15 Things parents should never do to their child


Kevin Mangelschots

We should encourage our children to explore and improve rather than overprotect them. That’s because mothering them too much will lead to problems later on in life.

I think a lot of parents are well-meaning, but often too well-intentioned for the sake of their children. Sometimes to the point of insanity.

I compiled this list of 15 things parents should never do to their children because I want our youth, as well as our parents, to succeed.

Image of a wooden stop sign.

  1. Try to make the decisions for them

    Every individual is different. Thus, so are our children. The end goal should be to let them grow into their personality instead of trying to make the decisions for them.

    They need to learn to make their own choices, both the good and the bad ones. They are going to make some bad decisions, but which person didn’t at some point in their life?

    Fun fact: Did you know that most people regret the chances they didn’t take the most rather than the bad decisions they made? Let this be a guideline for your own, and your children’s life.

    Overprotecting them won’t stop them from making mistakes or failing. It will only prolong the inevitable. It will cause them to make even more bad decisions when they need to make their judgments eventually without the guidance and protection from their parents.

    What you should be monitoring instead, is that they don’t make very bad/risky decisions like starting to do drugs, robbing, etc.

    And even this is not entirely in your control. The best thing you can do is be an upstanding and morally decent example for them. Teach them the right values and morals so that they know how to carry themselves in the world. Treat them how you would like to be treated.

  2. Force them into something

    The quote, “Good ideas don't require force” written on a yellow and black background.

    Forcing someone into doing something they don’t want to do, no matter who or what it is, will only result in a pyrrhic victory.

    While you might get the result you set out to achieve for a short while, it will not last, and the child, or anyone else for that matter will in the best case cease that behavior shortly. In the worst case, they’ll turn resentful and start to detest you.

    Let’s take sports as an example. Do you think your child will grow to enjoy sports when they’re being forced to play soccer if they would much rather be playing baseball?

    It’s good to encourage your child to experience different kinds of hobbies/sports. But make sure that they choose something that aligns with their interests. Only then will they be, and remain, intrinsically motivated, which is always better and longer lasting than being solely extrinsically motivated.

  3. Doing everything for them

    The quote, “everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do just for practice” written in white letters.

    One of the things parents should never do to their children is do everything for them by taking all the work out of their hands.

    There are indeed some things that the child is not ready for, or the task is (depending on the age) simply too dangerous for them to perform safely.

    However, taking everything out of their hands by doing everything for them will not let them learn the necessary skills that they’re going to need to survive on their own somewhere later on in life.

    Not only that, it will only teach them a poor attitude, seeing as it promotes laziness due to being spoiled.

    Rather, encourage and actively teach them new skills. Let them perform these tasks themselves after they acquire the necessary skill set to complete them. Like doing the dishes, or mowing the lawn, for example.

    Letting them complete these tasks with success is key here since you want them to have a successful/positive experience with that given task. This way, the child will be much more motivated to complete that same task again somewhere in the future.

  4. Reward them for every little, simple thing they do

    Illustration of a present.

    Rewards are a powerful and very useful tool to promote certain behaviors. However, as with all the things in life, if you have too much of something, it starts to become common and will begin losing its value.

    If your kid gets good grades in school, you can buy them a present to reward them, of course. But if they help to set the table before dinner, does that need to be rewarded every time? The answer is no, you shouldn’t constantly reward someone for employing the correct behavior.

    I think the rewards should be spared for more “special” occasions. Or when they successfully perform a new task, for example.

  5. Teach them that school and a career are everything

    Image of a young child in school holding a book in front of a blackboard.

    There’s more to life than just school or work. Not saying that both don’t play an important role in life because let’s face it, getting a degree will help you get more opportunities in life. It also makes it easier to find work which is necessary to survive.

    Nevertheless, there are some things in life that money just can’t buy. Like a loving family, or close friends who support you in difficult times, for instance.

    Furthermore, a degree is also no guarantee for success. As I said before, it might grant you more chances, but someone without a degree can become equally, if not more successful if they have the necessary skills to apply themselves.

    People have this strange presumption that having a degree means you are qualified to practice that given work.

    I argue however that not everyone who completed their degree is qualified, or has the necessary skills to perform the job safely and effectively. Theoretical knowledge is not the same as practical experience.

    Is every electrician who got a degree from school automatically a better electrician than those who taught themselves or learned it from their mentor? Does getting the piece of paper that school rewards you with make you a better electrician? It can, but most certainly not always.

    A famous example is Bill Gates. He quit college but went on to become one of the most important, successful, rich, and well-meaning businessmen in history.

  6. Ask the same thing multiple times without effect

    Image of a child writing “I must do my homework” multiple times on a blackboard with white chalk.

    Respect needs to go both ways. If you tell your child to stop doing something a couple of times, and they still keep repeating their poor behavior, then it’s time to let them know what’s up and that you mean what you’re saying. In the end, words are meaningless without action.

    As we said before, things start to lose their value once they get too common. It’s the same thing with words.

    Because the kid will figure out very quickly that you are not true to your word. They’ll know that they can get away with that poor behavior many times before that same statement means that they have to stop or suffer the consequences.

    Thus, repeating the same words over and over again without effect makes them lose their value. Kids are clever like that!

  7. Talk for them

    Your child should learn to talk and stand up for themself.

    If someone asks them a question, then let them answer it as well as they can. This way, they’ll learn the necessary social skills to succeed in life. We all like to be paid attention to, which is basically what talking to each other is. Don’t deny them this opportunity.

  8. Take credit for their success

    In the best case of raising your children, you take credit for helping them grow. But what they achieve is due to themselves.

    Let them feel proud of what they’ve achieved. Don’t try to steal their spotlight, or take the credit for their hard work. Be happy for them, and spur them on to improve themselves and the world even more.

  9. Interfere with their personal life

    The quote, “keep calm and do not interrupt” written in black letters on a white background.

    Their personal life is exactly that, personal. You should try to value their privacy. And if you are worried that for example, they have bad friends who use drugs, then it’s better to ask them rather than starting to meddle with their privacy.

    Nobody likes it when people invade their personal space like that without asking for permission. So don’t do the things you don’t want other people to do to you.

  10. Set a bad example

    People, and especially children, often end up mimicking the behavior of others who they look up to. Children, as a rule, are also more easily influenced than grown adults. (Even though there are exceptions to this rule.)

    This means that there is an increased chance that your child will also start smoking and drinking heavily if you as a parent do these things since they mimic your behavior.

    Also, how are you going to nag your child for smoking if you do so yourself? Your rules and arguments will have little weight to them if you don’t apply these same regulations for yourself.

  11. Lie to your children

    Image of the quote, “a lie told often enough becomes the truth” written in white letters by Vladimir Lenin.

    Honesty is often the best policy.

    However, being honest is a long-term investment, and the benefits are not always immediately visible. In the short term, lying is often more rewarding, as we immediately get the desired results. This is why lying is so addictive. Especially when we get away with telling these lies!

    But in the end, the truth always rises from beneath the surface, and you’ll find that you might have dug yourself a very big hole that you might not escape from anymore.

    So teach your children to tell the truth or, at the very least, not to lie.

  12. Humiliate them

    Nobody likes it when people make a fool of them. Don’t try to degrade them, as it will probably have long-lasting negative effects.

    Encourage them to grow and challenge themselves. And if they do happen to do something wrong, try to make it clear respectfully what they can improve on in a manner that will make them excited to improve, and do so in the future.

  13. Not listening to them

    Everyone likes it when people pay attention to them.

    Listening to each other is a showing of respect and being paid attention to. And since we want our children to treat others with respect, it’s good to listen to what signals our children are sending our way by setting the right example.

  14. Not spending time with them

    Attention is vital for our growth. People need so little encouragement to make them excited and engaged to learn new skills and to better themselves.

    Love is important for creating steady, trusting, and enduring relationships. Both socially and romantically.

    You should spend a lot of time with your kid(s) and give them your attention if you want your child to become socially adept.

  15. Try to mold them into your mirror image

    A happy, smiling woman looking in the mirror while holding her head with both hands.

    Every person is unique. With each their strengths, but also weaknesses. This is what makes every person in this world so exciting and different from each other.

    The goal is to let them develop and use their natural strengths to better themselves in addition to the world. Let them do the things that excite them. Intrinsic motivation is one of the most essential factors for permanent growth.

    When was the last time you saw a content, fulfilled person who did what others told them to do rather than doing the things that truly interest them?

Final note

The quote, “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you” written in black letters on a piece of wood.

Treat your kids how you want to be treated yourself. Try to teach them the essential values, and how to make thoughtful decisions.

But realize that in the end, the only thing you can truly do is lead by example. That’s why you should practice what you preach.