8 Signs of Bad Parenting That Every Parent Should Know
Are You a Bad Parent to Your Child?
We have all heard that bad kids come from bad parents, and there are several ways to be a bad parent. Parents are a child's first teachers in life. A child's attitude, views, goals, and perspective depend on what he or she learns from their parents. A child's demeanor is also a reflection of how they've been treated by their parents. What a child learns or experiences in their early years is known to leave a lasting impression on them. This is why good parenting is an absolute necessity.
Whenever a child makes a mistake or displays bad manners, the blame is mostly put on the parents because they are responsible for teaching their children how to behave. When a child's bad behavior or emotional state are linked to his or her parents' actions, it is natural to wonder if the parents made a mistake or if they are simply bad parents.
It's clear that bad parenting is damaging for children, but how do you determine whether or not someone is a bad parent? Can good kids survive bad parenting? What are the signs of bad parenting? And how can you be a better parent?
The 8 Signs of Bad Parenting
- Avoiding and Neglecting Your Child
- Physical or Verbal Abuse
- Setting a Bad Example
- Favoritism or Partiality
- Oppressive, Overbearing Authoritarianism
- Irresponsible Financial Behavior
- Too Much Pampering or Interfering
- Not Trusting the Child
Each of these issues will be described in-depth below.
1. Avoiding and Neglecting Your Child
Neglecting your child physically or emotionally can affect him or her in an extremely negative way. Neglect is a very common type of child abuse, and it can be as harmful as physical abuse. Ignoring the needs of children, leaving them unsupervised or in dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless can cause low self-esteem and lead to isolation. Neglect can also affect the mental health or social development of a child, and it may even cause life-long psychological scars.
Neglect can negatively affect a child's cognition, emotions, behavior, motor development, language development, and overall ability to function. According to The Lasting Impact of Neglect by Kiersten Wier, neglect can lead to a long list of problems including low self-esteem, social withdrawal, poor impulse control, stealing, problems coping with or regulating emotions, and pathological behaviors like tics, tantrums, and self-harm. Neglect can also affect intellectual functioning and academic achievement. Those who don’t get the attention they need in childhood may have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships later in life.
Solution: A child needs to feel loved and cherished. Pay attention to your children and prioritize their well-being. Make time to talk to your kids and bond with them. Make it clear to your kids that you love them and appreciate them.
2. Physical or Verbal Abuse
Exposing a child to physical violence or verbal abuse can be very damaging to his or her well-being. Many parents vent their frustrations at their children without realizing what sort of psychological damage they are inflicting. Even one spanking or slur can affect a child for years. These forms of abuse can cause the child to lose confidence and develop an inferiority complex.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, verbal and physical abuse can cause lifelong psychological, physical, behavioral, and economic problems. Victims will also most likely struggle with poor physical and mental health as a result. Aside from observable signs of physical damage, the effects of verbal and physical abuse might manifest as depression, anxiety, or high-risk behaviors such as casual sex, self-harm, crime, chemical dependency, and other unhealthy, dangerous behaviors. Some abused children may develop eating disorders, struggle with sleep issues, become hostile, apathetic, or lethargic, and develop attention deficit disorders.
Punishment might be required when a child does something wrong, but when they are extensively punished for small matters, it may backfire. A child requires positive physical contact with their parent in the form of hugs, kisses, and other signs of affection. If you yell at your child, call him or her names, use corporal punishment, or say that he or she is no good, the damage can be permanent.
Solution: Avoid using spanking or insults as a form of punishment. Time-outs, losing privileges (like watching television, playing video games, or attending social events), receiving extra chores, or getting an earlier bedtime are good ways to punish children without inflicting harm upon them. If your methods are ineffective, consult a therapist or mental health professional. Therapists can help families improve their communication skills and they can help parents find better ways to interact with kids.
Remember: You are not managing an inconvenience. You are raising a human being.— Kittie Frantz
3. Setting a Bad Example
There are many parents who do nothing to discourage bad behavior or manners in their kids, and these kinds of parents usually turn a blind eye to their kids' problematic behavior. As the saying goes, what you sow is what you reap. If you are someone who shouts or uses bad words in front of children, then it is only natural that they will take after you. That may be why the children of smokers, drinkers, or drug users are more likely to start experimenting with substances at a young age. Their parents are in no position to stop their kids from developing these bad habits. It would be hypocritical to forbid an activity that they have modeled for their own children. Children will often emulate what they observe in their homes. If parents use drugs or other harmful substances, then children may eventually do the same.
Solution: Try to develop good habits for yourself. Your kids will observe how you treat yourself and they will learn from what they see. Stress the importance of wellness to your children so they will be less likely to adopt unhealthy or harmful habits.
4. Favoritism or Partiality
It can be very damaging when a parent makes it clear that they prefer one child over another, and children are more likely to exhibit depression later in life as a result. You might think that the preferred child would benefit from all the positive attention, but that's not what happens. Dr. Karl Pillemer says, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re the chosen child or not, the perception of unequal treatment has damaging effects for all siblings.”
In many households, boys get preferential treatment, which makes girls feel inferior or neglected. With regard to education, social opportunities, or other essential necessities, girls often get fewer opportunities than boys, and this bias typically begins in their own homes. Many parents also have the habit of complaining about their own children. They may grumble or complain about their child in front of other kids rather than communicate and parent responsibly. Parents who are overly critical, unfair, or biased end up damaging their children with their behavior.
Solution: Even if you have a stronger bond with one child or prefer their company and personality over the other children, try not to show that you have a favorite. Take time to appreciate each of your children for who they are as individuals, and spend one-on-one time with each child to improve your bond with all of them.
5. Oppressive, Overbearing Authoritarianism
It is true that a parent usually knows what is best for his or her child, but some parents force their choices onto their children without considering their interests, intelligence level, or capabilities. Many parents are very controlling, and they try to project their own unfulfilled dreams and ambitions onto their children.
An authoritarian parent is one who demands constant obedience and uses threats, shame, and other punishments to enforce good behavior. Research suggests that these types of oppressive tactics are toxic for kids. When a child cannot live up to the expectations of the parent, it can be very demotivating and disappointing for everyone. A child requires encouragement and motivation, but forcing them to be something that goes against their own nature can affect them adversely.
Solution: Give your kids the space and encouragement they need to be themselves. Allow them to explore their own interests and try not to force them to do unreasonable things. Take an interest in their hobbies and share your own with your kids without pressuring them to do exactly what you would do.
6. Irresponsible Financial Attitude
Many parents are not very wise with money and don't model healthy financial responsibility to their children. While some parents cater to a child's every whim and fancy, others are excessively stingy. Some continuously over-spend and live beyond their means, while others keep finances a secret and pretend like money doesn't matter.
Privileged or spoiled children may fail to realize the real value of money, and they may develop bad habits as a result. Studies have shown that by age 7, most children have already formed the money habits they will carry into adulthood, so it's important to teach kids about money while they are young.
Solution: Model good financial behavior to your children and talk to them about money. Explain to your children that they must earn their money, and talk about how they can receive an allowance in exchange for doing chores around the house. Help your kids save and spend wisely. It may be beneficial to set up a savings account for your kids so they can save some of their allowance and learn to budget what they have.
Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.— Elbert Hubbard
7. Too Much Pampering or Interfering
Too much pampering or involvement is the opposite of neglect and it can spoil a child by making them too demanding and dependent. Many parents over-protect their children and interfere in their activities to such an extent that when they grow up, they are incapable of taking care of themselves and they become anxious, incompetent, and incapable of making decisions.
Solution: Let your children learn to solve problems on their own. Determine whether or not a problem is serious enough to warrant your interference or if it is something that your child can handle on their own. Allow your kids to fail or be disappointed without coming to their rescue every single time. Kids will become capable and self-sufficient when they are given the opportunity to do things for themselves. If they don't succeed in some manner, let them know that they can learn from every experience no matter what the outcome.
8. Not Trusting the Child
Many parents believe others more than they believe their own children. Sometimes, they do not even allow their child to offer an explanation before they form their opinions. Many have no faith in their children and demotivate them with their words or actions. This sort of behavior can cause a child to rebel or do things they are not supposed to do.
Solution: Establish trust between yourself and your children. Let them know that they can always talk to you about what's going on in their lives or their feelings. Show your kids that you trust them too. When kids trust their parents they are more likely to be open about what's going on in their lives. Showing that you trust your child may help them act with more integrity and honesty when they interact with their parents or others.
Quiz: What Would a Bad Parent Do? Which of These Scenarios Are Examples of Bad Parenting?view quiz statistics
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Good Kids Survive Bad Parenting?
The effects of bad parenting can run deep. Many kids lose self-esteem, develop bad habits, or feel inhibited for the rest of their lives, so take time out for children, teach them good manners, and correct them when they do wrong.
Many people have suffered from the effects of bad parenting. I had a neglected childhood where I was forced to stay away from my parents, and I also suffered from favoritism. I am sure that there are many who suffered in childhood like I did, but it is up to us to turn that negativity into positivity. What I suffered made me a much stronger person. It made me promise myself to do better and never let my own children suffer the way I did.
People can work hard to heal themselves after growing up with bad parents, but doing so can be challenging and painful. Many people will be unwilling to engage in the daunting emotional labor that healing requires, and as a result, they may choose to avoid their issues. A person's willingness to heal themselves can vary a lot depending on their emotional state and their circumstances. Rather than put your kids in a situation where they will have to heal from their childhoods, focus on being a good parent or provider so they will have a great foundation for the rest of their lives.
Should I Have Kids and Risk Being a Lousy Parent?
The first thing a current or prospective parent should realize is that you cannot be perfect in all aspects. Humans are going to make mistakes, but we have to learn from them, correct them, and not let them affect our children. Though it may not be possible to be a perfect parent, you can at least try to be a good one. It may help to attend therapy or a parenting class to learn how to deal with your own issues in ways that will enable you to be a good parent.
Is It Okay to Be a Friend to my Children?
Being more of a friend than a parental figure can cause a lot of problems. Children may not respect their parents' decisions or authority if they predominantly see their parents as friends. When parents neglect to set rules and boundaries for their children, it is only natural for the kids to become brats or display unacceptable behaviors. By being a friend instead of a parent, you do them a disservice. It is your choice if you want to be a positive role model or be a bad parent. A parent's ability to manage tantrums, mistakes, and mischief wisely can help a child become a good citizen. It is possible to have friendly interactions with your children while being a responsible parent. You can have an open and trusting relationship with your children while maintaining your position as an authority figure.
Is Therapy a Good Remedy for Parent-Child Problems?
A marriage and family therapist (MFT) can help parents communicate with one another and their children. Sometimes parents will need to see a therapist on their own, and sometimes entire families need to participate in sessions with a counselor. A therapist can help people become aware of habits or actions that may be damaging familial relationships. Therapists will usually work with people to help them recognize and improve problems. Therapy can also be a powerful tool for developing emotional wellness. Some parents will become better providers for their kids by improving their own emotional states.
If you have more questions to ask or examples of bad parenting to share, feel free to contribute to the comments section.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
My child is horrible. No method of punishment works for her. She does the same thing you tell her to stop doing over and over again. I have resorted to spanking, but that's not working either. Am I a bad parent? What do I do? I am just ready to give her away to the system because I can't do it anymore.
Punishments can often make children rebellious. Things that can't be solved using punishment can be solved using love. Talk to your child calmly and try to understand her problem. If you don't share a good rapport with your child, let her father or grandparents talk to her. Maybe that will help you know what you are doing wrong. Communication can solve a lot of problems.Helpful 158
How can I be a good parent when my parents weren't?
You have suffered the effects of bad parenting. You know what you lacked as a victim of poor parenting. All you have to do is not to repeat the mistakes your parents made. That won't be hard, right?Helpful 103
Is it too late to correct bad parenting? Do the effects of bad parenting last forever?
It's never too late to change yourself. I am sure your kids would be happy to see you changed than having a bad parent for life. Yes, the effects of bad parenting are likely to last for a long time.Helpful 62
My stepdaughter married a guy with a son. She too has a son. Her husband has abandoned nurturing his own son, and is trying to be overly involved in hers. He never played sports, but is now taking every opportunity to coach. Our grandson is getting upset repeatedly, and his mom doesn't know what to do with her husband being so overly involved. We think he should focus on his son instead of taking control of his non-biological son. What do you think?
It is a good thing that your son-in-law cares for his stepson. Maybe he loves your daughter too much and wants to stay in her good books. But overly intrusive parenting is bad for children and should be avoided. I also find it odd that he has abandoned his biological son. The kids from both marriages should be treated equally. Neglecting a child is equally bad as over-involvement with another child. I think your daughter should have an open talk with her husband and sort the issue.Helpful 28
I'm failing my children because of my bad behavior, and I don't want them around. Can you help?
Children need parents who guide and motivate them. Just like over interference, lack of proper parental influence can also be bad for children. It is good that you realized your fault. Now all you need to do is take positive steps to change your behavior towards your children.Helpful 39
© 2010 Anamika S Jain