8 Parenting Behaviors that May Be Harming Your Child

Parents work really hard to do the best they can for their kids. It’s one of the hardest, albeit most rewarding, jobs out there. But as with any profession: nobody can do it perfectly; everybody makes mistakes (and generally speaking, the kids are just fine anyway).

Some of the behaviors of parents do, however, actually harm their child’s successful development.

We’ll look at 8 of those such behaviors here:

1. Not practicing what they preach.

Have you ever heard anyone say “do what I say, not what I do?” Well, that’s really difficult for kids to do. Kids grow up imprinting their parents behavior, often directly mimicking it. If the parent is not practicing what they are telling their kids to do, the kids are more likely to imprint the behavior rather than the rule or guidance they were told. Monkey see, monkey do…so make sure you’re modeling great behavior for your monkeys.

2. Not allowing emotional expression.

Kids need a healthy, safe environment to grow up in, and that includes an emotionally healthy environment, too. Childrens’ first emotional bonds are with their parents, so it’s important to ensure they feel safe and comfortable talking about their feelings and discussing their emotions, so as not to encourage suppression.

3. Being overly strict.

Kids need boundaries and guidance, but keeping them on too short a leash, chastising them harshly and not allowing for any leniency can damage your kid’s self-esteem. This study from the University College London actually proves this.

4. Helicopter parenting.

Hovering over your child and watching their every move, interfering in their activities and otherwise exerting your presence unnecessarily leads children to have low self-confidence and trouble trusting themselves to make proper choices. Let your kid be a kid and go find something else to occupy your time.

5. Discouraging friendships.

Children with strong social networks are better able to deal with stress and life’s difficulties than kids who are more isolated. Don’t keep your kid away from other kids. Encourage them to socialize with friends and build strong relationships with them.

6. Praising everything.

Unbelievably, as it turns out, you can give your child too much praise. And in the days of participation trophies and every kid being rewarded for everything that they do, it’s important that you don’t perpetuate that behavior at home. Great accomplishments should be praised, even medium-sized goals achieved should get some accolades. But giving praise for picking up after themselves or throwing something away that was left out or anything else can actually impede your child’s development. Focusing praise on their significant accomplishments, especially academically, is of utmost importance.

7. Over-coddling your child.

You don’t need to keep doing things for them that they can do on their own, depending on their age. Maybe don’t expect your four-year old to do his own laundry, but by fourteen? He should be doing it on his own. Impeding your child’s development by over-coddling leads to adults who don’t know how to function in the world without you.

8. Discouraging kids from trying new things.

I am still one of the pickiest eaters I know because I was my mom’s firstborn and when I started saying no to certain foods she would make me something else. My little sister, on the other hand, has a robust palate. Part of that is that my sister is just an awesome human being and was a great kid, but the other part of it is that by the time she came along my mom was done making special accommodations for her kid all the time. Don’t discourage your kids from trying new things; in fact, invite them to do it. Trying new things is how their brains grow and develop and how they learn. Encourage exploratory behavior with your kids; the benefits you’ll all reap will be amazing.

Do you see yourself in any of these behaviors? Do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know!

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