33 Things It's Time to Stop Doing to Your Kids Right Now

Cropped shot of a mother comforting her little son at home

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In our quest to be a great mom or dad, we often don't see that our actions aren't always best for our children. Now's the time to take off the blinders and stop doing these 33 things to your kids right now. Here's an overview of what you need to stop doing.

Feeling Like You're Failing

Are you a perfect parent? Of course not! Some days will be better than others but you have to stop feeling like you're failing as a parent. You're not doing your children any favors by thinking you're letting them down.

Doing Everything for Them

We do a lot for our kids, to the point that we end up doing everything for our kids. The best way to raise independent children is to allow them practice time to be independent. So what if milk gets spilled onto the counter instead of into the glass because you didn't step in to help?

Kids can learn a lot by trying things on their own.

Neglecting Your Marriage

We're so focused on raising our kids, taking care of them and making sure they're happy, that we often neglect one of our most important relationships: our marriage. Nurture your marriage by planning date nights together, connecting with each other every day, and simply taking the time to talk before turning in at night.

Fighting Over the Little Things

You can't win every battle and you shouldn't try to either. Pick your parenting battles wisely. The little things really don't matter.

Neglecting to Assign Responsibilities

Ah, the life of a child, a carefree life with zero responsibilities. That's because all the responsibilities fall on you.

Assign age-appropriate chores not only for your child's sake but for yours.

Overscheduling Them

We want our kids to experience everything they want. So that typically means we overschedule them, cramming in scouts, sports, dance and other activities in a single semester. Not only do you run yourself ragged, overscheduling your kids doesn't give them any free time to just ... be.

Putting Your Needs on Hold

You do everything for everyone else. When was the last time you took care of yourself? Take a time out to be a healthier, happy parent and avoid burnout.

Using Technology Too Much

Have you unplugged your gadgets to spend one-on-one time with your kids today? Create gadget-free times and zones in your house.

Rushing Everywhere

Hurry up! Let's go! Come on! Get your kids to hurry up the easy way so you can take some of the taxi-in-rush-hour feelings off of you.

Trying to Spend 24/7 With Them

We guilt ourselves when we don't spend every waking moment with our kids. Enjoy quality time with your family, of course, but also recognize the importance of letting your kids play alone and with their siblings too.

Spoiling Them

We love our kids so much and we want them to be happy 100% of the time. And since that's not possible, we sometimes discover we are accidentally spoiling them rotten. There are ways to keep your kids happy without spoiling them, though.


Getting the most out of your family's budget is a challenge on its own, especially if one of you stays home with the kids. Start overspending on your children and your piggy bank is doomed.

Keep your budget in check but know when to say, "no," so you can stop overspending on your kids.

Forgetting to Teach Gratitude

We teach our children to say, "please" and to write thank you notes, but do they truly know what it means to be thankful? Make sure the words they are speaking aren't empty. Raise thankful kids who appreciate everything and everyone around them.

Trying to Be Like Other Parents

Facebook, the bragging mother next door and the pressure we put on ourselves have all turned parenthood into a blood sport. We try too much to be like other parents. We fuel the Mommy Wars debate. We pit older moms vs. younger moms. We judge other parents. And all the while, we try to compete with other moms and dads instead of just being the best parent we can be.

Ignoring Bad Behavior

We let that sassy mouth go because we tell ourselves it's a phase or we tell our kids to work out those sibling spats on their own. Some behaviors can be curbed before they get out of hand. Then there are bad behaviors we simply must tackle before they get out of hand. Ignoring them won't make them magically go away.

Glossing Over Important Chats

As our kids grow, the topics of our talks may change but their importance doesn't. With our hectic schedule, though, we often don't take enough time to address those important subjects that are affecting them at the moment.

Glossing over the important chats is a lost moment we have to make a difference and positively impact our kids.

Being Inconsistent in Your Discipline

One week we take away a privilege, the next we see the same offense committed and do nothing. Inconsistent discipline is confusing to kids and doesn't help them learn the valuable lessons you're trying to teach. Come up with your own plan to discipline your children and stick to it every time.

Raising a Brat

Nobody wants to admit they're raising a brat. But are you seeing the signs of a brat-in-training? If so, it's time to get in some one-on-one time to boot the brat and get that sweet child of yours back.

Failing to Teach Street Smarts

Being street smart goes beyond looking both ways before you cross the street. We wish we lived in Mayberry but these days every child needs to learn street smarts to stay safe.

Allowing the Wrong Friends

We want our kids to socialize with their peers and we're so excited when they make new friends. But then you start to notice that other kid isn't exactly the influence you want hanging around your children. Depending on the severity of the situation, there are plenty of ways to handle things when you're concerned about your kids' friends.

Forcing Friendships on Them

Then there's the flip side of not liking your children's friends—when you like them so much, you end up forcing that other kid on your own. You schedule play dates, enroll them in the same activities, and you're just so giddy about this friendship. However, your kids aren't.

We can help them establish those best friends forever relationships but forcing our kids into friendships they're not as equally enthused about will ultimately lead to the friendship's failure.

Blowing Up at Them

One of your children shoved a paper clip into the light switch. Another climbed the pantry and helped herself to a bag of marshmallows. Your last straw was when your toddler managed to give the dog a new hairdo with play dough, which is now dry.

Parenting can be frustrating, no doubt, but blowing up at your kids isn't the answer. Stop yelling and find a better way to communicate with so they'll actually listen to what you have to say.

Getting Distracted

With tablets, smartphones, social media status updates and friends' timelines to read, parents are more distracted than ever before. In fact, a 2014 Highlights study found 62% of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 think their parents are distracted.

Don't get distracted while parenting. You'll blink one day and find your kids are grown-ups.

Trying to Raise Perfect Kids

Here's a secret. Your kids aren't perfect. No child is and that's perfectly okay. Don't get hung up on trying to raise perfect kids.

Neglecting the Little Moments

A parent's life is hectic. Some days you don't know which way is up. That can easily keep you in a fog to the point that you forget to recognize the little things. Consciously take a breath and enjoy the moment when your toddler draws the perfect circle or all of your children are working together to build the biggest fort.

Forcing Them to Eat

We can become nasty lunch ladies when it comes to getting our kids to eat. Yes, we want them to eat healthy but if your children gag every time they bite into green beans, they may not actually like green beans no matter how hard you try to convince them otherwise.

Tame the picky eater with various strategies, including the one-bite rule, but if they insist they don't like a certain food, forcing it on your kids every day is setting you up for a war none of you is going to win.

Saying Yes to Everyone Else

You are one person. As much as you want your own cape, you're not a superhero. You can't sew the costumes for the class play, coach three days a week for each one of your children's sports teams, and bake 300 cupcakes for the school bake sale in two days.

Help your children's school on your terms and don't succumb to guilt. Volunteer as a team parent once a year instead of every season for all of your kids. You simply can't say yes to everything.

Overindulging in Praise

Our children are awesome and we want them to know it. But are we going overboard? Overindulging our kids with praise can actually turn them into a narcissist, according to a study from Ohio State University. Or, as Stanford University's research found in 2013, praising your children's efforts are more effective than praising their talents.

Depending on Electronics

Tablets and video games are great babysitters. In fact, they're too good at babysitting our kids. We start relying on that tablet time just to sneak in our own kid-free moments. As tempting as it is, don't depend on electronics to entertain your kids.

Set time limits, stick to them and plan other activities, like board games and crafts, that still give you a break without leaning on an electronics crutch.

Acting as Though Failure Is Bad

Have you been successful at every single thing you've tried in your life? No? Welcome to the club! Yet, we go out of our way to make sure our kids don't ever fail. We practically write that book report our son forgot to tell us about until the day before it was due. Or we stay up until the wee hours of the morning working on that science project because our daughter never did.

Let your kids feel the natural consequences of their actions or inactions. What will they do when they fail? They'll feel disappointment and they'll probably come up with their own plan to rectify the problem, such as talking to the teacher and scheduling a new due date. Most importantly, your kids will not likely want to feel that disappointment again so they'll make sure they take one more step closer to becoming responsible children.

Living Your Life Through Theirs

Remember when you wanted to be a ballerina, tennis star and actress? Now you have kids and you can get them involved in all of those things you wanted to do. Sometimes we can't even fathom that our children's interests are not their own. They're ours from our own childhood dreams.

If your kids really do love all of the activities you did when you were little, great! If they don't, be ready to back off so they can find and pursue their own passions.

Treating Them Like Adults

Children aren't adults trapped in tiny bodies. They're just kids, learning, growing and trying to understand their own feelings more and more every day. They think like kids. They act like kids. Treat your children like the kids they are, not the adults we sometimes mistake them to be.

Comparing Your Children to Others

Why can't you keep your room clean like your brother does? Your friend Johnny makes good grades on his tests. Parents naturally tend to compare their children to others. It's not fair to compare our kids to anyone else, though.

We not only make them feel guilty, we can actually harm their friendships with constant comparisons and fuel sibling rivalry. No one wants to be compared to anyone else, especially kids who are still trying to figure out who they are.

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  1. Highlights. National Survey Reveals 62% of Kids Think Parents Are Too Distracted to Listen. Published October 8, 2014.

  2. Gunderson EA, Gripshover SJ, Romero C, Dweck CS, Goldin-Meadow S, Levine SC. Parent praise to 1- to 3-year-olds predicts children's motivational frameworks 5 years laterChild Dev. 2013;84(5):1526‐1541. doi:10.1111/cdev.12064