Deciding to become a parent is life-altering. It’s a choice that impacts every aspect of your life—from how you sleep and eat to how you spend your time and money. And as any parent will tell you, it’s also a choice that comes with a lot of responsibility. One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent is what behaviors to allow and discourage in your child. Here are ten things to never let your kids do:
Don’t Let Them Bully Others.
Bullying is a very serious issue. Studies show that bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, and even worse consequences like suicide 1. Bullying leads to low self-esteem, poor school performance, and above all – unhappy kids. So it’s essential never to let your child bully others.
One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to treat others with kindness, compassion, and respect. If they are bullying other children, it sends the message that bullying is acceptable behavior. Make sure your child knows it’s never OK to be mean to another person.
Don’t let them hit or harm others. Kids don’t always understand their strengths, so it’s essential to make sure they know that violence is not an acceptable solution to interpersonal problems. Teach them the right way to resolve conflict.
Don’t Let Them Be Afraid of The World Around Them.
All kids are afraid of something—it’s perfectly natural. But your child should not be living in fear. If you have a fearful child, don’t let them shy away from new experiences or avoid social interactions. Show them that life is full of wonderful opportunities and that their fears are not something to be afraid of.
Fear not only restricts our normal activities but can also negatively impact our health. Research shows that stress and anxiety can increase our risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions 2 3. In addition, it can result in poor sleep, which is linked to obesity, diabetes, and depression.
So teach your child not to be afraid of the world around them. Instead, teach them how to be brave in the face of fear.
Don’t Let Them Call People Names.
When your child is mean to others, it conveys that being rude or disrespectful is acceptable behavior. Don’t let your kids call people names just because they feel like it. Teach them to treat people with kindness and respect.
Name-calling is a very hurtful behavior that can have serious consequences. Not only does name-calling hurt others, but it also damages your child’s self-esteem. Over time, name-calling can lead to anxiety and depression.
Teach your child that name-calling is not acceptable behavior under any circumstances.
Don’t Let Them Say “I Can’t.”
When faced with complex tasks, don’t let your kids say “I can’t”. Instead, teach them how to be persistent and persevere rather than give up at the first sign of trouble.
Sticking with difficult tasks is a critical life skill. So make sure your child knows that their words have power, and they should never use them to give up.
When kids become stuck in the mindset that they can’t do something, it limits their potential. For example, kids who believe they are bad at sports may never even try to play a sport.
Don’t let your child say “I can’t” because saying those words make it too easy to fail. Instead, teach them to try their best even if they fail the first time. For example, if your child wants to learn how to play an instrument, tell them you know they will be playing it very soon.
Teach your child how to graciously acknowledge challenges when they come up and then find ways to overcome them. And be sure your child knows that the only thing they really “can’t” do is give up when things get tough.
Don’t Let Them Live in Front of the TV or Tablet All Day Long.
Artificial light from electronic devices can negatively impact a child’s health. Studies show that too much screen time can lead to obesity, shorter attention spans, and poor school performance 4.
So when your child is watching TV or playing on a tablet, ensure they are doing it in moderation. Teach them how to take breaks from technology and engage in activities that improve their physical and mental health.
Be sure your child knows that technology is a tool, not a recreational activity. And teach them that too much of a good thing can have negative consequences.
Don’t Let Them Think That Being Mean is Funny.
When kids think mean behavior is funny, they are less likely to change their minds about it. For example, if your child likes to call others names, they may laugh and think it’s funny even though it hurts others.
Kids who think bullying is funny are sending the message that aggressive behavior is acceptable. Kids who bully often suffer from low self-esteem, so teaching your child to respect others will help them feel better about themselves too.
Teach your kids to use humor in positive ways that don’t hurt others. For example, teach them how to laugh with others instead of at them. And when they come across someone different from them, encourage them to ask questions in a kind and respectful way.
Teach your kids that bullying has serious consequences, like impacting their ability to make friends and keep existing friendships.
Don’t Let Them Be Alone Too Often.
Don’t let your child be alone too much. Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression in kids and teens, so make sure they spend time with family and friends.
When kids spend too much time alone, they can become withdrawn and isolated themselves. This can cause them to feel lonely, sad, and insecure. So when your child is spending time alone on the weekend or after school, encourage them to do something active with their friends.
Isolation can also lead to anxiety and depression in teens, so be sure your child has someone they can talk to when they are feeling upset.
Kids who spend a lot of time alone are at risk for developing severe mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and even psychosis 5. Kids who spend significant amounts of time alone or isolated from others are more likely to drop out of school.
So make sure your child is always spending time with others, even if it’s “boring” or “stupid.” They should be interacting with others in positive ways that they enjoy, like hanging out with friends or playing sports.
Don’t Let Them Lie.
Lying is unacceptable behavior in any situation, but it’s imperative to teach your child that lying is not acceptable when it comes to safety.
For example, if kids are playing with matches or knives and get hurt, they must always tell the truth about what happened. Lying can have serious consequences in these situations because it could lead to more severe accidents.
So make sure your child knows that telling the truth is always the right thing to do. And encourage them not to keep secrets that could hurt themselves or other people.
Don’t Let Them Take What’s Not Theirs.
Teach your child that they should not take things that do not belong to them. Taking something that doesn’t belong to them is a sign of a much deeper issue.
For example, if a friend forgets their lunch at school, encourage your child to leave it in the office for safekeeping until their friend can pick it up. Show them that taking what’s not theirs will only cause them to suffer too.
So when your child starts preschool, make sure they understand the difference between sharing and stealing. And explain how taking things from others can have long-term consequences.
In addition, teach your child how to fight back against bullies or people who try to take what’s theirs.
These kids usually have low self-esteem and put themselves down, so they might think there’s nothing “wrong” with taking what’s not theirs. And they might even believe that their parents don’t care about them or have abandoned them in some way; the best thing you can do is to show your child that you care, even if they make bad choices.
When they act out or do something wrong, talk to them about their behavior and explain how it makes them feel. Don’t yell at them or be too critical because this will push them away, but be firm and let them know you’re still on their side.
Don’t Let Them Follow Bad Role Models.
Kids who have a strong support system from family and friends are less likely to be influenced by people with bad intentions. So teach your child the importance of surrounding themselves with positive people who make good choices.
Encourage your child to try new things, and help them find a sport or activity they will enjoy. And when they come in contact with people who appear to be trouble, talk to them about their choices and help them avoid common mistakes.
Teach your child always to be a good friend and steer them away from people who might lead them on the wrong path.
Bad behavior can be contagious, so it’s important not to let your child hang out with kids who bully or disrespect others. You should also explain how certain behaviors can impact their future careers.
For example, explain that staying up all night is not conducive to getting good grades or having a successful career later in life. And explain that breaking the law can put them in jail, negatively impacting their ability to stabilize their lives after school is over.
It’s not all bad. We’ve come up with ten things you can do to help your kid become a better person, and we hope these tips will give you some ideas that work for your family. Have any thoughts on how else parents can raise their children? Let us know in the comments below! And remember, kids are only little once – they’ll be grown before you know it!