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There is no such thing as a perfect parent, there just isn’t. However, that is not to say that you can’t try to be the best parent you can be.

Part of being the best parent you can involve staying educated, self-aware, and open-minded to the fact that the way you have been conditioned to parent may not be the best way for your situation. A lot of times, we grow up in situations or with parents that (much like anyone else) made some major mistakes. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing those mistakes, we may not realize how bad they are and continue to repeat those bad behaviors.

You can have the best intentions and still end up harming your kids. I know that might sound counter-intuitive, but think of it this way: for years, people did not realize how important emotional health was. In previous decades, a child who had been severely traumatized would have been told to ‘suck it up,’ because it was thought that this would ‘toughen’ them up and help them deal with their trauma. Now, we know that without a shadow of a doubt, repressing trauma only makes it so much worse.

We learn something new about parenting and psychology every day, so the best way to be the best parent you can be is to stay open-minded and informed. Here are 7 parenting mistakes that could harm your child’s mental health, even if you have the best of intentions.

1. You compare them to other kids.

It might seem innocent enough to say, “You should be more like your sister, she is so responsible and such a good kid,” but the thing is kids, take these things to heart. She doesn’t hear that she is a good kid that should aspire to be just like her sister, who is also good. What she hears is that she isn’t enough.

2. You keep them too sheltered.

It might seem like a good idea to isolate your child from the world. And I am not saying that you shouldn’t protect your child. The difference is, that you shouldn’t isolate your child and keep them in a bubble, never allowing them to experience life, nurture their independence, and grow. If you do so, one day your child will have to take on the world all on their own, and they will not be equipped to do so.

3. You are their friend, not their parent.

You can be your child’s parent and friend, but it’s best to steer away from just being their friend. Allowing them to do what they want, and never setting rules and limits, is not going to help them in any way. Because in the real world, there are rules, people have boundaries, and you can’t just do whatever you want, because you want to.

4. You lack boundaries.

Parents without boundaries will either allow their kids to rule over them, or they will invite their kids into their adult problems. Both are anything but beneficial to the child. For example, a parent without boundaries may discuss their sex life with their child. Or, they may discuss the fight they just had with their child’s father over money. I won’t discourage being honest, but there are some things your child does not need to know because they don’t understand and have no control. You are only going to make them anxious.

5. You are a helicopter parent.

Helicopter parents hover over their child’s every move, waiting for them to fall or get dirty, so they can swoop in and save the day. The intention is usually good, but the result of this style of parenting is NOT. Studies have shown that parents with this specific parenting style raise anxious and dependent children who do not thrive well on their own.

6. You excessively punish your child.

There is nothing wrong with punishment. However, if you are punishing your child out of fear or anger, you are punishing them for the wrong reasons, and your emotional reaction will leach through the punishment. Remember, your kids are human beings. Studies show that excessive use of force and spanking with kids ultimately causes them to be more violent towards others and even with themselves.

7. You invalidate their emotions.

Emotional invalidation happens when your child is crying, and you tell them, “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about,” or, “Stop crying, you’re fine,” or “Stop being such a girl, little boys don’t cry.” This type of behavior will only make your child fearful of emotions. In turn, they will spend the rest of their lives repressing their emotions and avoiding them through addictions and other bad coping skills.