6 Signs You Might Be Using Bad Parenting Strategies (and What to Do About It)

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It’s no lie — parenting is hard. Kids don’t come into the world ready and willing to do everything we tell them. But if arguments, tantrums and slammed doors are part of your home’s daily atmosphere, there might be a larger problem. Is there a chance that your parenting techniques are considered “bad parenting” and could use some adjusting?

How does bad parenting affect a child?

Parents may not realize it, but the way they parent their children could be having negative effects on them. Well-meaning parents sometimes push their kids too hard in sports or other activities, resulting in a child who may have trouble nurturing themselves or excelling in other areas of life. Parents might enforce strict discipline measures on the kids so they learn not to repeat bad behaviors. But children of parents like this could learn to be sneaky or push their boundaries even more as retaliation. There are so many ways bad parenting can affect kids, but the results aren’t always what the parents hope for.

What are the signs of bad parenting?

1. Your child avoids you.

Some avoidance is natural, especially for kids growing into teens and expanding their independence. But if it seems like your child hates you or wants to run away, something’s wrong. Perhaps you’re so strict on your child that they only associate you with negative feelings, which isn’t going to make your kid too excited to hang out with you.

2. Your kids aren’t happy.

As a parent, it’s your job to ensure your kids are as happy as possible. This means taking an interest if you notice their mood seems off. If you can’t get your kids to talk to you, find someone else they can talk to, like a trusted friend or therapist. They can help break through the wall and help you understand what your child needs you to do.

3. Loud fights.

Angry fits of rage and yelling at each other aren’t good for anyone in the family. If you find yourself fighting with your children often, your problem lies in communication. Your family needs to learn how to communicate about feelings effectively through discussion, not yelling because no one benefits from a yelling match. Learn new ways to communicate through a therapist, podcast or books, and teach it to your kids so they move forward in life with valuable communication skills.

4. Familiar bad habits.

Your kids are always watching. Do you make sure to display the type of behavior you expect from them? Even if you constantly remind them of the rules, without your example, the kids will never take it seriously. The rules must not be that serious if mom or dad can break them. Model the behavior you want your kids to have.

5. Your child can’t do anything independently.

This means that you’ve probably done everything for your child for their entire life. Unless you plan on living with your child for the rest of your life, you’ll have to start letting them learn some things on their own. It’s scary to let your child free into the world, but if you take a second to examine the actual risks in most situations, they’re probably not as bad as they seem. Your child needs to make mistakes and learn from them in order to become independent and confident.

6. Your child suffers from low self-esteem.

There’s no way you’d want this for your child, but sometimes the way we parent can inadvertently lead to children disliking themselves. It might be a parenting behavior you learned from your parents, or something you do that seems completely harmless, (like a fat joke or comparing them to other kids), but your job is to build your child’s self-esteem by making them feel good about themselves.

How to solve these problems.

1. Go to family therapy.

This is a great way to have a neutral party present to moderate when you have tough discussions with your kids. When your family struggles with communication issues, a therapist can help you reestablish polite and effective communication strategies.

2. Take a parenting class.

There are lots available online, at religious establishments like churches, hospitals and public organizations. You can find classes specific to your needs, such as toddler behavior or adolescent issues classes.

3. Spend quality time with your kids.

I know, it’s hard to squeeze it in sometimes. But one of your kids’ major needs is real, quality time with you — with your full attention. When kids don’t feel like they’re getting enough emotional nourishment from their parents, they often act out to get attention in other ways. Read books together, snuggle, go out for coffee together or go to an event or attraction. Life will feel more fun for both of you.

4. Respect your kids.

You may be older and more experienced, but respect is a two-way street. Offer your kids an appropriate level of trust. Give them a heads-up when big changes are coming. Remember that they are people more vulnerable than you, so they deserve the utmost respect to reinforce their poise.

5. Practice positive parenting.

In general, the goal of positive parenting is to help children learn all the skills they need for a productive and happy life. Instead of focusing on what children do wrong, positive parenting reinforces the things they do right. Parents practice active listening so they can understand and guide children’s logic. Kids raised with positive parenting learn to feel good about themselves and enjoy their relationships with their parents.


What is toxic parenting?

Toxic parenting is worse than bad parenting, in that it’s extremely detrimental to the children. Toxic parents often, but not always, suffer from mental disorders or addiction. The way they parent their children can be forceful and emotionally damaging, whether they are aware of it or not. Some of the ways toxic parents make poor choices is by trying to control, blackmail, steal from or disregard boundaries. Children in toxic parenting situations do not develop the skills they need for a happy, productive life.

What is negative parenting?

This is sort of a broad term that’s synonymous with bad parenting. It involves negative forms of discipline like physical punishment, taking things away or verbal scolding. The opposite of negative parenting would be positive parenting, which focuses on encouraging good choices with rewards and praise. By focusing on positive achievements and not negative shortcomings, positive disciplined children can learn more from natural consequences and not feel beaten by negativity. They will have greater self-esteem.

What is irresponsible parenting?

Irresponsible parents are a subset of bad parents. They’re unique in that they seem to lack compassion and caring instinct to take care of their children. This might mean they expose their children to danger or inappropriate discipline measures. There’s often a drug dependence or psychological issue involved for parents to become irresponsible.

How parenting styles affect children's personality?

There are four mainly recognized parenting styles:
  • Authoritarian. This is a style of parenting that focuses on rules and boundaries. The parent dominates the child and punishes harshly. Authoritarian-raised children may suffer from communication issues as they grow up. They’re also likely to become authoritarian themselves and pass along the trend.
  • Neglectful. Parents don’t pay much attention to parenting at all. Children have no boundaries and are not well-supervised. Children raised by neglectful parents may have trouble following rules and communicating.
  • Indulgent. Indulgent parents show their children lots of love—sometimes too much love! These types of parents have trouble enforcing rules but offer lots of emotional support. While children of indulgent parents benefit emotionally, they might have trouble following rules and contributing in relationships.
  • Authoritative. This is seen as the gold standard of parenting styles. Authoritative parents set fair boundaries, discipline in positive ways and offer their children a healthy amount of independence. Children who grow up in authoritative families seem to fare the best. They learn how to follow rules, good habits for self-discipline and how to regulate emotions with the rest of their life.

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