As parents, every step is a learning curve, and you need to make sure you are doing the best you can for your kids. Coming up with ideas to help you parent better is important, and one of the focal points of this is understanding the key things you should never do to your teen kids; here’s what the experts advise against.
1. Using self-loathing language
This is a big one, and one that a lot of parents don’t understand is problematic. Parents need to lead by example, and teach by demonstration, and this is going to set a negative precedent for your impressionable teen children. Try to focus on greater positivity, so you can pass this onto your kids.
2. Discussing worries about adult responsibilities
Another thing you need to be careful to avoid is talking to your child about the worries you have regarding parental responsibilities. This could be things like money worries or health concerns and all, unless absolutely vital in that moment, are best avoided. You don’t want to pass these worries onto your teen, so be sure you avoid these topics with them.
3. Expressing regret
We’re sure you would never do this anyway, but one of the things you need to keep in mind is making sure you never express regret or disappointment at your child being there. Instead, you need to focus on using more empowering language and making sure your children feel loved, wanted, and confident.
4. Talking negatively about mom or dad
If you have split from your partner, it is understandable that there might be friction or even resentment. However, talking negatively about your child’s other parent is ill-advised, as this can harm their relationship with that parent, as well as making them worry that they also have those negative traits.
5. Telling them how to feel
This is one of the things that a lot of parents overlook as a negative, and it’s something that can have a profound impact on your teen. At the end of the day, human beings do things differently, and letting your kids know that it’s okay not to be okay is essential. This is something that might take some work but it’s well worth doing.
6. Comparing them to others
One of the worst things you can do here is to compare your children with others, as this has the potential to give them a complex and make them think they aren’t good enough. On the reverse, if you are comparing from the point of them being better, this can lead to entitlement and disrespect, so it is important to try to avoid this where possible.
Some stereotypes can be harmful to kids, especially those figuring out their identities, and who might be struggling with conformity. Stereotypical beliefs can prevent kids from expressing themselves, or from being able to speak out when bad things happen to them. Instead, make sure you are more patient and understanding with them.
8. Blanket praise
Praise is a positive thing, and you should be encouraged to praising your children in order to help bolster their confidence and self-esteem. However, one of the things that you need to avoid is blanket praise, where you simply give them praise for nothing or constantly call them ‘perfect’, as it can actually be bad for long-term growth.
Arguments are part and parcel of living together and they will even happen in daily family life. However, you need to be careful, and make sure you aren’t arguing or raising your voice too much, as this can cause your kids to grow up with elevated stress levels and higher blood pressure. So make sure you try to avoid arguments, or at least make them as pleasant as possible.
10. Criticising appearance
Whether you’re criticising your own appearance or someone else’s, this is something that can have a negative impact on your kids. Positive body image is more important than it has ever been, and making sure your child is happy and content with who they are is one of the key parts of parenting.
11. Be too strict
Being too strict is something that is definitely not advisable for parents, especially with teenagers. The need to want to look after and protect them is strong but, by being too strict, you are more likely to cause them to rebel and act out, and this is going to cause more issues than were there initially. Strict parents just raise sneaky kids!
12. Be too lenient
On the flip side, being too lenient can also be problematic for you kids as well. Children need to have leadership and they need direction, and this is something you have to provide. Additionally, being overly lenient can lead to a lot of issues by making your children more vulnerable to situations they need to be protected from.
13. Lack of quality time
Kids grow up so fast, and the day might come when they don’t want to spend much time with you. It is important to make sure you spend quality time with your kids as much as you can, and this is something you need to work on better. Put your phone away and make time to hang with your kid, even if it’s just for 20 minutes per day.
14. Name calling
Name calling is also a big no-no, as this is going to give your kid a complex. This is particularly a problem when your child is a teenager and is older enough to understand what particular words mean. They are likely to internalize these negative names, and it could wind up bringing down their self-esteem.
15. Being a poor role model
The “Do as I say, not as I do” approach is not one that is recommended with teen kids. You need to be setting a good example, and being the best possible role model. If you are doing things but not allowing your kid to do them, they might not understand why, and will feel the situation is unfair, and they’re likely to act out as a result.
16. No supervision
Whilst it’s true that your teen needs to be given a degree of freedom, you also need to make sure you are supervising to a degree too. Making sure you check on your kid, what they are doing, and with whom (whilst also avoiding being a helicopter parent) is essential, and this can improve your child’s decision-making process.
17. Only noticing when they do wrong
Children want attention from their parents, even when they are teens, and if they can’t get it they will act out. If your kids are only getting attention from you when they do things wrong, this may cause them to act out more because they know they will get a response from you as a result.
18. Ignoring their mental health issues
Being a teenager is hard, and can be much more challenging than we remember it being. With things like social media more prominent than ever these days, kids are at high-risk from things like mental health. Being attend to this can help them to deal with the problem, and see a positive improvement in life.
19. Not taking care of yourself
As a parent, it can be easy to overlook the importance of taking care of yourself. Putting your kids first is natural, but you also need to make sure you are looking after yourself well enough to be able to take care of your kids effectively. This is something that we can all work on, and boosting mental and physical well-being is a really important part of this.
20. Ignoring the big stuff
Whilst burdening your child with your money worries is not a good idea, it’s important to understand that your kid is going to have questions and queries, and these need to be addressed honestly and carefully. You also need to be aware of what is happening in your child’s life, who they hang around with, and what new habits they might have picked up.
21. Expecting the worst
Having worries and concerns about your children is perfectly natural, but this is something that you need to try to work on. Teenagers have a bad rap but, mostly, if you raise them well, they will be able to make sensible and balanced decisions. Try to avoid negative expectations and sheltering them too much, as this can lead to the kind of behavior you’re keen to avoid.
22. Too much noise
What we mean by this is reading too many parenting books and absorbing all kinds of conflicting advice. This can be confusing to you, and might lead you to take inconsistent steps as a parent. Children don’t work on a one-size-fits all approach, and this means you need to cater to your child’s needs and personalities.
23. Worrying about little things
It’s a common tendency from parents to fixate on the small stuff, and this is going to have a negative impact on your child’s ability to enjoy learning opportunities. Whether you have an issue with their haircut, clothing choices, or the new hobby they are doing, you need to be balanced and measured in how you approach this.
24. Threatening to leave them behind
Look, we all say things in anger that we don’t mean, but it is important to make sure you avoid this where possible with your teen. Comments that might seem throwaway to you, such as “I’ll walk away and leave you here” will actually impact your kids more than you think, and could wind up causing abandonment issues.
25. Lying to your child
Okay, sometimes, white lies are okay and, as it happens, necessary… but lying is not something you should make a habit of. This is even more the case when your child is a teenager; it can distort reality, as well as giving them trust issues if they discover you have lied. Just make sure your explanation of the truth is age-appropriate, of course!
26. Ignoring your own bad behavior
This is along the similar lines of being a poor role model. Children absorb everything that happens around them, and they will be looking to you for the right kind of behavior. Behaving poorly yourself is one thing, but ignoring and not addressing this behavior is also bad as it makes your kids think it’s okay for them to do the same.
27. Assuming your kid will all respond to the same approach
Children are individuals and teenagers, in particular, are constantly pushing boundaries to find out what works for them. This is why you should not assume that, just because your approached worked for kid number one, the same thing will work for their younger sibling. You have to switch things up and tailor your parenting to the specific personalities of your children.
One of the biggest issues that parents encounter is their tendency to overreact when their child breaks a rule. It is important to remember that the lesson and outcome here is more important. Your kid playing a violent video game might worry you, but the importance here is in dealing with this in a constructive way, and ensuring your child learns from the experience.
29. Punishing your child too much for acting out
When kids are younger, they are going to act out more and you should be much more lenient with them, especially when they don’t know better. When they are teens, you should still expect some push back and this is okay, within reason. Yes, some behavior needs to be punished but you have to understand the context. Punishing your kid too much can have negative results.
30. Being your child’s friend and not their parent
Parents want to be liked by their kids, so they are likely to try to slip into the friend role as opposed to the parenting one. This is something you need to try to avoid because, to set a good example and be someone who can set boundaries, you need to be a parent and not a peer. This can be hard to master but it’s something you need to work on.
31. Giving them too much junk food
A poor diet is something that can have a lot of long-term negative health impacts and this is something you need to nip in the bud ASAP. Too many parents are giving their kids too much by way of junk food, which sets poor eating habits and is more likely to result in them having long-term health issues.
32. Skipping family mealtimes
Family mealtimes are the backbone of a healthy and happy family, and it provides important bonding time for parents and kids. This might be the only time of the day when you can all be together to talk about your day and how you’re feeling, and you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this in your teen’s life.
33. Driving everywhere
Your kid needs to know the importance of physical activity as much as possible, and this means you need to avoid driving everywhere if you don’t have to. Humans are means to be moving, and this is a good way of keeping you and your child healthy, encouraging them to walk and reducing their reliance on the car.
34. Trying to do it all yourself
Raising kids is hard, and there are a lot of challenges and responsibilities that you need to contend with. One of the mistakes a lot of parents make is thinking that they bear sole responsibility for raising their child. Not every single thing you do will have a profound impact on you child’s life, so it is important not to obsess over this.
35. Assuming there’s only one approach to parenting
It is easy to assume there is only one approach to parenting, and this can make you inflexible, as well as bringing us back to the problem that not everything works with every child. You need to be aware of you and your child’s temperaments, and how they interact, and what you can do to minimize friction by taking a malleable approach to parenting.
36. Not letting them fail
Wanting to protect your children from failure is a natural approach to take as a parent, but failure is actually an important learning curve for kids. They need to experience failure to understand the journey to success, as well as realizing that it’s perfectly okay to fail, and this is a normal things that should be expected in life.
37. Minimizing their feelings
Yes, you are the parent and you know best but that shouldn’t negate your child’s feelings on particular issues. Being able to sympathize with how they are feeling is important, and you need to avoid minimizing their feelings. Instead, speak to them about how they feel and what you can do to make things better.
38. Spoiling them
This is one of the biggest mistakes parents make with their kids. The problem with overindulging your kids is that they don’t develop mental fortitude or self-discipline. It’s vital that kids understand they can achieve what they want provided they work hard for it and earn it, and this can be achieved via clear rules for things.
39. Expecting perfection
Whilst it is fine to push your kids and to want big things from them, you also need to make sure you don’t expect perfection. Setting the bar too high for your children can cause them to develop a complex, as well as leading to self-esteem issues later in life. Realistic expectations are key in life, and this is important for development.
40. Making sure they never feel uncomfortable
In fact, you will find that being uncomfortable is a pretty natural part of life, and your kids will encounter situations where they feel uncomfortable. But these are important for improving resolve and boosting mental strength. Don’t be afraid to expose them to these kinds of situations, as it can be character building.