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What is Bad Parenting? Here are 16 Signs.

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16 Signs of Bad Parenting

This article was written by ROHIT GAROO and posted in MomJunction. Read the original here.

Does bad parenting really exist? It seems to be a myth to most parents because parents do not want anything bad for their kids. Unfortunately, bad parenting exists. Parents sometimes indulge in detrimental parenting, leaving a long-lasting effect on the child. It could be unintentional, but the damage is done. No matter how hard you try to fix things, you meet with little success making you wonder “Am I a bad parent?”

You may not realize your moments of bad parenting. Therefore, this MomJunction post makes it comprehensible. Keep reading to learn all about bad parenting, the signs of it, and the ways you can be a better parent.

What Is Bad Parenting?

The definition of bad parenting is not a single act of poor nurturing but rather a series of such actions that invariably harm the little one’s demeanor and psychology. A parent may feel guilty and will try to reconcile, but it often yields poor results.

Unsurprisingly, many parents do not realize their folly since the deed was unintentional or perhaps they are too busy to learn to be an active parent. Some parents are not prepared for a worst-case scenario, while a segment does not care enough. These attributes and actions all sum up to refer to bad parenting skills.


What Are The Signs Of Bad Parenting?

Several parenting incidences point towards being a bad parent. Here are some unintentional things you could be doing to fit the label of being a bad mother or father:

1. The child is reprimanded even if he spoke the truth:

The child did something wrong and acknowledged it, nevertheless, you scold him for committing a mistake. And you have forgotten that he was courageous enough to be truthful.


2. You scold, punish and hit the child in front of everyone:

There is no hesitation in castigating the little one irrespective of the place and the people. You scold him in front of his siblings, grandparents, cousins, and even the neighbors. You even whip a slap or two.


3. More advice, less encouragement:

All you do is tell him how to do things (“You should wake up early for better grades.”) rather than encourage him with positive words (“You are far intelligent dear. I’ll help you wake up early to get better grades.”)


4. Not displaying adequate affection:

Ever wondered why your child is always trying to get your attention by troubling you with naughty tricks? It is quite likely that he feels a lack of emotional connect and warmth from his parents.


5. Not supportive when he needs you the most:

It could be your child’s school examination time when he needs a lot of support from you. But you focus on your official work or another commitment, which makes the child feel neglected.


6. There is always a comparison to someone else:

It is good to set positive role models for your child but always comparing him with someone, especially a sibling or the child next door, is a sign of bad parenting.


7. Never proud of the achievements:

You express no excitement or joy when your kid comes home beaming with pride about his win in a contest. In fact, there have been few instances of pride in your parenthood.


8. Always having a criticizing tone:

You see everything the child does in a negative light, and are always critical of him. This is different from not appreciating something since there you are indifferent, but here you just disapprove everything.


9. Make no efforts in understanding and respecting the feelings:

You may spend a lot of time in teaching good things but never spare a moment to understand the little one’s opinion and feelings. Every time he shares something, you rule it out as gibberish and do not take it seriously.


10. Not showing the right way of doing things:

It is not just about showing the path but also walking with the child for the first few steps. Investing more in actions than words is important.


11. Setting poor examples:

Children learn habits, whether good or bad, from their parents. If the child does something wrong and inappropriate, then spare a moment to introspect for he may have learnt it from you.


12. The child is never offered a choice:

Parents decide everything for their children, from the school they study to the clothes they wear. In this process, you tend to get rigid to the point that you forget to give a choice to the child. That makes the child yearn for other things, and in some cases, he will not hesitate even to steal it.


13. Pampering to the point the child becomes arrogant:

It’s nice to shower attention and materialistic love but not so much that the child becomes a spoilt brat. He takes everything for granted and does not understand the value of anything. It makes him pretentious, which can lead to the formation of a negative social image.


14. Help solve even the smallest problems:

It is good to hold the hand but not to the point that the child is unable to do anything on his own. This results in low self-confidence and self-esteem.
Along with these signs of bad parenting, there are also certain habits that make you a bad parent.


15. Physically intimidate the child:

You just raise your hand, or worse, show a fist every time your child does something wrong. Intimidation has become your primary tool to discipline your child, irrespective of the mental or physical impact it has on him. Cultivating a fear towards you to control the child is tantamount to bullying, which is quite a pathetic thing.


16. Giving short, grumpy answers:

A child needs guidance through wise and comforting words, but instead, you choose to respond in terse replies that leave the child bewildered yet also disappointed. He may approach you multiple times to get an appropriate reaction, but you continue to be stubborn.

Bad parenting can have a lasting impact on the child, and often the damage is irreversible.


How Does Bad Parenting Affect A Child?

The consequences of bad parenting are serious and may have long-term repercussions. Here are the adverse effects of bad parenting on a child:

  1. Lack of empathy towards other: Children behave with others the way their parents treat them. If a child is treated with indifference at home, then it is quite likely he will display similar emotion at school and elsewhere. Such children eventually develop apathy towards other human beings.

  2. Have trouble establishing lasting friendship and relationship: It can happen due to low self-confidence or brash behavior, both that would have arisen from authoritarian parenting style. Studies have shown that when parents do not invest emotionally in their children, the child can subsequently develop problems regulating emotions and is unable to interact with others (1)

  3. Development of anxiety and depression: Research has shown that children who experience bad parenting during their childhood are at a greater risk of developing anxiety and depression as adults (2). Your bad parenting today can affect the child’s mindset, making him a bad parent later in life.

  4. Psychological disorders: When you are at the extreme of being a bad parent then the child can develop severe mental disorders that may take years to cure or never rectify at all. Such children tend to become social misfits as they step into adulthood. It dims their opportunity to be an integral part of the society, eventually making them an outcast.

  5. Point to remember: There is a misconception that bad parenting leads to autism in children. Autistic children need a different kind of parenting style but are certainly not the result of poor or bad parenting (3).

  6. Criminal behavior: Some parents indulge in corporal punishment since they believe it is the only way of dealing with naughty children. However, repeated use of physical reprehension can make the child think it is okay to strike someone for any reason. As the child steps into adulthood, this belief transforms into an immoral inclination to cause deliberate harm to others (4).


These conditions seem quite frightening, but it is never too late or difficult to change your parenting style for the greater good of your child

These conditions seem quite frightening, but it is never too late or difficult to change your parenting style for the greater good of your child.


How To Be A Better Parent?

It is never too late to change your parenting style, and here are some tips on being a better parent:

1. Have hands-on involvement in parenting:

You are not just the guardian of the child but also someone who teaches essential life lessons. Go beyond the provisionary creature comforts, and strike an emotional rapport. Focus on a relationship that has control, but not at the cost of love, so that the child has a healthy upbringing.

2. Refrain from yelling and striking the child:

Children can be difficult with their tendency to be naughty. It is quite likely you lose patience and yell, which can leave the child wailing and upset. Some parents have few qualms at slapping their child even if it is in front of relatives or even strangers. That makes you bad parents. You may feel sorry for it later, but the damage would have been done.

Learn to control the child’s naughty outbursts in a more reasonable manner. For example, if he breaks a sibling’s toy, then take away his favorite toy and say he gets it only when he apologizes and promises never to do it again. Once he does so, you must explain to him why his actions were wrong, and how he must never damage someone else’s belongings.

3. Give reasons for your instructions:

A child will not understand the underlying purpose behind an instruction like “Sleep on time at night.” As a parent, it is your duty to elaborate the reasons in a manner the kid understands. Do not say things like “Because I say so!” or “Do not ask questions, just go to bed!” That sets a wrong precedent, and children have a natural tendency to oppose things they do not understand.

4. Set rules after discussion:

If you set some new rules, then have a word with the child before implementing them. That way, he is a part of the proceedings and is aware that he is not supposed to do some things. Having discussions with the child make him feel important, and can boost his self-esteem. He will also be in charge for his actions and will hesitate from doing something wrong.

5. Let the child have some choice:

Ask for an opinion before deciding something for the child. It is more applicable for adolescents, who may feel irked when no one asks their preference before taking a decision for them. For example, instead of jumping to a conclusion, “You need a new tuition. I will get it changed tomorrow”, you can say, “I don’t think this tuition is working out well. Shall we get it changed tomorrow?” It is an excellent way to teach the child decision-making, and invariably introduce him to the concept of being responsible.

6. Listen when he says something:

Good parenting is also about listening to your child with rapt attention when he has something to share. It includes his mundane narrative of the day and all his achievements, which all seem trivial but could mean a lot to the child. Do not brush aside his words to hear them another day or override it with something else like “I will listen to you later, first get your room cleaned!” That is disheartening, and although it is just a child, he does sense that you just behaved with him rudely.
Appreciate your little one when he is truthful and honest. Children who are reprimanded for speaking the truth may eventually prefer a lie to save their skin.

7. Set good examples:

An action can talk louder than words, and it is perhaps the best way to make your child understand the importance of something. You set a positive example by practicing something that you always ask your child to do. Children learn healthy habits from parents and are less likely to adopt bad ones when their parents themselves refrain from it.

Remember, bad parenting is your flaw, and it is your responsibility to bring a change. Good parenting is important for a holistic development of the child, while also enabling him to reap its benefits for the rest of his life.


To read the full article, go to MomJunction.com.

How to Be a Strength-Based Parent

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How to Be a Strength-Based Parent

By focusing on our children's strengths, we can help them flourish—and stop being so critical and worried. 

[This article was written by Dr. Lea Waters and can be found in the October, 2, 2018 edition of Greater Good Magazine.]



My stomach knotted as I came home after a long day at work to find my fifteen-year-old son Nick playing “Fortnite.” Again. 

Just yesterday, I’d spoken with him (read: snapped at him) about screen time. Today, an argument began. Again.

He felt angry. I felt frustrated. We both felt misunderstood.

Why do we zoom in on the things about our children that concern us more than the things that delight us? Why do we find it so hard to resist the urge to criticize, nag, and worry?

Blame it on our brains. Our “negativity bias,” an ancient survival mechanism, hardwires us to spot problems in our environment more quickly than we spot the things that are going well. I call it the Dirty Window Syndrome: A clean window doesn’t attract your attention; you look straight through it. But a dirty window is something you notice. What’s more, your focus on one specific part of the window—the dirt—means you’ll often fail to see that the rest of the window is still clean and showing you a beautiful view.

It’s the same with our kids. When things are going well, we take it for granted; but when things are going badly, that spot of dirt on the window snaps our attention into sharp focus. The dirt, in my case Nick’s gaming, grows from a small spot to a big stain. It gets magnified, overshadowing our kids’ positive qualities, thus creating the perfect storm for conflict and for feeling anxious about their future. A useful evolutionary feature that keeps you and your kids safe from danger can be counterproductive to fostering a positive relationship. 

The good news is that by learning how to shift your attention to your child’s strengths (the clean part of the window), you can override the negativity bias, clean the dirt, and prevent the problems from getting blown out of proportion—all while building up resilience and optimism in your children. 

The power of strength-based parenting

Psychologists have identified two broad categories of strengths: talents and character. Talents are performance-based and observable, including things like abilities in sports, music, art, IT, and problem solving. Character strengths are personality-based and internal, including things like grit, curiosity, courage, humor, and kindness. 

Although we tend to focus on our kids’ talents, the two categories of strengths work hand in hand. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has made the most of their talent without also drawing on their character: Imagine the Beatles without creativity or Neil Armstrong without bravery. As parents, we can help our kids enormously by intentionally cultivating their character as much as their talents.

In my own research, children and teenagers who have parents who help them to see and use their strengths enjoy a raft of well-being benefits, including experiencing more positive emotions and flow, being more persistent, feeling more confident, and being more satisfied with their lives. Kids and teens with strength-based parents are also less stressed, cope better with friendship issues, cope better at meeting homework deadlines, and get better grades

These well-being benefits can also spill over into better behavior. In a 2010 study, after parents of pre-schoolers learned strength-based techniques in a 10-session program, the parents reported fewer behavior problems in their children. 

Parents benefit, too. In one of my studies, published in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, parents were split into two groups. One group took a course teaching them how to identify and cultivate their children’s strengths, while the second group had no training and continued to parent as usual. The results showed that the parents who went through the course felt happier with their children and more confident about their own parenting skills after the course compared with beforehand. Those who didn’t go through the course showed no shift in happiness and confidence.

Of course, focusing on strengths isn’t the be-all and end-all of parenting. My own findings have shown that strength-based parenting boosts many positive aspects of a child’s mental health, but doesn’t reduce anxiety (although it does lower stress and depression). In other words, connecting kids to their strengths helps make them feel good but may not necessarily make them feel less bad; the actions needed to reduce ill-being are different from those needed to produce well-being. But with so much focus on fixing children’s problems these days, it’s important to intentionally and independently seek to build well-being in our kids.

How to focus on your kids’ strengths

Strength-based parenting is a style where we focus first on building up what is going right with our children before we focus on fixing what is going wrong. We help our kids to maximize and make the most of their talents and character, and we show them how to use these as leverage points to address weakness and problems.

So how to start? 

Simply notice one strength in your child and comment on it: “You used good judgment today when you decided to pack your school bag ahead of time,” or “Thanks for making me laugh—I really love how funny you are,” or “I know your brother aggravates you, and I was so proud to see you rise above and show forgiveness.” Repeat this strengths spottingapproach as much as you can. Over time, your children will internalize their own strengths in their self-talk. Rather than using negative self-talk like “I’m stupid” or “I’ll never get this” in difficult situations, they might say, “I know I’m persistent and can stick to the task,” or “I’m curious and can learn new things.”

Keep a strengths diary for the next two weeks and, at the end of each day, write down three strengths you saw your kids use in a diary or on your phone. If your child has a phone, you can send them a text the next day letting them know the strengths you saw them use. At the end of the two weeks, you can use your strengths diary to write a strengths letter to your child telling them about the strengths you see in them.

You can also map the strengths of your family. “We did a strengths profile of our family and put it on the fridge. Now we know our strengths, I create opportunities for the kids to use their strengths at home,” one parent said. “I ask Olivia and Jackson to use their zest to welcome guests, while Elijah’s judgment is used to rein in risk. The kids appreciate playing to each others’ strengths within the family.”

Finally, incorporate strengths into the questions you ask your children. When your child is nervous about a big project or event coming up, ask them, “What strengths do you have to help you with this?” If they have had a fight with a friend: “What strengths do you think were missing that may have led to the fight? What strengths will help you make up?”

If you keep practicing these skills, you will find that you can more easily shift out of fix-it (or nag) mode and into strength focus. When challenges arise, choose a strength you’ve identified in your child through the techniques above and suggest how they could use it to handle the situation. For example, I use my daughter’s kindness to help her temper her impatience. A father I’ve worked with helped his athletic son channel his natural competitive spirit into a friendly contest to “win” at finishing homework, instead of having the same old battle about lack of discipline. 

What strength-based parenting does (and does not) do

Strength-based parenting isn’t about lavishing your kids with false and excessive praise. It’s about real feedback based on your child’s actual strengths. And since none of us is so perfect that we’re showing our strengths all the time, there’s no risk of creating a self-involved, narcissistic child who thinks she’s the only special one in the world. If anything, strength-based parenting drives home the point that our strengths make us unique, but they don’t make us special—because everyone has strengths. 

Nor does focusing on strengths mean we ignore problems. Instead, it shows us how to use what we’re good at to work on what we’re not so good at. Knowing their strengths gives children a solid-enough identity to acknowledge and address the areas where they need to improve. Being strength-based allows parents to approach weaknesses from a larger context—seeing the whole window, not just the dirt.

In my case, I’m able to put Nick’s gaming into perspective by reminding myself, “He’s a good kid. He’s creative and funny. He’s social and loyal, and he likes to build good relationships (most of the time).” In the grand scheme of things, he’s heading in the right direction. Despite my overactive worry button, he is actually doing OK. I can breathe a sigh of relief.

When I use a strength-based approach, two important things occur. First, I am able to see that there are strengths involved in gaming that Nick can use in the rest of his life. The self-regulation and problem-solving Nick uses to choose his moves, and the grit he uses to continue even when his points are low, are the same strengths he can use to better monitor his screen time and balance this with his homework. When I comment on the humor and loyalty he uses to cheer up his friends when they die in the game, he sees how he can apply these to his relationships with his family. 

Second, because I am calmer and able to engage more with Nick about the benefits of the game, he is more receptive to our conversations about balancing screen time with his homework, sports, and family time. When he sees that I am not demonizing technology and I am giving him a fair amount of time to play, he knows he also needs to be reasonable when we ask him to get off.

As a result, the negotiations about screen time are far more fruitful and less combative. This doesn’t mean I have all the answers. The conversation about “Fortnite” is an ongoing one, and most days Nick tries to sneak in extra time. But the days I am strength-based are the days when he shuts the game off more quickly and more happily.

Our negativity bias helps us to survive, but our strengths help us to thrive. Showing our children how to harness their strengths is a key tool for their happiness, and a recipe for effective and enjoyable parenting. It’s not a “cure-all’’ but is most definitely a win-win!




About the Author

Setting a Godly Example of Intimacy for our Youth

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Setting a godly example of intimacy for our youth is the topic of a talk presented by Dr. George and Mrs. Eileen Scipione. They were guest speakers for Titus 2 Community’s Christian Marriage Support group on Facebook. This live presentation was given on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

You can view the presentation by clicking the button below or going directly to the link here.


If you wish to discuss this topic or receive help in this area, let me know. Contact me today.

Two of the books referenced in their talk are found below:

Science says happier people are raised by parents who do this

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Science says happier people are raised by parents who do this one thing...

[This post was originally writte by Jeff Hayden and can be found in Inc.com.]

Want your kids to be happier kids? More importantly, want your children to grow up to be happier and more satisfied for the rest of their lives?

Less Controlling and More Caring

A study from the University College of London found that the people who perceived their parents as less psychologically controlling and more caring as they were growing up were likely to be happier and more satisfied as adults.

On the flip side, the people whose parents applied greater psychological control as they were growing up exhibited significantly lower mental well being throughout their adult lives; in fact, the effect was judged to be similar to the recent death of a close friend or relative.

According to Dr. Mai Stafford, the lead author of the study:

"We found that people whose parents showed warmth and responsiveness had higher life satisfaction and better mental wellbeing throughout early, middle and late adulthood. By contrast, psychological control was significantly associated with lower life satisfaction and mental wellbeing. Examples of psychological control include not allowing children to make their own decisions, invading their privacy and fostering dependence."

Psychological control and behavioral control are different

Psychological control differs from behavioral control. Behavioral control includes things like setting curfews, assigning chores, and expecting homework to be completed.

Behavioral control was determined when respondents disagreed with statements like "Gave me as much freedom as I wanted" and "Let me go out as often as I wanted." While that might sound psychologically controlling, it's not. Those parents set limits on certain types of behaviors -- but not on feelings.

Psychological control involves not letting kids make some of their own decisions, not allowing privacy, and encouraging feelings of dependence.

Psychological control was determined when respondents agreed with statements like "Tried to control everything I did" and "Tried to make me feel dependent on her/him."

If the difference still seems fuzzy, here's an explanation from Nancy Darling, Ph.D.:

  • Behavioral control refers to the extent to which parents ask kids to constrain their behavior to meet the needs of others. Strictness is one way to think about it, but I think it is better conceptualized as the parents' expectation that the child conform to high standard--especially when it's difficult. It also captures the extent to which parents follow through on rules they set.
  • Psychological control is the extent to which parents try to control the child's emotional state or beliefs. For example, they may use guilt induction or make the child feel that they won't be loved if they don't do what parents want. The core of psychological control is that it assaults the child's self.

"We know from other studies," says Dr. Stafford, "that if a child shares a secure emotional attachment with their parents, they are better able to form secure attachments in adult life. Parents also give us a stable base from which to explore the world, while warmth and responsiveness has been shown to promote social and emotional development. By contrast, psychological control can limit a child's independence and leave them less able to regulate their own behavior."

How can you, the parent show you care?

What can you do to show that you care? What can you do to maintain some degree of behavioral control... without straying into the psychological control zone?

In the study, "caring" was measured by agreement with statements like "Appeared to understand my problems and worries" and "Was affectionate to me."

That should be easy.

Then feel free to set limits you feel are appropriate. Feel free to have expectations. But then go one step farther: Talk about why you set those limits and why you have those expectations. Then allow your kids to talk, and make sure you listen. You may be able to control certain behaviors, but you can't control every opinion -- so don't try. Show that even though you might disagree, you still respect their right to see things differently. Showing respect is a great way to show you care.

And make sure you let your kids make as many of their own decisions as you can. The best way to learn to make smart choices -- and to take responsibility for our actions -- is to start early.

After all, your ultimate goal is to raise them to be successful and independent adults -- because that's a great recipe for happiness and satisfaction.


The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: MAR 15, 2017