How many kids do you know who suffered lifelong trauma due to their appalling upbringing? Parenting is an art. It should be taught in schools. Here are some parenting tips to avoid psychological damage before the rot sets in.
Here is the answer I wrote on this in Quora.
What is the most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child?
Children’s rights? The rights to safety, education, food and good health. We don’t hear too much about those nowadays. Yet, the psychological damage done by the so-called “parents” are trampling them into the ground. That is why parents should have a licence before they are allowed to have and raise children. They have to have a license for guns but not for parenting. But I do not think that will ever happen – pity!
Here are my top 5 psychological killers which should be avoided whenever and wherever possible. Notice how I have made ‘killer’ plural – there are so many!
- Your father/ mother is a bastard/bitch.
You know when parents cannot get over a divorce and start railing against their former spouse. They may not call them the above names but any negative reference to the other parent must be avoided. This is how to traumatize your child as they will feel torn, and will never have a balanced view of what their parents went through. Why should they be subjected to such bile when they are already suffering from a broken home? They have already inherited so much trauma and despair from the whole sorry episode.
2. You will never be as good as ………
The dots can be anybody from the star of the class to a sibling or some “amazing” kid down the road. This will ruin a child’s self-esteem. Not many parents realize the psychological damage these sorts of remarks can do.
3. Let me help
You know the parents who hover around and they are always going to be there to support their child. They wrap them in cotton wool. The child will never become autonomous. You can read about the full effects of controlling parents in this post I wrote here:
4. You have to get ‘A’s
This is where the parents push their kids far too much because they have unrealistic expectations of their kids. In addition some parents overschedule their kids. Encouraging them to do well is fine but when this is OTT, then their children’s achievement and succcess are at risk. They expect too much from them on the sports field and in the classroom. Instead of encouraging their strengths and talents, they push them relentlessly. They have already decided what their kids will be. It’s toxic- as this researcher from the University of Reading remarks:-
“Although parental aspiration can help improve children’s academic performance, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous.” Kou Murayama of the University of Reading.
You can read the full article here
5. You’re a born musician/basketball player/actor etc
Overpraising a child for his or her innate talents is pretty risky and may well lead the child to either not making any effort at all or fearing challenges because of the parents’ high expectations. Praise needs to be given on certain occasions and conditions. You can read the article I wrote on that here:-
6. Who’s doing all the talking?
Telling a child what you think about what they should be doing – a typical example is after school activities- is usually taken over by the parent. There is a long spiel about the whys and the wherefores and the child is never asked. Depending on age of course, they should be involved in the conversation. Their preferences and choices should be noted and, if safe, should be acted upon.
Too critical and demanding or too soft and protective? That is the fine tightrope parents have to walk.
Most parenting courses will cover these parenting tips to avoid psychological damage. The only problem is that the number of parents reached is pitifully small.
It’s NEVER easy but at least if we try to reduce the fallout from certain toxic remarks and practices, then we will be really raising our kids to be well rounded and balanced adults. The psychological damage will be minimal.