5 Things Good Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids

Love & Learn 27

As parents, we try to do right by our kids. We want them to grow up to be smart and successful but, you know, in a balanced way. We want them to be confident but not cocky. We want them to be healthy but not vain over their physical abilities or appearances. Moral but not haughty, intelligent but not a smart aleck, yada yada, you get the picture.

So we parents try our best to raise our kids, but there are some things even the best parents do that turn out to be ultimately bad for our kids. Think you’re doing everything right? Think again. Here are five things that good parents do that end up messing up their kids.

  1. Telling Them They’re Smart. Did you know that 85 percent of American parents believe it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart? I fully admit to being in that majority. But as it turns out, labeling your child as smart may cause them to underperform. Instead, tell them that they worked hard. Psychologist Carol Dweck says, “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control ... they come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
  2. Keeping Them Happy. Of course we want our kids to be happy in general, but that doesn’t mean they won’t go through bouts of disappointment or get an occasional case of the sads. It’s more important to let them know that feelings are just feelings -- it’s how we respond to them that matters.
  3. Rescuing Them. How else are kids supposed to learn that there are natural consequences for their actions (or lack thereof) if we parents are always coming in and rescuing them? So if they fail a class, don’t try to cajole the teacher into letting them do some easy extra credit; let them retake it. Nothing like a little summer school to motivate kids to apply themselves during the school year.
  4. Making Excuses. Similarly, we’d do our kids a great favor by not making excuses for them. If they didn’t write a thank-you note to your aunt for their birthday gift, it isn’t because they were too busy, it’s because they didn’t do it. Now if they did do it, and you forgot to put it in the mail, then that’s your mistake to own. Not that that has ever happened around here ...
  5. Putting Them First. Your little sweeties may be your precious darlings, but really, they’re just kids that will someday be grown up people. Let’s please stop with this entitlement attitude? No, your needs do not trump everyone else’s by virtue of your existence. Take a number.

Are you “guilty” of any of these parenting sins?

Image via Pewari/Flickr

behavior, discipline, education, family, grades, independence, kid activities, kid health


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Sarah... SarahHall58

I actually agree with all of these. I work in a population of teenagers and a lot of them, their problems are their parents. They have become entitled and rude. As a psychologist and a nurse, I agree with these. These are good ways of still showing your kids how much they mean to you and how wonderful they are without creating entitled adults. First article on parenting I think I've actually agreed with. The horrible little monsters you create now are the same ones I parent as adults on a daily basis in the psychiatric hospital.

sandc... sandcastlelove

Usually I don't really agree with a lot of these kind of articles, but this is completely true. I'm only 20 and I still see this kind of thing in people my age or older. And don't even get me started on teenagers.

Also, Sarah, do you think maybe, if it's not to much trouble, you could tell me a little bit about what being a psychologist in a psychiatric hospital is like? I know I'm going to major in psychology, but there are so many fields to go in, and there's only so much info you can get online. So if it isn't to troublesome, would you tell me a bit about it?

nonmember avatar April

Number 3 is causing me SO much angst right now. My oldest had a huge project to do. and she did it, wonderfully. it was creative, smart and she worked so hard on it. But one of the papers attached to it came unglued in the hallway and disappeared. Instead of taking initiative, and asking the teacher if she could have another set of questions to do in class or turn in at the end of the day, she did nothing. And will probably get a C now. I have been pretty much sitting on my hands not to email her science teacher.

B1Bomber B1Bomber

Everything in moderation. All of these are acceptable in some circumstances and not in others.

Rachael Duckett

Every kid and family is different. I tell my daughter she's smart because she is. It doesn't make her work any less hard. At all.  Children should come first. That's what happens when you have kids. I do agree with not making excuses if they do something they shouldn't do. But don't you think even a little part of the reason kids are so screwed up right now is because parents don't pay any attention anymore? Teenagers suck pretty much no matter what. 

Laura Frame

The only one I commit is telling my children they are smart - but I see no problem with that. When they say/do something that is truly smart to me, I tell them! I don't just tell them to tell them, if they deserve it, then why not?

MamatoKy MamatoKy

My daughters need will always come frist, over everything. I'm so sick of people saying "they're only kids, they'll grow up and move out one day". While that is true, it still doesnt mean that I have to put my daughters needs on the back burner because "shes only a kid". And not to mention - do you watch the news? Maybe what we need to do is be a little more active in our childrens lives and give them what they need, so that ways they are not on the FBI's Most Wanted List!!!!!!!!!!!

nonmember avatar MissLady

Kids and Youth seem to be raised quite differently than I was, and I am only 27! They do not seem to have the same notion of what consequences to their actions are, as parents seem to step in too much and 'mollycoddle' their children. This doesn't do them any favors and hinders them as they progress into a needy adult life, always co-dependant on their parents.

Roche... RochesterGal

I always put my kids interest first, they are in college now and I don't regret it; the time flew by so quick.

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