10 Signs of Bad Parenting We Fall Into Without Even Knowing It

Most parenting mistakes are usually made for the sake of love. Parents may often think that they’re helping their children to develop and grow (sometimes even through punishment). But the long-term results in the form of depression, anxiety, or cancer, for example, show that something went wrong back there. But if you recognize what you are doing wrong, there is still a chance to raise a new generation of wise and happy people.

As you may already know, the Bright Side’s noble mission is to make our world a better place. That’s why we’ve discovered 10 mistakes parents should avoid. And if you believe ordinary people more than scientists, we’ve prepared a bonus section just for you.

10. Helicopter parents can leave their children without friends.

When studying helicopter parenting, scientists of the American Psychological Association noted that such parents tended to constantly guide their children by telling them what to do and how to do it. Of course, it’s normal for parents to do their best to keep their kids healthy and safe. But children will not learn how to manage their feelings and emotions without having space to grow. Such parenting will only cause problems with social adaptation, making friends, and analyzing behavior.

If making a social misfit out of your children is not your primary goal, you need to be sensitive to their needs. When you notice that they are capable of managing the situation without your help, let them do it. You can guide them through tough times but avoid having the upper hand. Talk to them about their feelings and emotions and share some positive stress coping strategies.

9. Spanking in the name of discipline can lead to respiratory problems.

There is a belief that physical force helps parents discipline their children. And a lot of people not only agree with this but actively use this method. For example, the results of a 2012 survey show that 94% of parents regularly spank their children. This myth has to be busted as science tells a different story.

Specialists say that physical abuse can lead to different negative outcomes we least expect. Antisocial actions, psychological disorders, and drug and alcohol dependence are just some examples of behavioral problems that can occur. There is also a mention of a higher risk of cancer, cardiac disease, and the development of asthma. If you wonder what techniques work more effectively and will boost a child’s self-esteem, try some firm, reasonable, and nurturing communication,— scientists will applaud you.

8. Comparing is the key to low self-worth.

Have your parents ever compared you with someone? “Jack is so obedient, but you’re not!” or “Emily can count to 100 while you can hardly say what goes after 10.” They might think that such analogies can motivate kids to be better. But we don’t believe this to be true.

Psychologists ask us not to repeat this mistake and explain why such behavior is harmful. It turns out that comparing one to others lowers self-esteem and self-worth in a child. It can also create a gap between you and your kids as they constantly feel insecure and lose their trust in you. They need your absolute love and support in any situation, so it is better not to show that they let you down, but to talk about the problem instead.

7. Inconsistent parenting leads to a vulnerable child.

One day you ask your children to clean up their toys, and the next day you do it yourself without saying a word. Yesterday you were in a bad mood and punished the kids for cracking an innocent joke, but today you feel wonderful and let them do whatever they want the whole day. When a mother is frowning, the father is smiling. These are just some of the examples of an unstable environment that makes kids wonder if they’re doing what parents expect of them or not.

Scientists say that such uncertainty may negatively impact self-esteem development and increase depression and anxiety vulnerability. That’s why it is always better to have some rules and set limits. They will help children understand what is coming and how to react to it.

6. The more you yell, the worse a kid’s behavior is.

Imagine that your children are misbehaving. You asked them to calm down once, twice, or three times and then explode. Yelling is actually an effective method that helps us get rid of boiling emotions within seconds. And some parents believe that screaming is a good way to solve the problem right then and there. But have you ever wondered about the consequences of such a parenting style?

Let’s see what scientists have to say about it. To begin with, yelling can make your child’s behavior even worse. It also leads to anxiety and depression and can even cause chronic pain. We believe that this is not something you wish your kids would have. And it’s never too late to adopt new parenting methods that will help your children grow and thrive.

5. Excessively high expectations will never make children perfect.

We believe that there are no parents who want their child to become a failure. And having high hopes actually motivates kids to perform better. But only up to the point when our expectations turn into unrealistic goals. And it is crucial to be able to identify this change as it leads to illnesses and causes different disorders like insomnia, tantrums, fatigue, or anxiety.

Ryan Hong, a scientist of the National University of Singapore, explains, “Children become fearful of making mistakes when their parents expect them to be perfect.” Take some time and think if there are any ways you push your child harder than they really need.

4. Wonder why your child is so bad? Look at yourself.

There’s a good saying, “You reap what you sow.” And it totally reflects a parent-child relationship. Studies confirm that children absorb values from their parents more than from anyone else. And they also copy their behavioral models. So, if the child spends most of the time with you and you wonder where he or she learned “those bad words,” pay attention to yourself.

If you are afraid that society is the main source of impact, specialists can reassure you. School, friends, and other additional activities children are engaged in can be helpful in the process of their personal development. But their primary function is to bolster the knowledge and values they have received at home.

3. Scaring tactics aren’t effective.

Sometimes parents scare their children to make them behave. “If you don’t stop, I am going to give you to this man and he will lock you up!” This tactic can work pretty well. Then why don’t psychologists recommend using it?

Scientists explain that fear uses the lower levels of our brain, so children are not able to think about their behavior when they’re scared. They will also be afraid of policemen, doctors, and other people their parents use for this purpose. Moreover, they will scare more as their brain learns to be scared quickly. It is better to find other ways with a more beneficial outcome to discipline your children.

2. Avoiding uncomfortable topics that can turn you into a grandparent too soon

Some parents tend to avoid discussing sex-related issues with their teen children. They note that they don’t have enough skills or age-appropriate vocabulary to cover such an awkward topic. They also hope that their children will be able to learn about it in school or from friends. We believe that this is irresponsible behavior, and science confirms this.

According to this research, it really matters if parents discuss sex with their children. For example, teens are more likely to have experience later on and use birth control if this issue isn’t ignored in their families. Both parties can be equally nervous, and this is totally normal.

1. Saying, “you’re 1 in a million” is the cause of arrogance.

Do you happen to tell your children that they are special or that the whole world is for their pleasure? You believe that this will raise your kids’ confidence and self-esteem. But specialists warn us that this can lead to unexpected results.

Brad Bushman, co-author of the study, highlights, “It is important to express warmth to your children because that may promote self-esteem, but overvaluing them may promote higher narcissism.” That’s why it is essential to find a balance between these points.

Bonus: If your child is lying, it might mean you’ve overreacted to their mistakes in the past.

Children can lie for lots of reasons. They might seek attention or just want to check your reactions to their lies. And psychologists confirm that this is a natural step in their development.

But if you’re likely to overreact to your kids’ mistakes or failures they might use lies to not get in trouble again. Check this Reddit thread and find out how many people confirm this idea. Remember your reactions in similar cases, correct your behavior, and encourage your child to tell the truth. Open communication is the key to a healthy parent-child relationship.

In what points of this article did you recognize yourself or your friends? Share this article with people who, in your opinion, need to know this information.

Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for Bright Side
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