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15 Worst Parenting Mistakes

By Life, Family Fun Team


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The worst parenting mistakes can have long-term consequences on a child’s well-being and development. Parents need to recognize and avoid these errors that can be harmful to their children. By addressing these mistakes, parents can create a nurturing and supportive environment for their children to thrive.

15 Worst Parenting Mistakes

15 Worst Things Parents Can Do

1. Ignoring Problems

There are some problems that arise during parenting that parents think can’t be fixed, or they aren’t willing to put in the work to fix the problem. No matter the reason, ignoring a problem will not make it go away. Instead, doing so will give the problem time to fester and grow into an even worse situation.

Common Problems Parents Face that Shouldn’t Be Ignored

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Nighttime wakings
  • Fighting to put a child to nap or bed
  • Blatant defiance in older children

While it is never fun to fix these types of problems, they must be tackled; otherwise, they will only become more challenging as time goes on.

2. Being a Bad Example

Children learn by watching those they love and trust go about their daily lives, so being a bad example is detrimental to a developing child. Telling a child to act a certain way, but then acting the opposite way won’t teach them anything and may inspire the opposite behavior.

It’s critical for parents to lead by example in words, actions, and deeds. Only then will a child behave how the parent expects them to.

3. Not Allowing Quality Time

Kids need quality time with their parents, on a daily and weekly basis. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes for your child each day, whether it is at the dinner table or at bedtime.

Additionally, plan for a few hours of quality time with your child each week to ensure they feel cared for, heard, and loved. Remember, quality time is time spent with just the child, not with the TV on or a phone in the parent’s hand.

4. Letting Technology Raise a Child

Technology can be helpful when you need to handle a few work calls or get some housework done, but it is important not to let technology become the main parent to your child. Set screen time restrictions for your children and for yourself, ensuring that they pass the time with activities that don’t involve the TV or a smartphone.

5. Solving Problems for Kids

Part of growing up is learning to problem solve. Children whose parents solve everything for them will someday be an adult that has no idea how to face real life.

While you should obviously prevent your child from causing themselves physical harm, if they make a decision that could have bad (but not deadly) consequences, let them do it. Then, nudge them to find a solution they can implement on their own.

6. Passing Fears to Children

Many parents don’t realize this, but phobias are contagious. If a child notices their parents are afraid of something, it is highly likely the child will develop that same phobia.

Remember, parents lead by example, and this includes anything that makes the parents anxious. To ensure you don’t impose the same fears on your children, it’s important to remain calm when you are faced with one of your fears.

Additionally, parents should work to overcome their fears so that their children can someday do the same.

7. Imposing Your Dreams Onto Your Kids

Your dreams are your dreams, and trying to convince your children to have the same goals can have disastrous consequences. Although it can be disheartening to let your goals go, it’s important to ensure your children follow their own goals and achieve their own dreams.

It is okay to discuss your former goals with your children and why you didn’t achieve them; just make sure they know that their lives are their own to pursue and that they don’t have to worry about achieving your goals.

8. Disagreeing With Your Partner in Front of Them

Parents who argue in front of their children not only create anxiety in their children but also teach them that they only have to listen or adhere to the rules of one parent. Since parenting is a complicated task, chances are you and your partner won’t always agree. But instead of fighting it out in front of your children, plan to handle any arguments privately, and always present the children with the unified decision you have come to together.

9. Not Taking Time for Themselves

As a parent, it is very easy to devote your entire life to your child, but doing so will quickly drive you to burnout. Once burned out, a parent is unable to make the right decisions for their child or be the involved parent their child needs. Each and every day, plan at least 30 minutes to yourself while the child is napping or in bed to ensure you keep up your mental and physical health.

10. Treating All Children the Same

Each and every child is unique, and while one parenting technique might work for one child, it’s possible you may have to adopt an entirely different approach for another child. Take the time to get to know each of your children, creating a system of rewards and punishments that suits them individually despite what may have worked in the past.

11. Not Making Rules

Despite what you may read, children need rules. Rules help children know what they can and cannot do and how to react in certain situations.

The younger a child is, the more rules they need. While it is okay to relax certain rules as they get older, such as bedtime, when they are young, you need to enforce rules in their life or be prepared to face the consequences, which are usually bad or uncontrollable behaviors.

12. Not Relaxing Rules as a Child Ages

Rules are critical when a child is young, but it is also important that a child eventually learns to create their own rules so they can become an adult who functions in society on their own. For this reason, parents should relax certain rules little by little as a child ages, with more freedom given only when a child masters setting a previous rule on their own.

Rules to Relax On

  • What to eat and when
  • Bedtime
  • Wake up time
  • Time spent with friends
  • Time spent with family
  • Time spent on hobbies
  • Chores, and when they are completed

13. Reacting Poorly

Emotional regulation is an important part of being a parent. Children are naturally reactive, and if they see a parent reacting poorly, they will do the same.

Whenever something surprises or angers you as a parent, fight the urge to yell or scream. Instead, take a deep breath and react calmly. Not only will this teach your children to react more calmly in intense situations, but it will also help them to deal with situations more maturely as they age.

14. Expecting Perfection From a Child

Children will make mistakes, and just as it is important to allow them to do so, it is also important to let them know that you are understanding when they do make a mistake. When your child makes a mistake, it can seem natural to jump to anger or “I told you so”.

But this reaction is more damaging than good and can cause your child to resent you or to become a perfectionist who feels anxiety when they make mistakes. Next time your child makes a mistake, speak calmly and help them to know you understand, while also guiding them to make changes.

Phrases for Guidance

  • “Do you think that was a good idea?”
  • “And what do you think now?”
  • “What have you learned from this situation?”
  • “How will you deal with this going forward?”
  • “Do you think that was the best choice?”
  • “What choice will you make next time you encounter this situation?”

15. Not Discussing Hard Topics

As a parent, it is natural to avoid discussing things like violence or sex with your children. However, avoiding the difficult topics does more harm than good.

Children who can’t get the answers from their parents will often turn to the internet, or worse, an individual whom they shouldn’t trust. It’s critical to be open with your child about all subjects, especially when they ask; just ensure the answer you give is age-appropriate. Plus, discussing tough topics with your child can help facilitate trust in the parents, which is critical when a child enters their teenage years and is exposed to more dangerous situations that the parent can’t protect them from.

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