When it comes to parenting, a lot of the time, we think that as long as we aren’t doing something with bad intentions (abuse) to our kids, they will turn out fine. And while it’s good to approach parenting with the best intentions – you still have to be aware of the fact that no matter how well-intentioned you are, you could still be doing the wrong thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you as a person or a parent are inherently wrong. But, what I am saying is that as a species, there is always room for growth. Every few years, we realize new insights about psychology, parenting, and various other aspects of human behavior that show us how we can change for the better. For example, we are learning more and more about how beneficial it is to focus on emotional management for our development and socialization later in life. Once upon a time, parents shunned their children for displaying emotions. Now, science is showing that is the worse thing to do.
Approach parenting with an open mind. Be open to learning and change. And stay aware of yourself and your parenting habits. With that in mind, here are 9 damaging parenting habits to look out for.
Shaming is one of those things that is passed down generationally. We see our parents and hear our parents shaming us as we grow up, and perhaps there was a time in which they shamed us and the shaming caused us so much pain and guilt that we ended up listening to what they said in some weird way, it benefited us. But, those benefits do not come without a cost. Shaming your child causes them unnecessary anxiety, plummets their self-esteem, and hurts them emotionally. You don’t need to shame to teach, there are many other better ways.
2. Withdrawing affection and attention.
Our kids are born into this world with very few primal needs: the first is for us to love them, bond with them, and make them feel secure and safe (through affection) and the other is food. (There are other needs, of course, but when it comes down to it, these are the primary needs.) When you withhold affection, your child’s first thought is that there is something inherently wrong with them on a fundamental level. Your intention might be to teach them something, but the only thing you are teaching them is that love is conditional, and it should not be,
3. Not setting limits.
Children need limits. When you allow your child to do whatever they want and have no rules, no structure, no boundaries, and no discipline, you are setting them up for failure in life. Not only will they not function in a world that is full of limits, but they will also end up extremely dependent on you. And I hate to say it, but there will be a day when you are not around and when that day comes, your child will be helpless. Teach them limits now, to prepare them to survive without you. Parenting is the only job that you want to work your way out of. You want to do so well that one day they won’t need you anymore.
4. Using intimidation.
This is yet another generational thing that I honestly hope goes away with new parents who learn to break generational curses. It’s not healthy for your child to be afraid of you. Not only does it break their bond with you, thus making them fearful of others, but intimidation also doesn’t teach. It only shows them that they should be fearful and careful of YOU and others, if your intention is for them to learn from intimidation, you are always going to come up dry or teach them the wrong lesson with this habit.
5. Not allowing your child to make mistakes.
Mistakes are part of life. When we make mistakes, we learn how to overcome hurdles and struggles, and we get better and better. Failure is a state of mind, and if you want your child to have a growth mindset, they need to be able to make mistakes. It might be hard to watch them fail sometimes, but if you swoop in to save them every time, they will never be able to survive without you. Or, it’s going to be difficult.
6. Over-complimenting your child.
This one may sound odd. But hear me out. It’s okay to tell your child how amazing they are or tell them how much you love them or praise them for good behavior. It’s okay to compliment your kids, but make it mean something. If you compliment every move they make, they will begin to lose their value. It will end up causing them to rely on others for validation.
7. Expecting them to be perfect.
No one is perfect. No one. And when you expect perfection from your child, you are going to end up disappointed, and not only that, you are going to destroy their sense of self. Each time your child doesn’t meet your expectations, and you push them to do more or express that you are disappointed, they are going to internalize that. In turn, they are going to feel worthless, or as though they can never be good enough. It’s okay to encourage your child to be the best version of themselves that they can be. But don’t hold them to unreachable standards.
8. Do as I say, not as I do mentality.
A lot of parents say “Do as I say, not as I do,” with their kids. But, the thing is, reality doesn’t work like that. Your kids are going to follow your lead, and they pay attention to your actions far more than your words.
9. Comparing or criticizing.
When you are constantly comparing your child to others, or criticizing them, you are telling them that they are not enough. That might not be what you are saying verbatum, but what they hear is that they aren’t up to your standards. You might not realize it, but that is extremely damaging.