Nobody wants to be told how to bring up their child. It’s straight-up rude. Plus every child is different. No one should challenge your parenting as if a one-size-fits-all parenting approach exists. It’s not fair.
What’s even worse is being told that you’re a toxic mom or dad. Now that’ll cross the line.
A toxic parent’s negative behaviour inflicts emotional damage onto their kid. Sometimes it may be on purpose, while most times it’s not. Such parents may have carried forward narcissistic behaviour from their own upbringing.
Healthy parenting needs conscious decision-making and effort, it just doesn’t come. Parents need to watch out their own behaviour to ensure they don’t affect their children negatively.
So, are you practising tough love or are you being toxic? Here are tips to avoid becoming the latter.
- Not paying close attention to your child’s emotional well-being
Do you at times mock your kid when they are crying? Do you feel that you don’t have time for your teenager’s petty feelings?
This is a form of toxic parenting. It doesn’t matter if you pay their fees on time, feed, clothe and take them to church or mosque. They need you to understand why they are sad or grumpy.
Emotional health is as important as any other facet of your child’s upbringing. Mental health problems are experienced by kids who have gone through emotional abuse just as in those who have experiences in physical and sexual abuse.
Kids raised this way grow up feeling inadequate and unworthy of love and attention-Yet it doesn’t take away the need to be loved and appreciated. It’s pretty messed up.
- Let your child shine
Don’t keep bringing up your own success whenever your child succeeds in something. Toxic parents seem like they are in a competition with their children or even dismiss their success to mere luck.
A good parent feels proud and calls for celebration whenever their child excels. No matter how small the progress is.
- Monitor your criticism
A little criticism is good for growth. However, too much of it would damage a child’s emotional health. Children are often looking for affirmation from parents and so if you are mostly criticizing them, they’ll have problems in future.
Instead of making the child feel criticized and not celebrated all the time, make a point to celebrate the good choices they’ve made.
- Don’t yell at your kids
It is okay to be the authority figure. But don’t let it get to the point where kids fear you. While disciplining your kids, let it be in love.
Cruel parents scream at their kids, not to correct them, but to relay their frustrations on them. When screaming at your child, you’re more likely to have emotions take over. You’ll find yourself calling your child names and saying hurtful words like,
“What did I do to deserve such an ungrateful child?”
The kid might not show it, but they will always remember those words.
- Be positive around your kids
Your children are not responsible for the bad economy or the poor government policy. Don’t complain to them. There are parents who will even gossip about relatives around their children. This is not healthy.
Neuroscientists have linked negativity to increased stress and unhappiness in children. If it goes unchecked, negativity can destroy family relationships and cause emotional harm. Positivity, on the other hand, encourages resilience in children as they grow up. Such kids are more likely to end up in loving relationships and fulfilling jobs.
- Let your children breathe
Respect your children’s boundaries. Don’t meddle with your kids’ relationships or snoop around their belongings without their consent. You don’t have to be in control of every aspect of their life.
Asserting harsh authoritative control over your kids could affect them even as adults. Give your child space to grow. Your work should be offering unwavering guidance, support and love despite the choices they make.
- Deal with your drug problem
Parents who abuse drugs are toxic to their children. Such kids are exposed to problems such as violence, physical and mental abuse, and lack of basic needs. They suffer neglect in the worst possible way. Drug users are less in control of their behaviour or words in the presence of their children.
Due to unpredictable behaviour, inadequate care and lack of stable family structure, kids end up having problems in future. If you or your spouse is suffering from drug addiction, find help.
- Talk less, listen more
Children need to be heard. To earn their trust, ensure that you listen to them and avoid oversharing. It’s not always about you.
As noted by Brown University, one of the signs of toxic parenting would be using kids to respond to the physical and/or emotional needs of the parent. Don’t let your child sit all night listening to how depressed you are or how unsafe you feel. Talk to a therapist and be there for your child.
- Be sensitive to your children’s insecurities
It’s not okay to keep making fun of your kid’s insecurities. Just as adults do, kids struggle with insecurities such as weight, looks and height. Don’t be the one to call your kid fatty or dwarfie. This will cause them to grow up with poor self-image and low self-esteem.
Labeling kids according to some of their negative behaviour is highly toxic. Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a child psychology expert and author of ’10 Days to a Less Defiant Child’ told Reader’s Digest that such toxic labels could result in kids seeing themselves in a negative light.
Your children become demotivated about making positive changes and see themselves as lazy, selfish, problematic or inconsiderate. They end up carrying the toxic baggage to their adulthood and are likely to transfer such insecurities to their kids.
- Don’t use guilt to get your way
Be careful not to manipulate your children through mind games and guilt tripping them. Some parents have the tendency to remind their kids of what they have done for them to coerce them into certain favours.
A child shouldn’t work to earn their parent’s love. It is also unfair to withdraw love and attention whenever a child doesn’t do what you want them to do.