11 Unhealthy Parenting Habits That Can Damage Kids For A Lifetime
Having a child is a truly life-changing experience. It shifts your whole life focus and gives you an entirely new perspective. Suddenly, you realize the huge responsibility you have to shape this kid's life. You know that the impact you make could set your child on either a positive or negative path for the rest of their life! Most parents truly want to be good influences on their kids. But figuring out how to accomplish that task can be a challenge.
Though no two children are alike, there are certain guiding principles for parenting that can benefit any kid. There are also some major mistakes that should be avoided. The following list gives some prime examples of the types of unhealthy parenting habits that you should avoid if you want to have a positive long-term impact on your kid's life.
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1. Not Showing or Expecting Respect for Personal Space
Some parents don't expect their children to respect the parent's personal space. Other parents don't show any respect for their children's personal space. Some parents fail in both of these areas. Both extremes are unhealthy and don't teach kids what they need to know about boundaries.
Not respecting personal space means feeling like you can walk into the kid's room at any time unannounced. Or allowing them to do the same to you. It's important to teach kids that they need to knock on doors. You can, and should, even have areas of the home that the kids know are off limits. These could be areas where they would be invading your privacy, such as where you store marital items. They need to know that it's important for them to mind their own business.
Let them know that they can also have personal space. You don't have to be constantly hanging over their shoulder watching what they're doing at all times. Though supervision and involvement is very important, they need to know that they can spend time in their room alone and you'll knock politely on the door. Lead by example in teaching about respect and healthy boundaries.
2. A Lack of Encouragement and Praise
Many parents who consider themselves to be "old school" believe that parenting should involve lots of harsh discipline. They rely primarily on punishment to get their kids to stay in line. While these tactics may bring outward obedience, they're not enough to build the kind of strong bonding that makes for a healthy long-term parent-child relationship.
Besides correction, kids need lots of encouragement. Many children who don't get the affirmation and praise they need and deserve for a job well done end up feeling unhappy and insecure. They feel like they always have to try to win your approval and they can never quite reach that goal.
So learn to tell the difference between rebellious behavior that needs to be punished and foolish little mistakes that all children make. When a kid makes a mistake, offer them encouragement that you know they'll do better next time. They need to know that failing in some way doesn't mean that they're a complete failure at life. And don't forget to praise them when they succeed!
3. Having a Critical Attitude Towards Your Child
This point is the flip side of the last point. Parents who withhold encouragement and praise naturally fall into the habity of being overly critical of their children. These kids end up feeling completely defeated. They grow up thinking they'll never amount to anything and can't do anything right.
Next time you find yourself jumping all over your child because of some small thing, take a minute to think. Is this issue really worth crushing their spirit over? If you do need to correct them, try to do it gently and kindly, the way you'd want someone to confront you about a problem in your own life. And you should speak positive words to them at least twice as often as you do negative words.
4. Inconsistency in Enforcing Rules
When you establish rules in your home, it's very important that your kid knows that you expect them to be obeyed. If you fail to consistently give your kid consequences for breaking the rules, you're setting them up for a life of not respecting rules outside the home. This can lead to delinquency and disaster later in life.
So when you decide on a rule, such as being home at a certain time, let your kid know upfront what the consequence will be if they break the rule. Then simply follow through with the punishment every time the rule is broken. If you don't, you'll be sending mixed messages and teaching your kid that they can manipulate you into not enforcing the rules. As hard as it is sometimes, it's important to stand your ground and be consistent. They'll most likely thank you for it when they reach adulthood!
5. Smothering Your Child
It's wonderful to be the kind of parent that loves spending time with your child. But even this type of bonding with a kid can be taken to an unhealthy extreme. No child likes to feel completely smothered by their parents.
When your kids are little it's normal for them to spend much of their time with parents. As they grow up, you need to allow them to have a bit more independence. It's okay to let them go on outings with friends whose parents you feel comfortable with or let them get involved in sports and activities. Having some space will help them to learn crucial decision-making skills they will need as adults.
Not smothering kids doesn't just apply to spending too much social time with them. It also applies to teaching them independence in things like grooming, schoolwork, and household chores. You don't want to wind up with a teen who can't think for themselves or figure out how to do anything on their own.
6. Waiting on Your Kids Hand and Foot
A parent's ultimate goal is to teach their kid to be a well-rounded, independent adult someday. That won't happen overnight. And it will never happen if you continually take care of all your child's needs from the time they're a baby until they go off to college.
If your kid doesn't know how to make macaroni and cheese or do laundry their Freshman year away at school, that's a problem. As kids get older, they'll build self-confidence by learning to do practical things like drive a car, mow the lawn, do their own laundry, and cook. They don't have to be gourmet chefs, but they should at least know how to survive without you being around for a few meals.
Don't fall into the bad habit of treating your kids like toddlers who need everything done for them for the rest of their lives. If you do, don't be surprised if they end up living in your basement long-term as adults.
7. Bullying Your Kids
Some parents feel like the only way they can get their kids to obey is to make them afraid. These parents will resort to threatening, screaming, and doing whatever they need to do to intimidate their kids into compliance. The results of such tactics are disastrous.
Parents who bully their kids probably will not have good long-term relationships with them when they become adults. Their kids will be afraid to come to them to talk about problems because they think they'll face ridicule or worse.
There's a difference between being fair and meting out deserved discipline and being mean or cruel. Don't treat your kids like a bully on the playground. Show them love, affection, and common courtesy, even when they screw up.
8. Hovering over Your Kids
This parenting style, known as the "helicopter" parenting style, is extremely common in today's society. Unfortunately, it's creating a lot of spoiled, entitled kids who run to their parents at the first sign that they won't get their way. No one wants to be around kids who have been raised like that. So as a parent, it's your job to see to it that your kids aren't raised like that!
Hovering parents are the ones who are always trying to pull strings to make sure their precious child gets to play in the big game, gets the lead part in the play, or doesn't get in trouble when they've broken the rules. Don't be that parent. Your desire to shield them from consequences for wrong behavior or to make life artificially easy for them is bound to backfire when they get out into the real world someday.
9. Not Paying Attention to Your Kids
We live in a very distracted age. Technology has taken a real toll on personal realtionships. Don't let your phone, or your work, or your own hobbies, take over your life so much that you don't take time to pay attention to your kids.
When they want to talk to you, give them your full attention unless you really need to get something else done at the moment. If you do have a pressing matter to attend to, let them know that as soon as you get done you want to hear what they have to say.
Some of the things that interest you child may seem boring or unimportant to you. That's normal. But you have to let them know that you want to hear what they're saying because you consider them important.
When your child is chattering away about what seems like trivial nonsense, they just may decide to ask a really vital question or open up to you about something that's been bothering them. But if you're too absorbed in your own life to listen to them, they'll soon decide that you aren't really interested in their life and they'll most likely start confiding in someone else besides you.
10. Parenting The Lazy Way
Many parents are downright lazy when it comes to raising their kids. They don't bother with trying to make nutritious meals. Fast food and pizza are the norm. They don't care about spending quality time together. Instead, they let the television or tablet serve as a babysitter.
This kind of auto-pilot parenting ends up producing lazy, antisocial kids who don't know how to do anything. It can also cause them to become obese and not develop good hygiene habits. It can cause them to struggle in school if you're too lazy to help them with homework. So step up and do your job as a parent rather than taking the path of least resistance and letting your kid suffer from neglect.
11. Failing to be an Authority Figure
Many parents feel more comfortable being a buddy or older sibling rather than playing a parental role in their kid's life. They don't want the pressure of their kid getting mad when they won't let them do whatever they want to do. So they continuously give in and go along with their child's wishes.
The truth is, in the long run, kids resent parents not stepping up to the plate and giving them some much-needed structure. Kids don't really know what's best for them much of the time. When they feel like you're not going to give them any direction, they'll end up feeling lost and unsure of where to turn for instruction.
It's normal for kids, especially when they become teens, to fuss about how "strict" you are just for enforcing reasonable rules. Don't give in to the pressure to cave in to their demands. Patiently and firmly continue to be the parent rather than seek for their approval as a friend. In the long run, they'll most likely be grateful that you were willing to stand up to them and tell them what they needed to hear instead of what they wanted to hear.
Hopefully, that list gives you a heads up about some common parenting mistakes you can try to avoid. You'll never be a perfect parent, and that's okay. But trying to do better is a worthy goal and one that will give your kids a real advantage in life.
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