You often hear of all the ways you can screw up your child, whether it’s from social media or your support system. But we often drop the ball when it’s time for better methods or approaches in how to NOT screw them up. Thankfully, we’ve devised a good list- based on expert opinions.

Raising children isn’t an easy task- there is no refuting that. With so many ways to go wrong, it’s no wonder that there is so much room for mistakes.

With that being said, while mistakes and mishaps along the way are normal and inevitable- when you constantly repeat bad or toxic parenting behaviors, you are setting your child up for a path full of turmoil in their future.

Before that happens- check yourself. Stay aware of your behaviors, and implement the following tips into your parenting to strive to do better than your parents. And if you are dealing with trauma and toxic parenting effects from your past, see a therapist. It will benefit both you and your child.

Here are 7 ways to not screw up your kids.

1. Validate their emotions.

Validation shows your child that they are understood, which is essential for feeling connected and supported. Whilst it’s normal to want to jump in and rescue your child or shoo all of their bad emotions to the side, it isn’t realistic. Validation simply means that you listen, understand what they are saying, and truly care. It’s not agreeing, judging, or correcting their feelings. It simply shows them that it’s okay to feel things.

2. Show them how to set goals.

Teaching a child how to set and reach their goals is so important! Tammy Labor, relationship counselor says “It starts with saying you’ll take them to skate lessons and then following up on their progress, and finally taking them to a skating rink for extra practice… We do the same thing with adults (who are trying to pay down debt, for example.) There’s no reason why you can’t do this with your kids.”

3. Separate identities from behaviors.

Parents often label their children with their behaviors. If they notice their child being lazy, they will say “You are lazy,” not “You are acting lazy lately- what’s going on?” When you do this, you are setting them up to align themselves with negative behavior and identify with it, rather than showing them how to beat the bad behaviors. Rather than identifying them as the behavior, talk to them and help them work on the behavior.

4. Love them, unconditionally.

When you say, “I love you,” it shouldn’t come with conditions. It means that no matter what, you will always love them. There will be times when you don’t necessarily agree with the way your child is acting, or what they think or believe- but when you love someone unconditionally you don’t love who you want them to be, you love who they are.

5. Listen to them.

Put down your devices, step away from work, and truly listen to your children. Listen to them with no ulterior motive, and with genuine interest. Don’t judge or analyze them. The best relationships are built on trust, and when you listen to your children, you establish trust with them.

6. Allow them to make mistakes.

No one is perfect. No one. Don’t expect your child to be perfect, and while you don’t want them to struggle or fail, mistakes are important. Mistakes show your child how to do things differently, and if you turn their mistakes into lessons to use to keep pushing towards their goals, they will be unstoppable.

7. Set an example by being present.

Parenting expert Julie Romanowski says, “Be aware of how you are around your kids.” The smallest things you do will ultimately impact your child. Do you want to teach your child how to communicate with love and kindness? Then do that. Be about it- don’t just talk about it!

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