Being an Asian Kid, I was born and raised in a parenting system surrounding a lot of cousins in family and kids in the neighborhood.
On the positive side, It was quite a blessing as I had too many friends to play with, to enjoy little things with, and to share all my childhood adventures and crimes with. On the negative side, It was quite stressful as a society made these kids my competition and made me their competition in studies, extracurriculars, and all the things we used to do.
As a result, the friendship and the fun started to fade out slowly from our relationships and all there was left was pressure to be greater than everyone else in every aspect, the seeds of jealousy and the toxic competitor mindset that was injected into our minds by our society and by our family. I am not the only one who has experienced it, unfortunately, these toxic styles of parenting are rooted in every family, every culture, and every country.
If you have made it to the this paragraph then now you must have realized that the writer is not a therapist or child’s mental health expert. I am a 25 years old adult who is a mental health advocate. My perspectives in this post on toxic styles of parenting are purely based on my experience and observations.
The toxic styles that I intend to share are unfortunately common in our culture and almost every kid or adult can relate to them. Some of these most practiced techniques are:
Comparing your kid to other kids
Comparison to other kids is a root cause of many mental disorders in children i.e. inferiority complex, the strong realization of never being good enough, low confidence, low self-esteem, and lack of self-love and is one of the most emotionally damaging styles of parenting. Please know that:
- Just because your brother’s kid is pursuing medicine or engineering field and your kid wants to become an artist does mean your kid is any less than him.
- Just because your sister’s daughter is married at 20 and your daughter is not married at 25 because her priority is her career does mean the married one is successful in her life and your daughter is unsuccessful and late.
- Just because your neighbor’s son offers prayers regularly and your son is not consistent does not mean your son is a faithless person and the neighbour’s son is the ultimate representation of faith.
- Just because your neighbor’s kids scored 90% in exams and your kid scored 80% does not mean your kid has any less potential than him. Grades can never measure once’s brilliance and capability.
If you are one of those parents who compare their kids to others, it is important for you to acknowledge that every human being is created differently by God, every human mind works differently and every human being has the freedom to choose their life paths. Comparing does no good to your kid, it only creates psychological and emotional issues in their mind. Stop doing this to your children and let them be the person they want to be.
Punishing your kid on small mistakes
Punishing your kids on small mistakes stops them from trying something new because it creates a fear in their minds that every time they will make a mistake they will be punished for it. This fear stops your kids from exploring their skills, bringing out their creative side, trying new hobbies, and taking risks for the good. The bottom line is that if you always punish your kids for small mistakes, it will eventually stop them to be their real self and you will be the left with a kid who is unhappy, unsatisfied, and emotionally damaged. It’s time to self-reflect and ask yourself:
- Are you the kind of parent who punishes their kid for playing with mud in rain?
- Are you the kind of parent who punishes their kid for skipping school to spend a day with friends?
- Are you the kind of parent who punishes their kid for accidentally breaking your favorite grocery set?
- Are you the kind of parent who punishes their kid for coming home late after spending fun time with friends?
- Are you the kind of parent who punishes their kid for speaking out for themselves?
If you are a parent who punishes kids over small mistakes, you have no idea what kind of damage you are doing to them unknowingly. Instead of punishing them, let them learn from their own mistakes, let them try and fail and try again till they learn to do it in the right way. Help them realize their mistakes not by punishing them but by guiding them. And even if they repeat that mistake, there are many healthy ways to confront but punishment is not one of them. And most importantly don’t punish them for doing the good things that make them happy, feel alive, be l more creative, and become their best version.
Neglecting your kid’s emotional needs
Neglecting the emotional needs of your child creates a whole lot of gaps in their personalities which later turns out damaging both mentally and emotionally. Neglect is another form of abandonment and by abandoning your child you are willingly depriving your child of the emotional, mental, physical, and financial support. Abandonment and neglect do not always mean being physicaly absent, it is also your small actions that make your child feel unwanted and neglected. Answering the following questions to your own self will let you know if you are an abandoning parent or not. So ask yourself:
- What do you do when your kid cries over a hurtful thing? Do you console them, comfort them, or just tell them to get it over with and say that it is not a big deal?
- How often do you hug your kid and tell them they are amazing and they are doing great?
- What do you do when your kids tell you about their achievements? Do you celebrate their success or just give them a cold appreciation?
- What do you do when your kid tells you that someone is harassing them or bullying them at school, college, or any other place? Do you just ask them to ignore it or do you take action against it and help them stand for themselves?
For the sake of your child’s mental health, it is very important to take care of their emotional, mental, physical, and financial needs too. Hug them if they are not feeling okay, celebrate their small victories, stand up for them when someone is hurting them, fight for your kids and most importantly be there for your kids when they need you the most.
If you are not taking care of your kid’s emotional needs, they will eventually seek other options for it and these options can not always be good for them.
Expecting your kid to be a perfectionist
From my kindergarten to my high school’s education, my mother always expected me to be in Top 3 students of the class and I always met her expectations. She did not force me to be a top student but she did not like it either when I was not in Top 3 and just like my mother, many parents out there have done this or they are doing this to their kids. Toxic perfectionism comes in different forms.
- You want your kids to be perfect in all fields of their life and do everything to make it happen.
- This works in your favor because you get a lot of appreciation and good scores from your friends, from teachers, and your family members for raising such a brilliant child.
- Your child suddenly becomes everyone’s favorite kid and now your kid has to live up to these standards his/her entire life just to make you happy.
This destroys your kid’s mental health as an adult because in order to become a perfectionist, to be great at everything, your kid is always striving to achieve more and more, and this vicious cycle never ends. It leaves your kid with a deep realization of dissatisfaction and failure and as a result, it creates mental health-related issues in your child such as depression, stress, and anxiety.
Being a parent you need to understand that it’s okay for your child to be not perfect always, to not get the highest grades in class, to not bring a trophy, and to not excel at everything.
You have seen many examples of kids committing suicide because the pressure of studying hard for exams is too high, because they fail in exams, they don’t get a job and they fail to make you happy. Please don’t put your kids in situations where they end up feeling unaccomplished with their lives and finally commit suicide because they always have the pressure of being perfect.
The bottom line
The different styles of parenting I addressed above are very common in every culture, country, and family, and unfortunately, they are often not seen as toxic rather than seen as normal. One reason is that our parents and our society is not as educated on the mental health of a child as you and I are and it’s not their fault because unlike you and me they did not get a chance, opportunity, or resources to know the difference between healthy styles of parenting and unhealthy styles of parenting.
But luckily, there are those people among us too who understand and acknowledge the importance of a child’s mental health. I am one of those people and I have played my part in spreading awareness.
Are you gonna play your part too? If yes then please hit the share button below and spread the word.
This article was originally published on TheGrowthinsider.com