If You Want to Be a Better Parent, Stop Doing These 17 Things

If You Want to Be a Better Parent, Stop Doing These 17 Things

You do everything you can to ensure you’re a good parent to your kid(s), from providing for their physical needs to making sure they’re loved and emotionally supported. However, there could be some things you’re doing that are negatively affecting your kids, however unintentionally. If you want to be an even better parent, stop doing these things.

1. Ignoring Your Child’s Feelings

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Children experience a wide range of emotions just like adults. Dismissing or ignoring these feelings can make them feel insignificant or misunderstood. Instead, acknowledge their emotions and help them understand and express them healthily. It can be confusing for them to feel so overwhelmed, especially if there’s no clear reason. Be there to support and validate them regardless.

2. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

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While it’s good to have high hopes for your child, setting unrealistic expectations can lead to unnecessary pressure and stress. Every child is unique and develops at their own pace. Recognize their strengths and encourage them to grow in their own way. Don’t hold them to arbitrary milestones or you could end up stifling their development.

3. Constant Comparison

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Comparing your child to their siblings, friends, or peers can damage their self-esteem and make them feel inadequate. Celebrate your child’s individuality and accomplishments instead of comparing them to other people. After all, they’re their own unique, special little person, and that’s a good thing.

4. Over-Scheduling Their Time

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While extracurricular activities are beneficial for a child’s development, cramming their schedule with too many activities can lead to burnout. Allow your child to have free time for rest, exploration, and creativity. They need to have a balance in order to thrive. Over-scheduling them is likely to cause anxiety and rob them of the fun these activities would provide otherwise.

5. Failing to Set Boundaries

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Children thrive with structure and boundaries as it gives them a sense of security. A lack of boundaries can lead to confusion and bad behavior. Kids need to know what’s expected of them, as well as what’s appropriate and what’s not — they thrive on structure and guidance, so ensure you provide it.

6. Overprotecting Your Child

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While it’s natural to want to protect your child, being overprotective or being a helicopter parent can stifle their ability to learn and grow from experiences. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s a really important part of their development and resilience building.

7. Dismissing Their Ideas and Opinions

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Children need to feel that their thoughts and opinions are valued and respected, no matter how silly and insignificant they may seem to you. Dismissing their ideas can make them feel unheard and unimportant. Instead, encourage open communication and let them express themselves freely. Make sure they know that you love hearing their input.

8. Neglecting Your Own Self-Care

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Parenting is a demanding job, but it’s crucial not to neglect your own needs and self-care. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You’ll be a better parent when you’re taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. Your identity shouldn’t rest solely on the title of “Mom” or “Dad.”

9. Inconsistent Discipline

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Inconsistent discipline can lead to confusion and behavioral issues. Be consistent with rules and consequences. It helps children understand the consequences of their actions and learn what behavior is acceptable. Also, don’t allow your child to play both parents against one another by saying the other said one thing despite you saying another.

10. Failing to Model Healthy Habits

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Children learn more from what you do than what you say. If you want your child to develop healthy habits, you need to model them yourself. Be a role model for good nutrition, physical activity, emotional intelligence, and other important habits. They’re watching more than you think.

11. Not Allowing Independence

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While it’s important to guide and protect your children, it’s equally important to let them develop independence. This includes allowing them to make certain decisions, solve problems, and learn to do things on their own. Over-reliance on parents can destroy their self-esteem and problem-solving skills.

12. Using Negative Language Frequently

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Using negative language — such as frequent criticism, yelling, or harsh words — can impact a child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. Instead, try to use positive reinforcement and constructive feedback to guide your child’s behavior.

13. Not Spending Quality Time Together

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In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to miss out on quality time with your children. Remember, it’s not just about quantity but also the quality of the time spent together. Engage in activities that your child enjoys and use this time to strengthen your bond.

14. Forgetting to Praise Effort

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While it’s important to celebrate your child’s achievements, it’s also crucial to praise their efforts. This teaches them the value of hard work and perseverance and encourages them to keep trying even when things are challenging.

15. Not Listening Actively

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Active listening involves not just hearing the words your child says, but also understanding their emotions and perspective. By failing to listen actively, you may miss out on understanding your child’s feelings and thoughts. Make sure to show interest, ask questions, and validate their statements.

16. Projecting Your Own Dreams and Aspirations on Your Child

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As a parent, it’s important to remember that your child is a unique individual with their own dreams, aspirations, and talents. Pushing your own unfulfilled dreams or expectations onto your child can create undue pressure and conflict.

17. Neglecting to Teach Empathy

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Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others – is a crucial life skill. If you neglect to teach your child empathy, they may struggle to form healthy, balanced relationships in the future. Model empathetic behavior and encourage your child to think about others’ feelings.

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Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.