8 Ways to Recognize That You Might Be a Toxic Parent
According to this study, psychological abuse from parents is related to mental health problems in their children when they grow up. Creating a toxic home environment, where your kids should feel safe and at peace, could damage them in the long term. Recognizing it is the first step in knowing how to avoid it now and in the future.
Bright Side believes that we as parents never stop learning when it comes to getting better at this very demanding job. So we hope that you will learn something new that could potentially help you to have a more peaceful home.
1. Comparing your kids to each other
As a parent, it’s impossible not to notice differences in your children’s behavior, temperament, and even mindset in general. However, according to parenting expert Dr. Justin Coulson, it’s best to avoid that. Children who are constantly compared to their siblings will base their self-worth on it, which might undermine it, as well as reduce motivation and increase anxiety, which could affect how the kid tackles anything in life.
2. Burdening your kids with your problems
We all have our personal problems, and they might be extra hard to handle if we also have children to take care of. It’s good to talk to them and show them a healthy way of expressing emotions, but we should avoid burdening them with our own personal “stuff.” It can create a strange dynamic where the child can become the parent or friend. We shouldn’t turn to our kids for emotional help and let them just be kids.
3. Taking out frustrations on your kids
We should never take our frustration out on someone who doesn’t deserve it, especially if they’re not the reason for it, and especially if they’re our kids. We shouldn’t make our children feel like something that isn’t their fault is their fault. Instead, we should recognize our emotions and the reason behind them and give ourselves some space and time to calm down.
4. Dismissing your kids’ feelings
“You will be fine,” is a very popular response we use when we want to reassure our child. It might seem good to say, but it’s actually not. We have to learn to stop dismissing our kids’ feelings and instead accept them, talk about them, and offer solutions to their problems, as small as they may seem. We can’t forget that the emotions they feel are real, and sometimes they need more than just you saying, “It’s okay.”
5. Choosing punishment over teachable moments
Oftentimes, punishment is the easiest way to handle a mischievous child, as parents think that it’s what they’re supposed to do. But in a lot of cases, that only reinforces the bad behavior, and it doesn’t correct it. Instead, parents should try to turn bad behavior into teachable moments. That way, the child can learn why it’s wrong. We should also offer positive reinforcement when children are being good.
6. Constantly criticizing your kids
When we criticize our children too often, that would hurt them in more ways than one. A study shows that children who have critical parents pay less attention to others’ emotions. That limits their capacity to read people, which is a very important skill for building and maintaining relationships.
7. Using negative words to describe them or their actions
The more we use negative words with children, the more their self-esteem suffers. They can be highly destructive and affect their behavior and how they see and feel about themselves. Calling them “shy,” “messy,” a “crybaby,” “annoying,” “stubborn,” and beyond could have a serious negative impact on them, even at a very young age.
8. Not knowing boundaries and stifling their independence
Not allowing your children to be independent individuals could cause a very toxic atmosphere. Trying to know everything about your child’s life, discouraging your child to follow their own path, and constantly intruding on their personal space are clear signs of enmeshment. That could leave your child without a strong sense of who they are, lacking individualization and the ability to resolve conflict.
Do remember experiencing any of these toxic things as a kid? Are you also a little guilty of some of them yourself?