I guess every parent has its good and bad moments, and no one is blaming them, because being a mom or a dad is not easy. However, there are some bad parenting traits you may have, without even knowing it.
Toxic parenting techniques can take over your everyday interactions, no matter how well-intentioned you are. Here’s how to recognize your own bad parenting traits, and break the cycle before any harm is done!
You talk at your child instead of with them
Communication between a parent and his child can be very tricky at times, especially when the children become older and have opinions of their own. Sometimes, you might think that you’re doing right for your child, when in fact, you’re not listening to him/her.
Talking with them, and not at them, is very important. This bad parenting trait may have come from the advice you received from your parents, while others you may have picked up on your own.
Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist known for her national television appearances focusing on the mental health of adolescents and teens, says communicating in the right way is key for parents.
“Toxic parents are known for not listening to their kids, but instead, talking over them or at them,” she says. “If parents recognize themselves doing this they should make a concerted effort to remain silent and listen, listen, and listen some more. If kids feel listened to they will talk more and confide more. ”
You get lost in negative thoughts
As I said before, being a parent is never easy, so you can see why there are times when parents have the tendency to get lost in their own thoughts. Additionally, for toxic parents, this behavior can lead to a negative response in their children.
Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD, an internationally recognized child psychology expert and author of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, says that a parent’s thoughts are often at the root of negative behavior in children.
He explains, “No kid is perfect, but parents often don’t realize just how much their own thoughts, rather than their children’s behavior, contribute to their own emotions.”
Parents that see themselves entering a cycle of negative thinking should take a step back and change their negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, rephrasing the thought “He’s being such a brat today,” into “He’s having a hard time today, I wonder what’s going on,” can have a positive impact on your interaction with your child.
You don’t manage your own frustrations
Parenting comes along with frustrations on a daily basis, but the most important thing is recognizing these trigger points, in order to make your life easier.
Dr. Bernstein believes that parents can recognize how their own frustrations impact their child’s behavior.
“When you learn to identify and manage your own parenting frustrations, you’ll be amazed at how your child’s challenging behaviors can quickly improve,” he says.
Instead of tongue-lashing at your child for your own lack of planning, there as ways you can follow if you want to reduce the frustration before it begins. You should start by scheduling extra time into your morning routine to have time to prepare the breakfast or the five extra minutes your child needs to put her shoes on just right.
You put down their playmates
For children is very important that their parents like their playmates. Every child wants to bring home a friend or two that might cause a busy and tired parent to raise their eyebrows.
Expressing criticism about your child’s friends will only lead to a toxic outcome, says Dr. Greenberg. “Toxic parents criticize their child’s friends. If you criticize their friends, you are criticizing your kids. At least, that’s what they take from this behavior. Instead, find out why each of their friends are special to them,” she recommends.
You label your child
Toxic parents confuse a child’s bad behavior with a negative identity and misinterpret some bad choices with a bad child.
“If you think about it, parents are ‘on duty’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Dr. Bernstein explains.
“The lack of time for parents to catch their breath and reflect can lead them sometimes to see their children in global ways. As a result, toxic labels such as: lazy, problematic, selfish, and inconsiderate can result in parents influencing their children to be locked into a negative identity. And labeled kids are usually fraught with frustration, hurt, anger, and resentment. They will be demotivated for making positive changes. Many adults lament how they themselves were labeled as children. Toxic labels leave toxic baggage.”
Try to focus on your child’s behavior and find solutions on how to fix it, instead.
You compare your child to others
One of the worst mistakes you can make is comparing your child to his siblings or friends, in the hopes that he will be motivated and he will exhibit the same behavior.
Dr. Greenberg says, “Instead, you should celebrate each child’s individuality; comparisons damage self-esteem and do not serve as motivation.”
You say “You always…”
Using phrases like“You always” or “You never” doesn’t motivate a child to make changes to their behavior. Instead of addressing the behavior you want to see changed, use a proper language that provides them the opportunity for growth, such as “You seem to be upset when…” or “How can we work through this issue together?”
You openly criticize yourself
Bad parenting and toxic parents are known for constantly beating themselves over about superficial issues, like their weight or overall appearance.
“Children look toward their parents to see examples of just about everything, self-esteem included,” Dr. Greenberg says.
“Devaluing yourself in front of your child is a toxic parenting behavior. Children model after their parents and if you are calling yourself ‘fat,’ ‘stupid,’ etc. then guess what? Your kids are likely to do the same.”
Therefore, it is best to keep negative thoughts to yourself, while giving your children an example of positive self-care they can follow, like exercising or eating well.
You refuse to let them be independent
Watching your little one grow up so fast can be sad, but it’s still a beautiful process, full of pride and wistfulness about the past. For toxic parents, this normal process becomes filled with bossy caretaking that holds the child back from growing naturally.
It’s very important that children are able to take care of themselves at a certain age, so refusing to let them be independent is not the solution here.
“Doing everything for your kids is actually a toxic parenting behavior,” Dr. Greenberg explains. “This gives them the message that you don’t think that they are competent and prevents them from developing skills.”
As children grow up, a parent should be given them age-appropriate tasks, like feeding the family pet or helping with the laundry. Your child’s birth order can contribute to varying personality traits and tendencies, so every child needs a different approach.
You take your child’s behavior personally
As a child, there are times when you say mean things to your parents that, apparently, are taken personally. As a parent, hearing your kid telling you they don’t like you (or worse) for the first time can be very hard to handle and accept, because you’ve fed, diapered and taken care of this tiny being since they came into this life, only to find out they do not always appreciate you.
Even if it can be very hurtful towards your feelings, this kind of behavior is perfectly normal and natural, and it’s a part of a child’s development. However, toxic parents tend to take this natural behavior personally and take criticism to heart.
This can cause a parent to hold grudges and behave immaturely towards their children, or even giving them the silent treatment. If you’re one of those parents that take their child’s behavior personally and make you react irrationally, you might consider speaking with a therapist to explore your own issues that are triggering such a response.