No one wants to believe they are a toxic individual, and no one wants to believe they are toxic to their children. However, without even realizing it, there are behaviors we may have that do far more damage than we realize.

None of us are perfect, children don’t come with instruction manuals, and parenting is a hard job. We’ve all had that moment in which we yelled at our child, or said something we didn’t mean. Instantly- we knew that behavior was toxic, and from there out, we decided to not allow ourselves to act that way.

If you have ever wondered if there were other things you may be doing, that could be toxic to your child, it’s important to know. Please see the following signs of toxic parenting, and how to fix them, so you can do better. As long as you are open to being the best you can be, this awareness can help you to be a better parent, not only for your children but also, so you can look back and have no doubts you did the best you possibly could for them.

1. You are hyper-critical of your children and have unreasonable expectations of them.

We all want our kids to be the best they can be, but children are in their formative years. Even if you mean well when you constantly criticize your kids, it will do them harm nonetheless. Pay attention to how you talk to your children. It’s one thing to tell them how to do something better and kindly show them the way, it’s entirely different to continue to tear them down. Stay aware of how you speak with your children, and replace critical remarks with encouragement.

2. You demand that your child agrees with you on everything.

Children are individuals, with their own beliefs and perceptions. While the right is right and wrong is wrong, when it comes to opinions and beliefs, allow your child some room to develop their own. By not allowing them to express their thoughts, you are inhibiting them from having their own opinions and from developing good decision-making skills.

3. You make excessive jokes at your child’s expense.

Most parents joke about their parents, but there is a major difference between joking and bullying. Before you say a joke about your child, imagine things from their point of view. Is this joke all in good fun, or is it toxic and mean?

4. You rage out, a lot.

Unpredictable rage towards your children, or in general, will ultimately make them terrified of you. Making your kids fear you don’t make them respect you- and ultimately, it will cause them to lose trust. Rather than allowing your anger to get the best of you, take a step back and think before you react.

5. You criticize their friends.

Every kid has a friend from time to time that might frustrate you, or won’t align with what you want for your child. However, when you criticize the child to your child, they are going to take it as a criticism toward them. Rather than finding reasons not to like them, try to see your child’s friend from their perspective.

6. You use labels.

Your children are NOT their bad behaviors. Please repeat this after me. When your child acts selfishly, that doesn’t mean they are inherently selfish. When you label them like this, you are setting them up for failure. Instead of labeling your child as their bad behavior, work on the behavior and help them fix it.

7. You use absolute wording, like “You always” or “You never”

When you say things like “You never do your chores right,” or “You always mess everything up,” you don’t allow room to grow. Try to approach the situation, with, “You seem to have a hard time and get frustrated with your chores. How can we work on them together?”

8. You co-opt their goals.

While it’s one thing to help and encourage your child and to be present in their interests, you shouldn’t completely take over. For example, say you have a daughter that is a girl scout. And she needs to sell cookies. You want her to do it- so you take over and do it yourself. In turn, your daughter doesn’t learn how to reach goals, she grows depending on you to do it for her. Instead, sit down with your child and explain the goal, and ask her for ideas to reach it. Pitch in a few of your own, and show her how.

9. You don’t respect their boundaries.

Everyone needs boundaries. It’s okay to monitor your child and check up on them to keep them safe. But it’s not okay to not allow them any privacy and to constantly walk all over them. Don’t share your problems with them. Set limits, and respect them.

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