Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
There are so many things that can affect a child’s success, including socioeconomic status, the environment they live in, and their parents’ education level.
Though it can be difficult for studies to determine what parenting techniques are ideal since researchers usually don’t follow families long-term, there are certain parental behaviors that scientists have found could be linked to problems in children, like depression and anxiety, later in life.
Here are nine things parents do that might be making kids unsuccessful, according to psychology research:
1. They don’t encourage their kids to be independent.
Being independent could help adolescents resist peer pressure.
In 1997, a study at Vanderbilt University found that parents who psychologically controlled their children created to a host of negative outcomes for kids, including low self-confidence and self-reliance.
Encouraging children — especially teens — to be independent can be a good thing, especially in enhancing their ability to resolve conflict and have interpersonal relationships, according to this study in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Additionally, this study found evidence that more independence could lead to an increase in teens’ ability to resist peer pressure.
2. They yell at their kids — a lot.
Harsh verbal discipline may be detrimental long-term.
A 2013 study out of the University of Pittsburgh found evidence that harsh verbal discipline like shouting, cursing, or using insults may be detrimental to kids’ well-being in the long-term.
The two-year study also found that harsh verbal discipline had comparable negative effects — such as behavioral problems and depressive symptoms — to studies that focused on physical discipline.
“It’s a tough call for parents because it goes both ways: problem behaviors from children create the desire to give harsh verbal discipline, but that discipline may push adolescents toward those same problem behaviors,” the study’s author said in a press release.
3. They’re ‘helicopter parents.’
There’s such a thing as being “too” involved.
While being an involved parent is a good thing, being a “helicopter parent,” or a parent who is over-controlling, could result in higher levels of anxiety and depression in children.
“Students who reported having over-controlling parents reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction with life,” researchers wrote in a 2013 study of nearly 300 college students in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
It’s one in a number of other studies that point to a possible connection between over-controlling parents and depression in college-aged young adults, including a 2011 study from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The researchers found that children with so-called “helicopter parents” were less open to new ideas, more self-conscious, and happened to use more pain pills recreationally.
4. They let their children decide their bed times.
Irregular bedtimes could affect the developing brain.
Researchers from the UK found a link between irregular bedtimes and worsening behavior scores, which included hyperactivity, conduct problems, peer issues, and emotional difficulties.
Plus, irregular bedtimes could affect the developing brain.
“We know that early child development has profound influences on health and wellbeing across the life course. It follows that disruptions to sleep, especially if they occur at key times in development, could have important lifelong impacts on health,” one of the study’s authors, Yvonne Kelly, told Medical News Daily.
5. They let them watch TV when they’re really young.
Copious amounts of TV could be a bad idea for kids.
Though screen time has been a parental boogieman for decades, it seems there may be cause for concern.
A 2007 study published in The Journal of Pediatrics indicates that heavy television viewing for kids before three years of age affects vocabulary, participation, and made them more likely to bully other classmates when they enter kindergarten.
Heavy television usage has also been associated with attention problems as well as impaired reading and math proficiency.
Some studies have indicated that educational programs like “Sesame Street” or “Barney” are beneficial, but only for kids between two-and-a-half and five years old.
6. They’re authoritarian.
“You need to get straight A’s because I said so.”
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumride found in the 1960s that there are basically three kinds of parenting styles: permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative.
The ideal is authoritative — a parent who tries to direct the child rationally. The worst? Authoritarian parents who are demanding and discourage open communication.
To put that in a real world context, authoritarian parents might say, “You need to get straight A’s because I said so.”It’s a strict guideline without any rationale the child can understand.
On the other hand, authoritative parents would explain that good grades help kids learn and advance in life.
Authoritarian parenting could lead to inhibited performance in school, according to a 2005 study in Educational Psychology Review, though the author notes that “these findings are not consistent across culture, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.”
7. They use their cellphones frequently around their kids.
Cellphones can distract parents.
A study published this year in the journal of Translational Psychiatry showed that distracted parents could negatively affect their children’s development.
The study was in rats, so we don’t know yet if it could apply to humans.
At the very least, our technology-induced distractions can’t be a great thing. Some emergency room doctors who have seen a rise in child injuries believe our smart phones could be a plausible explanation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
And a 2015 Pennsylvania State University study posited that smartphone usage “poses a real danger to the welfare and development of children.”
8. They’re cold or distant towards their children.
It doesn’t hurt to show your kids you love them.
Though it may seem obvious, there’s no replacement for developing a healthy, positive bond with your child.
Multiple studies have found low levels of parental warmth can contribute to behavioral problems as well as insecurity and emotional difficulties in children and adolescents.
Kids who don’t get parental praise may also experience social withdrawal and anxiety, according to one 1986 study.
9. They use spanking as a punishment.
Spanking may not be the best way to punish your child.
Spanking’s effect on children has been studied since the ’80s and the punishment has consistently been tied to hyperactivity, aggression, and oppositional behavior in children.
In a 2000 study, researchers found that first graders with behavioral problems whose parents spanked them were more likely to be disruptive.
And in 2016, a University of Texas at Austin analysis confirmed that based on 50 years of research on 160,000 children, spanking was associated with mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.