Do you want to know how to stop being a toxic parent? In my eyes, it’s pretty simple. Stop doing toxic things. But I know that for someone stuck in those patterns, change may not come easily.
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I’ve had the unfortunate ability to witness someone else’s parenting that I think is very toxic. Toxic parenting doesn’t just affect children, it also affects anyone who witnesses it. It can be emotionally triggering and leave those on the sidelines in shock.
If it can affect an adult in a hugely negative way, just imagine what kind of impact that might have on a child!
It can’t be good, at all.
If you believe YOU are the toxic parent, then you probably are. I know you are probably doing better than your own parent(s) did. I know you probably feel you are doing your best. But you need to recognize that you need help. You need to get help. Hopefully you are in therapy for yourself, and hopefully you will consider parenting classes.
Your babies deserve it! And I’m glad you actually WANT to do better by them!
Here’s how to stop being a toxic parent:
1. Stop telling your child your business
Your child does not need to know the details of your relationship(s). They don’t need to know how you’re feeling outside of “mommy/daddy is sad.” They don’t need to be blamed, guilt-tripped, or forced to shoulder the burden of your pain and agony.
They do need you to be a parent. Regardless of how you’re feeling. That means you still have to take care of their basic needs, even if you don’t feel like it. If you know that you cannot, find a friend or family member who can give you some time off, or seek respite with your county/state.
2. Stop telling your child you wish he or she was never born
DO NOT BLAME YOUR CHILD FOR YOUR SITUATION.
Yes, it’s probably true that life would be “easier” without having children. Children do present challenges for parents that childless persons tend not to have.
That doesn’t mean you get to blame the child. They didn’t miraculously appear. You CHOSE to have your child. CHOOSE to be a good parent, too.
Choose not to tell your children things like how you wish they were dead, you wish you could kill them, you wish you never had them, you wish you could return them, etc.
That is toxic x 10, and very damaging to a child. Heck, that would even be damaging to an adult!
Related Post: How To Be A Good Parent
3. Plan ahead to avoid drama
You can save your own sanity by planning ahead.
If you know you have a million and one things to do, wake up early to get some of it done. Find tasks that will occupy your children for a few minutes here or there.
DO NOT SKIP NAPTIME. In face, MAKE SURE NAP TIME HAPPENS.
Naptime is good for your kids, and it’s good for you. And put them to bed early, too.
When my son was younger, I did most of what I needed to do while he was sleeping.
If I knew I’d need more time than that, I’d ask a relative or friend to watch him for a few hours.
AND DO NOT DELAY MEALS.
Feed your children, and feed them well. Feed them as soon as they wake up. Feed them at least every 4 hours. But snacks in between are fine, too. Plan mealtimes and make sure they happen.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And your toxicity will shine.
4. Get up and do something
Stop being a couch potato. Don’t scream at your child from several feet away to do this or that or to stop doing this or that.
GET YOUR A$$ UP!
Go over to your child and speak to him or her face to face. Get on their level. Speak with respect and kindness. Pick him or her up and redirect to a more appropriate activity.
In general, our children want to make us happy. They want to be pleasing and to do things that make them feel smart and capable of accomplishing things.
Young children generally like to help, and they like getting praise. So redirect them in a positive way that can empower them.
5. Stop yelling at your child so much
It’s not easy for me to avoid yelling, so I imagine it’s not the easiest for a toxic parent to stop yelling insults. It’s probably what you’re used to from your own childhood.
But it’s got to stop.
Consider taking a parenting course that can help you figure out tools and tactics to deal with stressful situations with your children and allow both of you to come out of the situation with your emotions intact.
Your child shouldn’t feel like poop. You shouldn’t either, but it’s a two-way street.
And for the most part, children model what you do, so if the toxic yelling continues, your child may grow more and more difficult to deal with as he or she gets older. And they’ll struggle with the same behaviors with their own children when you could just decide that the cycle ENDS WITH YOU.
6. Stop setting an expiration date for your child
Your child is not only yours until the age of 18. He or she is your child forever. There’s no rule that says you need to kick your child out of the house at 18. There’s no rule that states he or she needs to be on their own.
Your job is to help raise your child to adulthood at first. After that it is to continue the relationship and be a guide and offer your support.
I still needed my mom’s guidance and yes, sometimes even HELP. Because an 18 year old doesn’t always make the best decisions.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage your child to spread their wings, take internship opportunities, look into home ownership and other awesome endeavors early on in adulthood.
But the goal should be to do so with love and assurance that you are there every step of the way. You care and some number doesn’t change that and suddenly make you cold to their needs.
7. Stop getting frustrated when your child is trying to do their homework
I commend you for helping your child do your homework.
I personally don’t like homework, even if it’s not my own!
But yelling at your child and treating him or her like they’re dumb is NOT going to help them learn anything.
It’s very difficult for people to learn and retain information when they are under stress. And the stress of having a toxic parent combined with the stress of yelling and name-calling and hitting while trying to do homework means not much learning gets accomplished.
Try to remain calm during homework time. Pre-planning and getting the other kids to take a nap or immerse themselves in some other activity first can help you have less stress while helping one child with homework. Also make sure babies are fed so that a screaming baby doesn’t rattle you.
If that can’t happen, then look into getting a tutor. Some schools and programs offer free tutoring, and there are often scholarships that will pay for tutoring in its entirety.
I know it can’t be easy dealing with the wide range of emotions that a toxic parent must feel.
But just imagine how much more difficult it is for a child to deal with such a wide range of big emotions!
If a parent can’t learn to regulate their emotions and stop taking things out on their child, how can they expect much better from an actual child?
I do believe people can change, if they want to. And if you are doing the things on this list, I hope that you will change. Because it needs to be done!
For you. For your child. For the world!