40 Dumb And Damaging Things Parents Do To Their Kids

Found on AskReddit.

1. Comparing them to other kids.

“Comparing your kids to other kids.”


2. Comparing them to their siblings.

“Comparing siblings to each other.

My brother was always the problem child and I was the ‘smart’ one. My parents told us this all the time. AT first it made me feel good to be called the better kid- but then I realized that my brother resented me immensely, I couldn’t keep up with the impossible standards my parents set, it was difficult trying to be the perfect daughter all the time, and every minor thing I did wrong was treated like I murdered someone.

It made my brother insecure and unhappy, and I suspect that’s a reason why he got into drugs and doesn’t speak to me anymore. It made me a panicky, anxious perfectionist.

Please, don’t compare your kids to one another. It sucks for both the ‘bad’ kid and the ‘good’ one.”


3. ‘When I was your age…’

“‘When I was your age.’…”


4. ‘Because I said so.’

“Saying ‘because I said so.’ My dad and mom did this to me and I hated it. So now with my daughter, she knows exactly why I say no to something.”


5. ‘Because I’m the parent.’

“Using ‘because I’m the parent’ as reasoning for absolutely anything and everything. My mom always pulled that line, and I never respected when she would discipline me because I couldn’t understand why. Parents – PLEASE use logical reasoning with your children. If you’re going to punish them (or make any choice that will ultimately effect your child’s life) you better damn well have a reason why”


6. Telling them they ruined the parent’s life.

“My mother was famous for telling us how badly we ruined her life. She had me at 18 and my brother at 22, so we took away her youth, her money, her happiness, and her precious time. DO NOT FUCKING DO THIS. It took me well past my teenage years to realize that I am NOT a burden to my family. She will have very little to do with my new family because of it.”


7. Using food as a reward.

“Using food as a reward. Maybe once in a while is okay (‘You were good today so let’s go get some ice cream!’) but it should never be used as a bargaining chip (‘If you clean your room you can have some cookies.’)”


8. Never saying ‘no’ because it might harm them.

“Lately I’ve heard about people never saying ‘no’ to their child because it might harm them. Worst. Idea. Ever.”


9. Solving problems for them rather than teaching them how to solve problems.

“Solving problems for your children rather than teaching solutions and practical skills.”


10. Trying to be their best friend.

“Trying to be friends with your kids. Don’t get me wrong, you should develop a bond with your kids, but when you start being their best friend, they think they can get away with anything, and they will develop bad habits because of it.”


11. Giving them no privacy.

“Giving children no privacy. It honestly fucks with kids’ mental health when someone knows literally every small thing they do. At least it has for me.”


12. Not allowing them to fail.

“Not allowing your kids to fail. Sometimes, kids need to fail at something in order to learn.”


13. Publicly humiliating them.

“The ‘it’s not bad parenting, it’s just teasing’ tactic where you publicly humiliate your kid and pass it off as joking around, even though it’s designed to embarrass/upset the kid (and you would never tolerate a role reversal).

Way too many parents say stuff to deliberately upset their own child and say it’s just teasing to make it seem okay. Which when combined with a ‘You have to respect me or I’ll flip out on you’ environment, means the kid just has to stand there and take it while their grown-ass parent talks about how fat/stupid/gross/ugly/weird they are.”


14. Making threats of punishment and then not following through.

“Making threats of punishment and then not following through. Undermining your credibility is a great way to get them to never pay any attention to you. If you have no intention of following through with punishment, don’t make the threat.”


15. Using them as a tool to inflict emotional pain on their partner.

“From my experience growing up, three things:

Treating your child like a ‘thing’ you deal with and not a person you love.

Withholding love and affection because it makes YOU feel awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassed.

Using your kid as a tool to inflict emotional pain on your partner.

Being a parent is hard. Don’t take it out on your kids.”


16. Using the TV to educate them instead of doing it themselves.

“Using the TV to educate your child instead of doing it yourself.

Never respecting your child private life under any circumstances.”


17. Putting too much emphasis on education and not enough on social skills.

“Putting too much emphasis on education and not enough on developing proper social skills. There must be a balance.”


18. Not understanding that kids have their own stresses, too.

“Understanding that your kids have their own stresses too, even if you don’t know of them all. I remember telling my parents I was stressed at times, but they’d immediately act like I was wrong for assuming I had problems. I was a teen so I was supposed to be carefree or something…but it didn’t happen that way.”


19. Ignoring bad behavior until they finally snap and scream at them.

“Ignoring a bad behavior like interrupting adults talking for a long 10 minutes or so, and then suddenly snapping and screaming at the child. I see so many parents do this.”


20. Helicopter parenting.

“Helicopter parenting. Maybe it’s just my area (New England suburbs), but helicopter parenting is way too popular.

Personally, I think kids should be allowed to take part in normal childhood experiences. My wife and I allow tackle football and hockey. My 6-year-old will be doing both this year. We built a tree house about a month ago and the boys get plenty of use out of that. My two-year-old is a climber and he is able to climb up. We have a trampoline. My 6-year-old is learning to skateboard. He’s out there every day on his ramp and is getting pretty good. I’ll probably take him to the skate park over the summer.

I wouldn’t hand my toddler a shot gun. I don’t allow the kids to play with fireworks or drive the car on the highway. I just don’t restrict everyday childhood experiences that everyone grew up doing. My oldest is only 7 so I guess we have some time for accidental childhood deaths to happen and I wouldn’t call it a success story just yet, but I have noticed that my older two are pretty good about judging how dangerous something is before they do it. They think before they act and make a judgment call. I think that’s probably important as they get older and have to make more judgment calls on their own.

They are statistically more likely to be killed in a car accident (with the way my wife drives, they probably have increased odds) and we do that daily. It would be nice if we could wrap kids in bubbles but we can’t. I had a good friend die due to a childhood accident involving a rope swing. Accidents happen and are unavoidable. I’m not teaching my kids to live in fear by hovering over them and banning anything that may be slightly dangerous.”


21. Not nurturing their interests because they don’t understand them.

“Not nurturing your kid’s interests because you don’t understand them: Back in the 80s and 90s when I was a young buck I was an avid nerd who loved staying inside tinkering with electronics, mostly computers. My dad at the time simply didn’t get the obsession, he always tried to force me to do things I did not want to do like try out for sports (he was an athlete growing up) because he believed that was healthier for kids. I’d get in trouble for spending too much time in my room gaming, he refused to invest in computers even though he could afford it because it would just ‘keep me inside.’

Anyway, the point of this story is I wish growing up I had parents who nurtured my interests. I saw a video of Terry Crews explaining why he got into PC Gaming, it was because his son loved it and he decided to share in that passion which lead them to build their own PC. That shit hit me right in feels.

If your kids have a knack for something, fan the flames of interest because it will lead to a healthier relationship.”


22. Treating them like idiots.

“Treating them like idiots and only adhering to recommended path of development. For example, multiplication is usually learned in second or third grade, I taught my brother about it when he was in pre-school and he picked it up immediately. Thus he was way ahead in math for ~3 years, giving him time to keep studying way ahead. Kids aren’t that dumb, if people worked with them a little more as an individual instead of just relying on what mommy classes preach you’d produce way better kids.”


23. Having more kids to save the marriage.

“Having more kids to save the parents failing relationship.”


24. Not following through with consequences.

“Not following through with consequences.

Not parenting as a team.

Assuming that your kids don’t understand what you’re talking about, even the 2 year olds are listening, understanding and paying attention.”


25. Teaching them how to be successful rather than how to be good people.

“I’d say teaching them that they have to be ‘successful.’ Better to teach them how to be good people.”


26. Sheltering them from the real world.

“Too much sheltering from the real world. Especially with extremely religious parents.”


27. Doing everything for them.

“Doing everything for your kid. YOUR 10-YEAR-OLD SHOULD BE ABLE TO DRESS HIMSELF! This makes for kids who cannot problem solve. I’ve had kids in school not have a chair at their desk so they just stand there. They cannot figure out how to get a chair to sit in. This is not to be confused with laziness. They honestly cannot solve simple problems.”


28. Using digital screens as a babysitter.

“Too many digital screens are shoved in front of kids’ and babies’ faces these days. Teaching kids to use technology as learning is great, and there’s so many apps and programs you can use now, but interaction and real world learning is also needed.

I hate going out to eat and see a parent shove an iPad in their kid’s face to get them to shut up while they eat. Interact with your damn kid. Teach them table manners. Teach them colors or food names. Teach them math on how to add up prices and do tip calculations.

As kids, my parents made sure we were taught to behave in public, and would teach us things about wherever we were. My dad would make us figure out how to do tips in our heads for the waitress. Also make your kid try new foods – chicken fingers and fries shouldn’t be the only thing they’re eating.”


29. Yelling at them and hitting them, then expecting trust and respect.

“Yelling at and hitting your kids one minute, and expecting them to trust and respect you the next minute.”


30. Still using ‘baby talk’ when the kid is old enough to speak complicated words.

“Baby talk, or ‘simplifying speech’ to your children. Kids learn an entire language but big words are supposed to be too difficult? I never understood that mentality.

After my wife and I stopped doing it all of our children spoke in full sentences with words that were around three syllables long before my friend’s kids. Some of my friends stopped doing it after my almost 2-year-old started saying things like, ‘Wow, dat wock is bee-you-tee-fuh!’ (Baby talk used to approximate baby pronunciation). Lol, some of my son’s first words were beautiful, gorgeous (go-jee-us) and actually (ax-show-we).

My wife stopped baby talking and took it further than I ever could have. All vocabulary words my kids knew are because of my amazing wife. All I did was ask for no more speaking ‘down’ to the kids. She just did her amazing mother thing and, of course, was (and is) amazing.”


31. Not apologizing when they make a mistake.

“Not apologizing when you make a mistake for fear that it will undermine you as an authority figure.”


32. Using embarrassment as a punishment.

“Using embarrassment as a punishment.

E.g., Putting it on social media, making them do an embarrassing thing (e.g., go in their underpants) in public, changing their looks (e.g., shaving their head), etc.

That’s how people end up getting picked on. And can go viral and pop up when an employer is doing a background check on them, and really affect their chances of becoming employed.

Plus, if spotted by mean people, it can end up goodness-knows-where (e.g Children in their underpants on some creep’s hard-drive) or be used to abuse them (e.g., teasing them) and thus make their childhood a really shitty experience.”


33. Denying them food as punishment.

“In some ‘how to train your kid’ books it says deny food to make them listen. If that’s not fucked up I don’t what is.”


34. Doing one thing and saying another.

“Consistency between what’s said and what’s done. It goes both ways, parents that don’t deliver promises they make are just as bad as ones that don’t deliver consequences they threaten.

Example I:
Parent, ‘I’m not going to XYZ if you don’t XYZ.’ *Child doesn’t do XYZ *Parent does XYZ anyway.

Example II:
Parent, ‘If you’re XYZ I’ll XYZ for you.’ *Child IS XYZ *Parent never XYZs

And etc.”


35. Making fun of their interests.

“Make fun of your kid when they’re showing you something they’re clearly working on.

Like my mother I love dancing, but am shit at it Took a dance class in college anyways because it’s fun.

Mom throws a fit because she wants to see Begrudgingly oblige Proceeds to laugh her head off and offer to everyone she knows a special showing of my shit dancing on the spot.

And that’s why Okasan, I don’t show you shit anymore.”


36. Appeasing them just to stop them from throwing a tantrum.

“Appeasing your child when they cry or throw a tantrum by giving them what you had initially refused just to get them to stop screaming. You are rewarding them for throwing a tantrum and training their mind to continue behaving that way… that shit will be a foundation of their behavior for the rest of their life.”


37. Negative reinforcement.

“Negative reinforcement.

Studies have proven that positive reinforcement is way more effective. Yet people still threaten kids.

And without reinforcement, everything else falls out of place. You can’t teach a kid much if you can’t guide his path in key areas. So it snowballs out of control.”


38. Giving them zero privacy.

“Really strict parents taking their kid’s phone to check all their texts and also checking all their internet history on their computer. Taking their door off their room after a certain age. Never letting them go anywhere unless the parent knows exactly where they are going and who they will be with and what they will be doing the entire time. Basically not giving their kid any type of privacy and thus destroying the kid’s ability to confide in and trust their parent.”


39. Over-coddling them.

“Running to coddle the child every time they fall down or throw a tantrum.”


40. Not letting them fail and learn from mistakes.

“Not letting your kid fail and learn from mistakes. Its OK if the kid doesn’t win or gets in trouble with a teacher/etc. its not a complete reflection on you – how you respond to it is. Generally speaking, if your kid get a bad grade or got in trouble – he probably deserved it. Let him take the consequence.”

coachkeithpettit Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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