17 Mistakes Parents Make when they Interact with their Children

What's Covered

Raising kids is never easy. Most probably, you cannot say, “Experience is the best teacher” because you have never been there. Just in case, how do you repair a broken person? Yes, parenting is actually one of the most challenging tasks you were ever entrusted. Along the way, there must be frustrations and overwhelming situations. But bear in mind, it is a continuous learning and growing. If you learn to overcome these 17 common parenting mistakes, you will turn out to be more effective parent, raising YOUR children as responsible contributors to the society someday.

1. Inadequate quality time with your children

Life is so eventful. We go to work, attend dinner meetings, come home late and still do the house chores, you name it! Then at the end of the day, we feel too exhausted or stressed and there is no more time to play and have fun with our kids. A research study recommended that we schedule a habitual family time with children.[1] At times we think we are already spending with them plenty of our time but what is important is the quality time – quality over quantity of time. Quality time is the undivided attention we spend with them doing tasks they like. You don’t need a hundred bucks to do this. You may cook and eat a meal together, read Bible stories before bedtimes or simply frolic in the backyard garden or in a nearby sandy beach during weekend evenings.

Spending regular quality time with your children strengthens family bond, keeps children mentally and emotionally strong, develops positive behaviors, open communication, and yes, it can also upgrade academic performance. Just let your kids know and feel they are important. This is evident when you don’t hesitate to spare them your most precious time. 

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2. Absence of training for children to help at home

Every parent wants their child to become a responsible adult. This cannot be done overnight. We have to start them young. I feel so happy and proud looking at my daughter when she was two years old putting a fork and spoon in our respective plates at meal time. She was already assuming a sense of responsibility. As young as they are, they should be given tasks around the house like cleaning their mess, putting their toys in their proper places or putting their trash in the garbage bin. 

“In the eyes of a curious child, work should be pleasurable. As much as possible, work with a smile even with singing. In this way, our little ones would even envy us doing some tasks and voluntarily participate. On the other hand, if they see us burdened doing work at home, then our little ones will absolutely resolve to avoid such drudgery. Asking them to do anything around the house would be likened to torture. Thus, from the toddler years, we should instill them the idea that work is amusing.” [2]

3. Sparing the rod of discipline

We have different convictions in disciplining our children but remember that discipline is essential for good upbringing. The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” is a modern-day saying from Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” This means that if parents don’t want to discipline a wayward child, the child will grow with excessive selfishness and immature behavior. He will become a spoiled brat. Of course, where else can we learn the best parenting advice if not from the Bible?  “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” (Proverbs 29:17) But always remember to always do physical discipline in love. 


4. Being inconsistent

Consistency is what makes parenting go right. The rules you set up and the reward or penalty that ensue, you need to be consistent that they become as common as a routine in daily life. It is best that you establish certain guidelines to follow and discuss it with your kids. Such that your kids do know whether they will be rewarded or penalized for a certain action. For example, if they get excellent marks in school, they are given extra allowance. On the other hand, if they neglect their assigned chores at home, they will lose an enjoyable family night out. In this way, before they do anything, they already have in mind a predictable consequence of their action. This world we live in is so chaotic and causes us much anxiety, that’s why do not add to the trouble by inconsistency. Consistency keeps anxiety away from you and your kids, at least within the family.


 5. Forgetting to praise right behavior

There is nothing that makes a child happier than the pride they feel when they receive praises from their parents. I remember how much I was elated when I got an academic excellence medal and my father says to my younger sister, “Study well and you will also receive a medal like your sister.” A simple gesture of appreciation boosts confidence and positive outlook about one’s self.

Whatever is praiseworthy you see your children display, whether great or small, you praise, you give credit! Don’t ever discount what praise can do. It can be likened to the word of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s when he landed on the moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

6. Buying them anything they want

I was raised in a poor family and I am only provided by my parents with what I need but most of the time it’s inadequate while my friends are being bought with anything they want. I was not directly taught about money and wise spending but I learned it on the process. Now we see many young people with poor spending, giving headaches to their parents. 

Start early in teaching them financial education. This includes discussing wants vs. needs. Explain that needs include the basics, such as healthy food, proper shelter, and clothing, and are essential to survival and well-being. Wants on the other hand are all the extras and stem from our emotional desires and are not actually essential for survival. We can buy our wants as long as our needs are met first while also teaching them the value of money and hard work to earn that money. This is financial education which is very necessary for our kids to have healthy financial management behaviors as they grow. 

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7. Inability to look ahead

Shortsighted parenting is as dangerous as driving on a busy night street with your headlights off. Yes, you need to see beyond the obvious. And so, you need to set your ultimate goal to be able to craft an effective strategy to get there. You may begin with this reflection: “What kind of adult person do I envision my children to become?” And you need to know that to reach your goal, you have to foresee and prepare to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead your children’s way.

As a guide to your children, you need to ensure not only their excellent physical development, but more importantly their social, emotional and spiritual development. You need to set guiding principles and most oftentimes, the limits or lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Again, parenting is not a walk in the park but driving on a busy night street. So, turn your headlamps to see clearly where you’re heading so that you can reach your destination victoriously. Best-selling inspirational author Mitch Albom on one occasion said, “We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become.”

8. Yelling at them

When was the last time you yelled at your kid? As you made your request for the nth time, “Please clean your mess”, it’s very easy to lose your temper resulting in yelling. Some parents I know believe that they have to yell to get their children to listen. I am also guilty of this. Yelling to kids is as harmful as harshly hitting them without any explanation. You observe your children if you yell at them. Is their response positive or more on the darker side of problem behavior? This will just provoke more and more yelling. A tragic cycle, isn’t it?

You don’t have to yell. Yelling is about your behavior and not theirs. We have to understand our children. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and think of the best way to handle the problem. Then let’s come back and start a calm and cooperative atmosphere with them. Let us start to think before we react and definitely, we will create a home full of respect and understanding. 

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This book will help you to stop yelling and start connecting with your children.

9. Keeping them from joining sports or activities

Physical activity is a vital part for a child’s holistic growth. Regardless of age, one should devote at least an hour per day to exercise. Allowing your child to do sports or other activities will build their self-confidence. They will develop collaboration and interaction skills while keeping your child’s body and mind healthy. How can you make sure your child naturally incorporates exercise into their life? Parents need to lead by example. You do sports together while keeping it fun not forcing them. Very fittingly, Asics, a sports paraphernalia business takes its name from the acronym, “anima sana in corpore sano” (a healthy soul in a healthy body)


10. Not being good role models

You may not like it (you may even strongly disagree) but humans, especially innocent children, simply imitate anything they see. And they do not have the wit to do away from the offensive. Needless to say, they are automated and living duplicating machines. That’s why don’t do anything in front of them that you would not want them to do. Of course, you do not need to be a perfect parent but a good parent will do. We want our child not to be choosy with food. We want them to be patient, respectful and have discipline in using gadgets. We want them to be responsible and honest. But how about us? Everything we want them to do, let’s do it first. Everything we want them to be, let’s become first. Let them see it first in us. Let them learn from us and on what we do. They are watching our every move so let’s give them good things to watch and reproduce.

11. Doing everything for them

We all want our child to be happy, contented and comfortable. We not do want to see them hurt. So, we do all the house chores because we want everything to be done well. We complete their school assignments and finish a task they can’t so that they will not be burdened anymore. We have to reconsider and start weighing things. Are we not over-parenting? At first, everything may seem perfect but eventually we will taste a backfire at the end. 

What are the problems when we do everything for our children? “All toddlers need to explore and along the way commit mistakes and painful disappointments, unravel solution to difficulties, and grow from this process. If you do everything for them, they will lose significant learning periods.”[3] Your child will always depend on you and not be able to develop self-reliance. Stop the epidemic of over-parenting now and see how your children grow into a well-rounded and independent adult.

12. Not teaching them the 2 magic words- Thank you and Sorry

Why do “thank you” and “sorry” are called magic words? Imagine this: you give food to your little boy and he says, “Thank you mommy!” or if your cute daughter splashes her cup of milk and says she’s sorry, do you feel the magic?

We do not want to raise an ungrateful child. A good lesson we can teach our children is to say “thank you”. If they received toys from grandpa, they should be grateful and it has nothing to do if they like the toy or not. Every time we say “thank you”, we are cultivating the feeling of joy and well regarded. If your child helps you on a certain task, you also need to thank her. This way, she will feel that you appreciate what she did. 

John and Grace love to do things together. One time while they were playing, one-year old John wanted her sister’s toy and forcedly got it from her. So, Grace freaked out and cried. Perhaps, John realized what he did so he returned the toy and said “sorry.” The moment she heard the word sorry from her brother, magically, she stopped her loud cry. Of course, we need to teach our kids to apologize not just with words but with action so that it will be more meaningful. 

Start with Sorry
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13. Not teaching them a good reading habit

Reading is a huge part of learning especially in our academic lives. A good book can inform you, enrich you, and relax you. Books can also bring you into different parts of the world while just sitting at the corner. Celebrated former US president Thomas Jefferson once wrote to friend, “I cannot live without books.” Thus, the habit of reading is one of the best qualities that you can teach your child. 

I’ve observed that the common thing about successful people is they always make time to read, study and learn every day. So, it is no surprise that they become innovators, great thinkers and leaders. Thus, if you want your child to be successful, teach them to make reading a habit and a fun bonding experience for the family. 

14. Allowing poor habits to develop

Imagine your child throwing her food every mealtime or pushing other kids. Then you discovered he’s lying to you. Some parents might just ignore such habits. Anyway, they are still young and they will change their behavior at some time. Don’t be surprised when he grows wasting food, bullying other kids and a liar. You don’t have anyone to blame but yourself because you allowed poor habits to develop in your child. A habit is a pattern of behavior that is repeated, and the child doing it usually isn’t even aware of it but I’m sure parents are aware of it.

Help your child break his bad habits. Do it NOW, not LATER. Calmly point out what’s wrong in his behavior and explain why. You or he can not break the habit alone. You do it together. It may take some time to stop it but continue on reminding him and motivating him. Reinforce positive habits by praising him and you may give rewards. For example, he shared his toy with his playmates, you may give him stickers or other prizes. Habits take time to develop so it may take time to change it or stop it so parents, be patient.


15. Not helping your children handle their emotions appropriately

When I asked my daughter if how did she get the very small wound on her finger, she started crying every time she glances on it.  I am sure it’s not painful anymore because it is almost healed but she says it is. Funny it may seem but it is not shocking since she is still three years old. 

Children will experience all sorts of emotions and everyday they face situations that they don’t like. They will experience happiness, sadness, frustrations and disappointments. One important part of education is teaching children how to manage their emotions and respond appropriately to the emotions of other people. This is emotional intelligence. Let your child know that everyone feels these emotions and that there is a right and a wrong way to express them. Your child must learn to be responsible for his words and reactions, regardless of the circumstances.

16. Having unrealistic expectations

My friend always compares his son to my son who is five months older. When my son started to walk, she expects her child to be walking already too. When my son started to clearly talk, she also wants her child to be speaking clearly too. Aside from their age difference, she didn’t realize that children are different from each other and that their development stages are different. Children have different learning styles, personalities and coping mechanisms. If your child is two years old, don’t expect that he will behave like ten years old does or like other children of his age. 

It is detrimental to have unrealistic expectations of your children because it sets a pattern where your child is trying to reach a goal they are probably not going to get to. When they cannot reach the goal, they will start to feel bad about themselves. Most of the times, unrealistic expectation sets you both to failure. Your child will always try to meet your expectation with pressure which can lead to a grave mental health issue.

17. Not Showing Love

Dr. Gary Chapman explained that relationships grow better when we comprehend each other. This is also true for our children. Our children must always be assured that we love them. But we need to remember that everyone gives and receives love differently.[4] What is the love language of your child? Is it reassuring words of affirmation, pat in the back, pink colored niceties, cookies and a hot chocolate drink? Everybody has at least one distinct preference. It’s best to discover the love language of your child in order to let them feel your love for them.

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Show your love to your child because it gives him security regardless of accomplishments. And it further builds their confidence and self-esteem. Let your child feel loved so that he will not seek for love from other people.

Final Thoughts

Our children will someday become parents like us. What kind of wife or husband or parent are you raising today? Are you raising a wife who is patient, caring and generous? Are you raising a husband who is gentle, loving and responsible? Are you raising a man or woman with strong conviction and who is not easily compromised by the system of the world? Yes, your role is very vital in the life of your children. Advance them just how God wants them to be raised, not as critical and difficult, but healthy and industrious citizens.


[1] Jones, Catherine. “What are the Benefits of Spending Quality Time with your Kids.” 10 Minutes of Quality Time, 2017, https://10minutesofqualitytime.com/what-are-the-benefits-spending-quality-time-kid.

[2] Cline, Foster, and Jim Fay. Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility. NavPress, 2020.

[3] Barth, Lauren “Parents Who Do Everything for Their Child: Why It’s Time to Reconsider.” Healthline, 2020

[4] Chapman, Gary. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Northfield Publishing, 2015

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas
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