16 Signs of Bad Parenting And 7 Tips To Change

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At times, it is not the child’s fault but bad parenting that can have lasting effects on the child’s psyche and behavior. Of course, as parents, you only want the best for your children. But this same instinct may lead to parenting behaviors that can be detrimental to your child’s development. Although it may not be intentional, once you’ve spoken or done something to leave them hurt and scarred, it cannot be undone.

For most, “bad parenting” is a myth because they assume that no parent would do anything bad for their children. But it’s the harsh words or harsh rules and punishments that can leave a long-lasting negative impact on them. So, in this post, we tell you all about it, including the signs of a bad parent and ways to become a good one.

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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 take it without authorization.

13. Pampering to the point the child becomes arrogant:

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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:

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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:

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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 others: 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.
  1. 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 and other parent-child relational issues. 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).
  1. 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 ineffective parent later in life.
  1. 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 overcome 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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.

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 makes 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the causes of bad parenting?

Bad parenting could result from substance or drug abuse, egoism, lack of education, poverty, having an unplanned child, or inability to fulfill career goals. In some cases, marital problems, pressure at work, and financial problems could also be the reasons.

2. What are the biggest parenting mistakes?

Parents could commit certain mistakes knowingly or unknowingly. Some common parenting mistakes include being too strict with children, not allowing them to speak or explore freely, taking them for granted, not paying attention to their needs, and being overly possessive. If you could relate to any of these, try to avoid them and work on yourself, so your children are not affected.

Bad parenting is a consequence of a parent’s actions that could harm a child’s psychological and behavioral aspects. For example, it could be unintended acts, including too much pampering, hitting a child publicly, not motivating, supporting, or loving them enough. Bad parenting could hamper a child’s physical and emotional well-being and have long-term consequences. Therefore, it is best to incorporate better parenting approaches and refrain from hurting your child. Moreover, right parenting is crucial for the child’s holistic development and future.

Infographic: What Causes Bad Parenting?

Bad parenting adversely affects children, but do you know why a parent or parents behave badly with their children? This infographic shares different factors that can make parents unintentionally neglect their child’s physical, social, and emotional needs.

reasons for parents insufficient support to children [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

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sanjana lagudu

Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy from Andhra University and post graduation in management from GITAM Institute of Management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer. Later, she completely moved into content writing and began working as a full-time content writer. Sanjana's articles in MomJunction cover topics related to...
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Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena

(PhD (Counseling Psychology))
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena is a board licensed therapist in the USA and Puerto Rico with a specialty in couples, families, and relationships. Dr. Carlos possesses a PhD in Counseling Psychology granted at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. His two-decade professional experience also includes scientific research in family emotional and relational processes and its effect on psychological functioning. Dr....
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