Bad parenting trait #1: you talk at your child instead of with them
Communication between parent and child can be a tricky thing, especially as children become older and have opinions of their own. These traits may have come from advice from your parents, while others you may have picked up on your own. Dr Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist known for her focus on the mental health of adolescents and teens, says communicating in the right way is key for parents. “Toxic parents are known for not listening to their kids, but instead, talking over them or at them,” she says. “If parents recognise themselves doing this they should make a concerted effort to remain silent and listen, listen, and listen some more. If kids feel listened to they will talk more and confide more.
Bad parenting trait #2: you get lost in negative thoughts
Parents can have the tendency to get lost in their own thoughts, and for toxic parents, this behaviour can lead to a negative response in their children. Dr Jeffrey Bernstein, an internationally recognised child psychology expert says that a parent’s thoughts are often at the root of negative behaviour in children. He explains, “No kid is perfect, but parents often don’t realise just how much their own thoughts, rather than their children’s behaviour, contribute to their own emotions.” Parents that catch themselves in a cycle of negative thinking should take a step back and rephrase their negative thoughts into more positive ones. For example, rephrasing the thought “He’s being such a brat today,” into “He’s having a hard time today, I wonder what’s going on,” can have a big impact on your interaction with your child.
Bad parenting trait #3: you don't manage your own frustrations
Parenting is fraught with frustrations on a daily basis, and recognising these trigger points can be the first step in making life easier. Dr Bernstein believes that parents can recognise how their own frustrations impact their child’s behaviour. “When you learn to identify and manage your own parenting frustrations, you’ll be amazed at how your child’s challenging behaviours can quickly improve,” he says. This might mean that you schedule extra time into your morning routine to prepare for a lengthy breakfast, or the five extra minutes your child needs to put her shoes on just right. Instead of berating your child for your own lack of planning, find ways to reduce the frustration before it begins.