20 Things Parents Should Never Do

If someone told you parenting was easy, they were either a saint or a liar. While we all want the best for our kids and hope they become beautiful adults someday, we can’t always be sure how to get them there. Just ask any mother who’s ever stared helplessly at her child while he screamed because she wouldn’t let him watch television until he finished his homework. It’s times like these when we wonder if there’s anything worse than being a parent.

I think that most parents recognize the need to help their children succeed. Most parents also recognize that there are some things they can do or say which will create obstacles that make it more difficult for their children to reach their goals.

I’ve compiled a list of 20 of these counterproductive behaviors; I hope that recognizing them in ourselves will help us avoid recycling them in our children.

1. Don’t Yell At Your Child

The volume, tone, and content of words have a significant impact on a child’s perspective. When we yell at our children to punish or motivate them, we message them that it is okay to be angry with people if we think they deserve it.

If you’re a child trying to improve your behavior, what kind of reinforcement do you think yelling will be? Pretty underwhelming, right?

If our goal as parents is for our children to grow up to be peaceful and well-adjusted adults, then we should strive to create a calm environment at all times. If you feel the need to raise your voice to get someone’s attention, you are probably too close.

2. Never Threaten Your Child

If you tell your child that he won’t be able to play with their friends on Saturday if they haven’t done the homework, you tell him that the consequence of bad behavior is deprivation of fun activities and that this is an okay way to handle problems.

This type of communication teaches the child to be controlling, manipulative, and dishonest. Even if you don’t carry out the punishment, your child will assume you would and may decide to do whatever is necessary to avoid that happening.

3. Don’t Criticize, The Child’s Posterity

Children are fragile. When given the message that they are not okay, they will seek ways to fix themselves so that they can be better and earn your approval and love.

Children don’t always make quality decisions regarding self-improvement; sometimes, things like eating disorders and drug abuse follow. A child who feels like they need to change drastically to be loved will not feel safe and secure.

4. Don’t Compare Your Child To Others.

Comparisons teach children to live in the shadow of others and that they are only as good as the best person around them. It will lead them to believe that their self-worth is directly related to how well they stack up against those who seem better than they are.

The simple truth is that all children are different. Comparing your child to another person can set them up for disaster because each child will have strengths, weaknesses, and areas of opportunity where they could excel—or fail.

5. Don’t Be Quick To Rescue Them

We all want to protect our children, and we sometimes feel that we should step in and rescue them when they face a difficult situation. Doing this, however, teaches them weakness and not resilience and independence.

Our kids should learn to be responsible for their actions and choices. They will stumble along the way, but our goal is to build their confidence to recover from these minor setbacks.

6. Don’t Enable Them To Escape Responsibility For Their Actions.

Justified or not; justified by pain or emotional scars or not; children should never be allowed to be irresponsible for their actions. If we do, they will learn that there is someone there to pick up the pieces and make things better no matter what they do.

This sets them up for failure when they grow older and feel like they cannot handle life’s daily struggles on their own.

7. Say “I Love You” And Mean It

If kids hear that we love them, but don’t see it in our actions, then we are sending the message that it is okay to say things you don’t mean. Your kid might think that words are more important than actions.

You should never assume that your child knows you love them, either. You need to tell them, show them and prove it through the critical choices you make every day about how you spend your time and energy.

8. Don’t Invade Their Privacy

The same we need privacy, our children need it too. It means no prying into their personal space.

They need to know that they can trust you not to violate their privacy; this is something sacred between them and you. This relationship of confidentiality will go a long way in helping them feel like they can be honest with you when the time comes.

Being nosey will only push your child further away and cause them to resent you for being involved in matters they feel are not your business.

9. Don’t Expect Them To Meet Your Expectations.

Parents often have high expectations for their kids rooted in their desires and dreams for the child rather than their dreams.

You need to be aware that your child may not grow up just like you or want the same things in life. Expecting them to live their life the way you want will only lead to disappointment and resentment.

10. Don’t Abuse Them Physically Or Emotionally.

Never hit, spank or belittle your kids. This will only push them to act out inappropriately, and it could even lead to depression, addiction, or suicide risk. However, be careful not to over-protect them, either. This will teach them to be overly dependent and make them feel worthless.

11. Don’t Put Them In The Middle Of Your Arguments

This is a delicate situation, but your children mustn’t be involved in any disagreements you might have with each other or anyone else. If that’s the case, they will feel like they need to protect and take sides and are responsible for the conflict.

12. Give Them Age-Appropriate Responsibilities And Chores

Our responsibility is to teach children the value of work and how to be productive members of society rather than individuals who expect everything done for them without lifting a finger.

It means giving them age-appropriate responsibilities and chores.

13. Don’t Act Like Everything Is About You.

Kids need to know that their parents aren’t the center of the world and that they have a life outside of you. They can do fine without you, even if it might seem like they can’t. Parents need to recognize that their children are unique individuals with goals, interests, and dreams of their own.

14. Don’t Ignore Their Emotions

Kids are emotional beings, but sometimes parents shut down their emotions rather than facing them head-on. This will lead to problems of emotional regulation later on in life.

If your child is sad, you should sit down and talk with them about what is bothering them so they can get it out in the open instead of suppressing their feelings.

15. Don’t Believe Everything They Say

Your kids might be lying to you about some things, even if they are very subtle about it. Their lies might be for any number of reasons, but the point is that they are lying.

Being aware of this will help you know when they are honest and when their truths need investigation.

16. Don’t Make Decisions For Them Always Ask

If you want your kids to grow up and make their own decisions, you need to allow them the space and freedom for that. This means that you do not decide what they can or cannot do without asking them first.

17. Don’t Nag

Nagging is annoying. Not only does it make your kids feel like they are being attacked or need to defend themselves, but it infers that you don’t think your kids are capable of understanding complicated situations or making good choices.

18. Don’t Lose Your Temper

Tantrums and anger will only make your kids feel scared and like they failed. If you keep your cool, they might learn to do the same when facing a complex or confusing situation.

Your child will respond better to you if they feel safe, secure, and respected.

19. Don’t Stop Listening

Kids need parents to be there for them. That means that you should listen when they want to talk, game or no game. They might not always like your advice, but the fact that you care enough to offer it is what matters.

20. Don’t Forget To Have Fun With Them

Parents put so much pressure on themselves to do a good job and raise kids right that they sometimes forget to have fun with them. That is what being a parent is all about, after all. It’s not always about meeting expectations and doing things correctly; it’s also about having fun and enjoying moments together with your kids.


Kids need the opportunity to make mistakes without being punished or judged; after all–we all did growing up. They need parents who will love them no matter what and want to be part of their lives even when things aren’t perfect. When that happens, then kids can grow up to be the best people they can be.