrow’s tasks. Not only will you feel less stressed, but it’ll also provide your kids with a calmer approach to the day ahead.
Asking questions instead of making statements
Sometimes, children need to be told what to do. Instead of asking, “Are you going to do your homework now?”, tell your child that it’s time to tackle their schoolwork. Although there may be an initial outcry, they’ll soon get used to their new routine – as long as you’re consistent.
Failing to engage with their activities
If your child has a passion, it’s your duty as a parent to encourage that passion to grow. No matter how many phases they go through, you should be on the sidelines cheering them along, every step of the way. Being indifferent or apathetic to their interests is a quick way to stifle any dreams.
Dealing with sick days
Sick days are a tricky thing to navigate. Is your child truly sick, or are they trying to avoid the classroom? If they’re trying to get out of attending school, why? Use your intuition paired with open transparency to decide the best course of action to take.
Not focusing on their present
Don’t overwhelm your child with a constant gaze to the future, constantly nagging them about school exams and career prospects. Sometimes, kids need to be allowed to be kids – to have fun with their friends, spend time with their families, and unwind after a tough day at school.
Dealing with bad influences
If your child is spending time with bad influences, it can be a tricky path to navigate. You shouldn’t straight up ban them from spending time with their friend, as this will only create a rebellious streak, nor should you ignore it. Instead, sit your child down and explain to them your concerns about their less-than-savory pal.
Refusing to expand your limits
Remaining consistent with discipline is a good thing. However, as your child grows up, your boundaries need to reflect this change. A failure to do so will result in a rebellious, frustrated teenager, creating a wedge in your relationship. As they grow, grant them more freedom.
Reframing the way you think is an important life skill, children or otherwise. Instead of thinking that your child is being an annoying brat, try to shift the thought and examine why they may be acting out, coming from a place of kindness and empathy.
You take your child’s behavior personally
It’s a fact of life – children are going to lash out at their parents, taking their frustrations out on those who love them the most. Try not to let their sharp words upset you – doing so can lead to eventual guilt trips and grudges. Instead, understand that there’s going to be a few bumps in the road.
Ignoring their diet
Instead of resigning yourself to the fact that your kid straight-up refuses to eat their vegetables – or trying to force them to eat their greens – try and explore more creative methods. Blend them a smoothie, try different veggies, cook a meal with their help, or try a different method of cooking the veggies entirely.
Failing to teach essential life skills
Don’t assume that learning has to stop when your child leaves the classroom. There’s an array of topics that aren’t taught at school, whether it’s how to do a load of washing, how to file your taxes, or how to cook healthy meals. As your child gets older, try to give them the best possible springboard from which they can use to flourish in the real world.
Labeling your child
Try not to confine your child in a metaphorical box. If they’re good at sports, don’t always refer to them as being a “sporty child”. It creates an expectation in their mind that they have to remain good at sports to receive your approval. Instead, give them the room to grow and explore numerous interests.
Being passive aggressive
There’s never a need to be passive aggressive to your child. If you exhibit these behaviors, your kid won’t understand what they’ve actually done wrong, likely filling them with a sense of anxiety. Instead, be upfront and honest about what you expect from your offspring – no matter their age.
Constantly telling them to “go away” or to “stop it” is an easy habit to fall into. Try your best to avoid using these words, as your kid will feel deflated and rejected. Instead, try and be as present as possible with your child – even if it means feigning interest in the same drawing you’ve seen 20 times before.