Examples Of Bad Parenting And What To Do About It

Updated April 2, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

A question that runs through a parent's head often when they are raising their children is: "Am I a bad parent?" While, unfortunately, some parents may need to improve their parenting styles, those who are truly "bad parents" probably never stop to think about it at all. If you are here because of a concern about your parenting, it is clear you care about your children and are hoping for my guidance.

The term "bad parent" may cause people to jump the idea of parents with substance use disorders who prioritize drugs over their kids or absentee parents who only see their kids on holidays. Bad styles of parenting, however, can evolve from the best of intentions.

Healthy parenting is essential for the wellbeing of children and is fundamental for . For example, insufficient and unhealthy parenting can increase a person’s risk for illness, accidents, pregnancy, substance use disorder, school issues, unemployability, and mental health disorders.  Furthermore, poor parenting has been shown in studies to contribute to criminal behavior.

The following article provides several examples of what can be considered "bad parenting." If you see yourself in one or more of these examples, don’t be discouraged. A fortune of life is the ability to change mistakes and behaviors for the good right now. There is time to change and improve your parenting with the first step being the recognition of a problem. Now, you can move on and fix what is going wrong. Read on to learn more on how you have the power to become a better parent. 

#1 You do not ease up on your limits

Wondering what to do to avoid being an example of bad parenting?

It is helpful to set limits and stick to them, but it is also important to expand children's limits as they grow. If you are too restrictive of a parent, you are likely to end up with a rebellious teen. Expanding your child's limits shows that you respect your child as a person and trust them to make the right decisions without constantly peering over their shoulder.

This does not mean that you should abandon the idea of boundaries altogether. Establishing clear boundaries (while giving room for them to make mistakes and explore freedom) helps your child develop self-discipline and set limits for themselves. Boundaries are helpful, but so are keeping the lines of communication. It's important to be open and honest with your child and vice versa. Your child will benefit from knowing that you trust them just as much as they trust you. You can also give out your reasons for expanding your boundaries with your child so that they know exactly where you are coming from, and you can both be on the same page.

#2 You are a pushover

No means no. Period. Giving in to temper tantrums often encourages children to yell until you finally turn your "no" into a "yes." Even if your child remains calm when asking you to do something for the millionth time when you have already said no, you should generally avoid saying yes when you have already said no.

The moment you give in to pressure from your child can move you away from your role as a parent and become your child's friend. While it may sound nice at first, becoming your child's friend may be unhealthy. As a friend, you are no longer acting as a guide, ushering them toward maturity. Instead, your child's respect may decrease while they are encouraged to continue to hound you for things they know you will eventually say yes to.

On some occasions, negotiation is okay. On others, however, parents will benefit by remaining consistent. When the child makes an outrageous demand, making clear to them that the answer is no is important because it shows them that the parent cannot be swayed. In addition to (eventually) avoiding a tantrum, this will also tend to eliminate the possibility of your child getting their hopes up only for you to disappoint them later.

#3 You do not give your child enough responsibilities

Many parents are frustrated with their teenagers, complaining that no matter how often they ask their children, they will not pick up their rooms or mow the lawn. We are adapted to doing everything for our kids when they are young - so much so that it becomes a habit that sticks around until long after children should have been doing things for themselves.

The truth is that you can start as early as preschool in giving children chores to do. Even a four-year-old can be trusted with smaller chores, like helping to put away clothes or cleaning up her smaller messes. Parents should not feel like they are overworking their children by making them do chores early. Instead, helping with the household duties (and making it a fun activity to do together) builds a child's self-esteem by giving them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Chores also teach younger children how to feel part of a group, in this case, the family. This makes transitioning into a school situation easier when placed in situations where they must work to accomplish a task.

If your child often says they "forgot" to do a particular chore, install a chore chart somewhere in the home that they can follow. Younger children will look forward to placing a sticker on the appropriate chore once it has been completed. You can even reward the child with a small prize or a special dinner for accomplishing a week's worth of chores without missing a day.

#4 You resort to intimidating behavior


We are all human, tending to lose our cool from time to time, especially with a child testing our patience. But while it may help you blow off steam in the short term, screaming at your child or wagging a finger does nothing but show your child that you have lost control of the situation and that you are acting on your emotions. This is, of course, exactly what we do not want our children to resort to when they are upset.

When you are rude to your child, communication understandably shuts down because they feel insulted that you act that way. They might stop talking, which angers you further and results in more yelling and finger-pointing.

When you feel your anger coming on, try to recognize it and stop for a second. Take a deep breath and try to relax the tension in your body. Counting can help, even just to 3 or 5. Then, sit and face your child so that you are at the same level. Towering over them can make them feel like you are still authoritative, even if this is not your intention. Rather than point a finger, shove your hands in your pockets or, even better, reach for your child's hands.

When talking to your child about the situation, focus on the problem at hand, not the child. For example, if they broke a glass, do not focus on their lost temper that let to the of breaking the glass. Rather, talk about why their actions resulted in the broken glass and how they can modify their behavior going forward so that something similar does not happen again. If your child gets too worked up, feel free to take a break, rather than force them to work through a situation they may not be ready to face just yet.

#5 You encourage your child to take on more than they can handle

Is your child's schedule as busy as your own? Do they have more play dates, dance recitals, and sports practice than most other children their age? Sure, your child should have an active social life to form healthy relationships and use energy positively but overdoing it can backfire due to the stress of an overactive schedule.

Some ways to know whether your child is overly stressed and overscheduled include:

  • Complaints about having a headache or stomachache
  • Forgetting or refusing to do homework or help with chores around the house
  • Loss of interest in an activity that used to be a favorite, like practicing an instrument or hanging out with friends
  • Performance in school drops

#6 You do not listen to your child

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Wondering what to do to avoid being an example of bad parenting?

Things are changing all the time, from the toys children play with to the issues they experience as teens. Saying "when I was a kid" and comparing your experiences to those of your children often does not add up. Try not to compare your experiences to those of your children because they will not find that helpful.

Instead of telling children what they “should” do in each situation, it is more effective to ask them what they want the outcome of a particular situation to be. From there, you can help them understand how they can achieve a said outcome. You can do this by listening to the options they present and then guiding them to the one that would effectively resolve the situation.

Try to pay close attention to emotions. Listen when they tell you about what they accomplish and the challenges they face every day when they come home from school. It's vitally important as a parent to learn to listen. Encourage your child, let them know they have your support, and ask questions if you feel you need more information to evaluate the situation properly.

Remember that children, situations, and the world are changing all the time—whether you are ready for them to change or not. What used to work when you were a kid may not work now. You must be open to changing needs and expectations and be able to adapt in kind. And above all, try not to stress about being a "bad parent." Your child will forgive you so long as you work on being a better parent and follow through on this important goal.

Reaching for professional counsel

According the American Psychological Association, the primary goals of parenting shared by caregivers around the world include preparing your children for life as adults, keeping them healthy and safe, and teaching them values. The quality of the parent-child relationship is arguably the most important contributing factor to the healthy growth and development of children. This is a huge amount of pressure for a parent to consider and there will be times when the best of parents will doubt their ability to be a “good” parent. Seeking the help of a professional family therapist can help you in the times when you doubt your abilities as a parent, or you simply need someone to work through any problems you and your family are facing. 

Online therapy has proven effective for those seeking help with a wide range of issues, including helping parents who are hoping to find guidance in becoming a better caregiver. Research has shown that families that participate in online therapy find successful methods for coping with challenges together. Individually, parents may learn that they are not alone and gain strategies for getting through the day to day. Therapists at Regain are available to provide you the support you need, from the comfort of your own home, whenever it is convenient for you and your family.


Are you worried about your children and feel like you are bad parent? Do you feel like you have no one to vent to about the daily struggles of parenthood? If you are feeling overwhelmed and hoping for counsel, know you have support available. Reach out to a licensed counselor through Regain for guidance or simply for a shoulder to lean on.

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