Toxic parenting behaviors aren’t always what you would expect. Seemingly innocent habits can end up compounding and causing much more damage in the long run than most people would imagine.
Think about it: a parent who coddles their child may do so with love, but in the long run, any sane human being knows that doesn’t help the child in any regard. Toxic parenting can look like screaming and yelling and berating your child, but it can also look like giving your child whatever they want. Toxicity has many faces. The fact of the matter is, that actions have consequences. In the long run, some parenting behaviors are going to hold your child back. Here are 9 toxic things parents do that make their kids less functional.
1. Invalidating their emotions.
When your child comes to you crying, it can be hard not to want to stop them, not because you want to do them harm, but because you don’t want them to be sad. But, not wanting them to be sad doesn’t stop them from actually feeling sadness. When you say, “Stop crying,” or “What do you have to cry about?” or “You are fine!” you are sending the message that their emotions are invalid or something to be afraid of. And later on, that can cause serious emotional problems.
2. Living through your child.
Growing up in a bad childhood can make you want to make sure that your child has the best of the best. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting your child to have a better life than you, make sure that you aren’t living out your unrequited dreams through your child.
3. They don’t allow their child to think for themselves.
Repeat after me: your child is not an extension of yourself, your child is an autonomous individual. Too often, parents who have strong core beliefs try to push their beliefs off onto their children. When their child has their own opinion, they get struck down. The problem with this is that you are removing your child’s desire to think for themselves.
4. They lack boundaries.
If you want your child to be able to have healthy relationships, you need to model boundaries for them. To do this, you need to have boundaries with them. Examples of this, are respecting their need for privacy, not inviting them into your adult problems, and not talking bad about their other parent around them. Of course, there are plenty of other boundaries, but the point is, that a lack of boundaries is toxic and destroys your child’s ability to have relationships later on.
5. Not allowing their child to fail.
It might sound counterproductive to let your child fail, but hear me out. If you are always stepping in when your child is about to fail and helping them out, they will never learn to face adversity on their own. In turn, when failures happen in the real world, they are either going to sink or swim. Preparing them by allowing them to face failure early on will help them out immensely.
6. Praising achievement only.
According to psychotherapist and author Amy Morin, praising your child’s accomplishments (not efforts) sends the wrong message. “Kids who only hear praise for their achievements (rather than for putting in the hard work it took to get there or a willingness to be brave and try something where they may fail) may grow up to become adults who think they need to succeed at all costs. They might be more willing to lie, cheat, and steal, so they can come out a winner,” she says.
7. Expecting perfection.
Perfection is not possible. When you hold your child to that standard, they are never going to be able to reach it and will either be in constant pursuit of it, or they will give up altogether. The thing is, that neither of those is conducive to the real world.
8. They try to be their child’s friend, not their parent.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you cannot be your child’s friend. What I am saying is that being their parent should come first. As parents, it’s our job to provide structure, boundaries, and rules for our kids. Allowing them to do whatever they want will only cripple them in the long run.
9. The helicopter.
We’ve all seen that parent who is always hovering over their child, never allowing them to have any space of their own. Whenever the child spills something on them, their mom is right there to wipe them down and always catches them before they fall. Honestly, the mom is pretty much an extension of the child. The problem with this is that kids need free play for their development. They need room to fail and they need independence. The helicopter parent only causes anxiety and dependence on the parent.