Here are some common parenting behaviors that can weigh kids down in the long run.
Love, acceptance, time and attention will make our children’s worlds go round.
They’ll feel part of something greater than themselves. They’ll be able to develop, age, and mature safely within secure boundaries knowing their parents have their best interests at heart.
Sometimes, in an effort to parent with our whole heart we often veer into territories that leave our kids with a lot of baggage.
What's in this post...
Common Not So Helpful Parenting Behaviors
Trust me, you’re not alone if you have done some of these from time to time.
1. We tell them we wish they were the other gender
Under no circumstances should we communicate sadness or depression about our children’s gender. It’s one thing to think they were a certain gender or innocently hope for a boy or girl.
It is another to let those feelings fester and linger after birth and communicate them to your child.
Effective: “I thought you were a little boy kicking around in there, but am so happy to have a girl like you!”
2. We knowingly (or unknowingly) play favorites
In one class I was in of 45 adults, over half raised their hands to say growing up they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that their parents had a favorite and they were not it.
It’s normal to get along more easily with some personalities and temperaments than others. It’s normal to have friction with our kids in certain seasons. It’s normal to feel more protective of some kids (those prone to illness or with special needs, perhaps).
Effective: “You are unique in so many ways. I love you and am glad you are part of my family.”
3. We are present but absent
They will find ways to communicate their desire to be seen, loved, and touched with you. Some of these behaviors may be pleasant, others not.
Effective: “Mommy’s has something important to do for 5 minutes, and then you can have my undivided attention, okay?”
Help prepare your kids for life, one skill at a time. Simple, easy skills every month!Learn More
4. We squash our kids’ feelings by interrupting, redirecting, or not being able to handle it
Our kids’ behavior and words will communicate how they feel, and we should support this. Emotions are not positive or negative, they are neutral. We all have them.
We must learn to control them, surely, but we should most definitely not stuff them down. It’ll just mean they explode all over the place later. This is especially true of children.
Effective: “I see that you’re really upset and frustrated right now. There must be some way you can do this chore and still be happy!”
Emotions are a H U G E part of a young child’s life. These “I Am Feeling” cards will reduce tantrums, meltdowns, and help your little one learn emotional awareness.Learn More
5. We communicate rejection to our kids instead of acceptance
Whether a child feels accepted in his home is an indicator of whether he’ll want to communicate with you or whether he’ll seek out love and comfort elsewhere. We know feeling accepted brings higher levels of self-worth, so how do we show our kids acceptance?
We listen. We accept their personalities. We work with their strengths. We help them learn to respect boundaries and create their own. We make time for them.
Effective: “You seem a little frustrated right now, sit down and let’s figure out what’s going on.”
Read: The Wounded Spirit
6. We make them feel “never good enough”
We want our children to do their best. We want them to meet their potential and be flooded with confidence, self-worth and assurance they can make a difference in the world around them.
We do not, however, want them to feel that nothing they do is good enough. If you follow every praise with a “next time” or a “you could have done this” or a “yes, that was good BUT”… then we aren’t accepting their successes in the moment.
Effective: “Great job tonight hustling and rebounding.” (Bring up your suggestions before the next game if need be, not during current praise).
Read: Rising Strong
7. We try to be their friend instead of their parent
If parents don’t set boundaries, the child will be forced to set their own. These children are often called strong-willed when really they are self-directed. Directing their own lives since the parents have not shown up with their authority.
This type of parenting framework will lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-confidence because kids feel in control of situations they are not prepared to deal with.
Effective: Finding a confidant your own age so you can have a healthy relationship (still full of communication and fun) with your 16 year old.
8. We give empty and ineffective praise
What exact behaviors you want to see more of. Saying “great job” “that’s awesome” and “you’re so smart” doesn’t actually tell the child much. They need to know what behaviors to repeat, and need to be praised for effort, not for factors outside of their control.
Effective: “You put good effort into studying for that test and it paid off. ”
9. Raising children without life skills
Raising children to be capable and independent will set them up for success in life because they’ll be confident in their capabilities.
Effective: Train your children well, show emotional support and willingness to assist, and letting them take care of things themselves they are capable of doing.
10. Giving our kids’ what they want when they want it
What’s the difference between spoiling and spoiling rotten? Spoil your children with love, attention, and proper training. Love your child, but don’t spoil them with things.
Children will know if you’re buying them off, trying to get them to shut up, or trying to buy their love out of guilt. They won’t be able to articulate it, but they’ll have a feeling inside. Best to spoil them with the intangibles of life.
Effective: Giving them endless acceptance and love.
11. Misunderstanding the concept of unconditional love
Do you know what unconditional love is and what it isn’t? We must absolutely love our children to the core of our being and let them know it. But love isn’t just hugs, kisses, affection, and smiles.
Sometimes love draws boundaries. Sometimes love puts in place consequences. Love sometimes has to make long-term decisions that will make our children unhappy in the short-term.
Effective: Being willing to risk your child’s unhappiness for their long term gain.
12. We parent in ways that prevent self-control from building
When developmentally appropriate and reasonable, we need to allow our children to build self-control. The same self-control that prevents a child from throwing their food all over the dining room will later help them sit still in class and pay attention.
Our children are capable of a great many things, including waiting, and it’s a gift to parent in a way that allows children the opportunity to experience all the joys and frustrations of delayed gratification in pursuit of a goal.
Effective: Having appropriate family rules that give your child a chance to learn self-control and follow through.
13. We unwittingly breed entitlement
The phenomenon of entitlement has now been laid bare. So what is it?
Expecting things we haven’t earned. Expecting positions we haven’t worked hard for. Expecting success when we didn’t put in effort. Expecting nice things when we don’t work for them.
We can encourage simple practices of thankfulness by sleeping with bread and by modeling gratitude, manners, and thankfulness. And by having our children learn associations between hard work and payoff, effort and reward.
Effective: Having our children learn to work hard, be thankful, and take responsibility.
14. We let our kids live in la-la land
It’s so important we protect our children from influences they aren’t yet able to process. It’s so important we nurture their spirits and hearts during development.
And it’s equally important we don’t shelter them in a way they don’t understand how the world works. Cause and effect and logical consequences are great lessons that can be taught age appropriately to children as they grow up.
Effective: Seeking out appropriate advice or resources to explain difficult concepts to children like abuse, death, pornography, for example.
15. We misunderstand the difference between protection and sheltering
None of us want anything bad to happen to our kids. At all. Ever.
There is a great responsibility on a parent to make sure our children are protected, and one we take very seriously. However, there’s a difference between protection and sheltering.
Protection provides age appropriate security. Sheltering prevents our children from learning necessary life lessons that will help them protect themselves in the future.
Positive: Raising your children to be knowledgeable about life, firm in their foundation, and a light to the world.