The Effects of Bad Parenting on Children
By Loveth Ezeugwu
Parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.
The most common caretaker in parenting is the biological parent(s) of the child in question, although others may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian, aunt, uncle or other family member, or a family friend. Governments and society may have a role in child-rearing as well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised in foster care, or placed in an orphanage. Parenting skills vary, and a parent with good parenting skills may be referred to as a good parent
Parents tend to underestimate the influence that they have on their children, according to a 2007 study that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted. In 2011, the UK’s Department for Education found that children who are exposed to bad parenting are two times more likely to misbehave. Inconsistent disciplinary approaches, poor supervision and physical punishment are poor parenting attributes that can negatively affect children, regardless of their ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
In this article, we’ll look at some bad habits parents fall into, often without realizing it and some effects of bad parenting on our their kids
1. Not Following Through
Guiding children’s behavior through rules and limits is a big part of parenting. At some point in their development, children will experiment with you to see just how serious you are about those boundaries. That’s why parents need to establish and clearly communicate the consequences of breaking those rules.
Here’s the problem: Parents don’t really want to punish their kids. It’s so easy to think that a warning (or two or three) will avoid a fight, save everyone’s feelings and fix the problem. Instead, failing to enforce the consequences of bad behavior just makes your child see you as unreliable and easily manipulated. And since engaging in the bad behavior carries no consequences, your child has no reason to change it. In fact, your child’s behavior may become worse if not appropriately disciplined. Kids want the limits, and they’ll probe until they find them.
If you want to change someone else’s behavior, the best place to start is by changing yours. Set the limit, communicate the consequence and then calmly follow through when your child steps out of line. Be sure to create consequences that have meaning for your child — like taking away a favorite toy for young ones or a cellphone from older kids — and that you’re willing and able to enforce consistently. Consistency is important when you’re trying to change your image as an unreliable parent. But there will be outrage when you first enforce the consequence. After all, from your child’s point of view, if you didn’t mean what you said last time, why should you mean it this time?
In another scenario, parents may tell their children they’ll do something for them or with them, and then don’t. Both of these are examples of failure to follow through. The first deals with discipline; the second is a broken promise. The outcome, however, is the same. When you don’t do what you told your child you would do, you become someone he or she can’t rely on.
2. Not Setting Limits
Children come into the world knowing precious little. They learn almost incidentally by observing the happenings around them and manipulating their surroundings through touch, sound, facial expression and movement. We set physical limits to keep our exploring munchkins from danger. As they grow in size and ability, though, physical limits are inadequate for the sea of behaviors they’ll experiment with. It’s our job as parents to let our kids know which behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t. These limits are essential for safety and household harmony, but they also help children feel secure by showing that you care and that you want to keep them safe. Limits also help your child develop a sense of responsibility for his or her actions.
Limits aren’t negatives. They’re expectations and behavior guidelines that promote safe, healthy growth. Children raised without limits are often fearful of exploring on their own, or they deliberately misbehave in an effort to find someone who cares enough to draw a line [source: Oliver].
If you’ve been living without limits, be patient. Sit down with your child and explain in simple terms what you want him or her to do, and why that behavior is important. It may take time — as well as firmness and perseverance — for both you and your child to learn to stick to the new boundaries.
Keep limits few, basic and clear. Children can’t memorize a book of rules, so focus on behaviors with high importance. Keep in mind your child’s level of maturity and his or her ability to meet certain expectations. This will help you set reasonable behavior guidelines. A toddler would have a hard time staying quiet and still through a two-hour movie, but he or she can learn that we handle problems with words, not fists and teeth.
Limits can actually expand your child’s range of experience. For example, instead of saying no to a request to cook, you can say yes, but only with an adult to help. That limitation allows your child to experiment and learn important skills under safe conditions — until the time comes for you to expand those boundaries.
3. Failing to Stretch Limits
As kids mature, they need more space — more distance from parental protectiveness, a license to make their own decisions and physical and psychological separation from you. It can be hard to accept your child’s growing independence and separateness, and hard to relax your need to protect him or her.
But maturity takes years, guidance and encouragement to develop. It’s up to you to give your son or daughter space he or she needs in increments your child can handle. If you step back from your parent-child relationship from time to time and view your kid from a different perspective, it’s easier to see when your “baby” is ready to handle more responsibility and independence. Failing to relax rules can push a child to rebellious behavior.
Stretching limits involves two-way trust and communication. Don’t just drop the fences. Your kid wants opportunities to safely explore outside the old rules, not the removal of them all. That can be frightening and imply that you no longer care. Re-evaluate boundaries before you change them and decide what’s appropriate for your child at his or her present age and maturity level.
When you think your child is ready for looser rules — or when he or she starts demanding them — talk about it. Listen to your kid’s ideas and reasons for wanting more freedom. It may be entirely different from what you were thinking. Share with your son or daughter why you’re willing to adjust certain boundaries. Did he or she handle a tough decision in a responsible way? Discuss options for expanded rules and come to agreement. This doesn’t mean you give in to everything requested. If a particular request just doesn’t fly with you, explain why. Your willingness to listen and compromise shows your child that you recognize and respect his or her growing maturity. Taking part in deciding the new rules also makes kids feel responsible for sticking to them.
4. Consistently Giving In to Your Kids
You’re sitting in a waiting room with a parent and child. The kid wants something, but the adult says no. The child keeps asking, over and over again, until Mom or Dad finally gives in. The parent put up some token resistance, but in the end, he or she folded like a house of cards. Sound familiar?
Kids start negotiating surprisingly early. They may not be able to form complete sentences, but they can form complete thoughts, including how to get you to do what they want. At first, it’s a charming glimpse into your child’s developing personality, as well as a startling revelation of how well they’ve got you figured out. By the time they hit the tween years, though, negotiation can feel like constant battle. It’s so much easier just to give in and let them have what they want. At least you get a few minutes of peace and quiet.
When you constantly give in to pressure from your child, you’ve given up your role as parent. You’re no longer guiding your child toward responsible behavior and sound decision-making. Meanwhile, your child loses respect for you and keeps arguing for outrageous privileges.
On some points, like expanding certain limits, negotiating and coming to a mutually agreeable compromise is the best route. On others, parents must be a brick wall. When the short answer to a certain request is “no,” and the long answer is “no way,” make it immediately clear to your child that you’re not budging on this issue and they need to move on. This quick and simple “no” saves a lot of agony for both of you, and it eliminates your child getting his or her hopes up, only to have you dash them later on.