7 Toxic Behaviors that Parents are Unaware of

June 15, 2016
Without realizing it, many parents can demonstrate toxic behaviors with their children. Learn more about what they are here and how to stop them.

When children are born, they don’t come with a manual that teaches us how to be better parents. In fact, a lot of us fall into patterns of toxic parental behaviors that negatively affect our child’s/children’s development.

Parents always try to educate their children as best they know and can. However, sometimes we aren’t fully aware that we exhibit certain toxic parental behaviors can cause more damage than good.

This is what we’re going to focus on today, with hopes of opening your eyes to a reality that a lot of times, we fail to see.

Toxic parental behaviors

lonely little girl

Although you may not believe it, good intentions by themselves are not enough. You need to self-critique and know how to identify any toxic parental behaviors that could affect your kids.

These behaviors can affect their self-esteem more than anything else, causing them serious problems in the future.

But…are the parents to blame for this toxic behavior? No. Sometimes they’re simply “copying” everything they saw their parents do because no course exists that teaches them to be parents. This is something that must be learned through experience.

That’s why we’re going to talk about 7 toxic behaviors that you just might identify with. It’s important that you keep an open mind, and avoid denying that you do these things.

Think about how important your child is. Let’s get to it!

1. You are hypercritical

A lot of times its hard to see just how critical you are with your children. It’s good that you point out mistakes because this helps them change. Likewise, this helps the child realize where they went wrong.

But, you also need to realize that continual criticism is not good. Being excessively critical could create insecurities in your children, making them mistrust their own abilities and strengths.

Discover: Teach Children Happiness, not Perfectionism

2. You punish them with negative emotions

Oftentimes, we distinguish between the positivity and negativity in emotions. However, not all negative emotions need to be seen as negative. Fear, for example, can save your life in more than one situation.

boy crying with dad pointing finger at him, parenting

That’s why you need to let your child express his/her emotions. Let them cry, let them show sadness. If they’re afraid, let them show that as well. Repression is never a good thing because sooner or later, all that is repressed is going to come out somewhere.

3. Deciding for them

Kids are kids, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have their own say or vote. There are certain decisions in which the parents will have to intervene, but at other times…it’s not necessary!

Let your kids make the decisions that they are capable of making. This will strengthen their confidence and you’ll avoid having them feel unsure.

See also: What to do about Disobedient Children

4. Making them afraid

Children need to live in a safe, trusted environment, not where fear is constantly on their heels. Kids need to make mistakes, to explore, and to start experiencing life.

If they’re afraid, they become insecure and fearful people. It’s important that you avoid instilling fear because living afraid is not living at all, especially for children.

5. It’s not their fault

angry mother looking at daughter while crying demonstrating toxic parental behavior

Sometimes parents take out their frustrations on their kids, making them feel responsible for things that they truly are not responsible for.

This can make big problems overnight. They could start to internalize this guilt. No one should make anyone else feel guilty, much less parents with their kids.

6. Love is unconditional

This is a big mistake that parents make without even realizing it. A parent’s love for their children should not have conditions. It shouldn’t depend on your child’s success or how they behave.

This will only make them feel like they don’t deserve to be loved, and they will carry this with them for the rest of their lives.

7. Not setting boundaries

young girl holding stuffed animal

Sometimes this happens when you have several children, or simply when you don’t plan on setting boundaries. This is a mistake. Children need boundaries to keep them safe while discovering the world.

These limits are positive because, without them, your kids could start to develop negative and defiant behavior.

If you, as a parent, have identified with any of these toxic parental behaviors, or if you have seen your parents identify with them, it’s important that you change these behaviors and never repeat them again.

You are developing children who will grow up and will have to live in this world and connect with others. Not a single one of these behaviors makes their lives easier, but rather, makes it harder.

So let’s start this very day to eliminate all of these toxic parental behaviors.

Hoskins, D. (2014). Consequences of Parenting on Adolescent Outcomes. Societies. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4030506