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18 Things Parents Would Have Done Differently to Try and Raise Nicer Humans

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Imagine if life provided only a single reset button—a powerful opportunity for parents to reassess and elevate their parenting approaches. For those whose children have encountered challenges or adversities, the weight of guilt and regret can be substantial, whether rightfully felt or not.

In an online forum, someone asked, “Parents who tried their best to raise their kids to be good humans, but they turned out to be jerks, what do you wish you did differently?”

1. Early Intervention

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Most parents recall seeing little snippets of behavioral and psychological issues with their kids but choose to wait.

When his brother became a homeless and abusive addict, he says his parents “wished they had reacted quicker and sent him sooner when they did.”

2. Get Therapy in Good Time

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There’s no stigma in getting your child help from a professional; their future will be grateful to you.

One user says his parents wished they had “sent him to therapy before problems ever started.”

How do you know? Users report there will be signs.

3. Trust Your Gut

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Your intuition is rarely wrong; if you feel something is wrong with your child, there probably is. Get them assessed.

One mother felt her little three-year-old boy wasn’t “normal.” Despite everyone around her saying she was overreacting, she had him checked and diagnosed when he was older.

She says, “Turns out he’s a sociopath, luckily it was caught early enough, and they could afford all of the psychiatrist, psychologist, group therapy, etc. that he’s learned how he’s supposed to act in the world.”

4. Follow Through with the Rules You Lay Down

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Children need consistency, even with the rules.

“Parents who don’t deliver on both threats and promises lose their kids’ respect and trust.” One parent on an online forum says.

“Consequences don’t need to be angry; they only need to be swift and certain, and so do the rewards.” He adds.

Another parent says, “The best thing I did with my kids is follow through.”

5. Don’t Yell Too Much

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One online user gives his experience with his parents and says, “They wish they hadn’t yelled so much at all of us.”

Another user adds, “This is a huge deal. Being screamed at all the time just for acting like kids is traumatizing.”

Gentle parenting is hard but possible.

6. Let the Kids Suffer the Consequences of Their Actions

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Kids need to know that bad behavior comes with consequences.

One online contributor shares, “Kids can easily become jerks when they have no consequences for their actions, not just as a toddler but throughout childhood.”

The world will be diligent in effecting consequences on kids when they become adults; they should know this from childhood.

7. Be Wary of Coddling Kids

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Overprotectiveness rears kids unprepared to face the real [and harsh] world.

One parent shares, “We wanted our kids to be happy, so I think we coddled and spoiled them. They aren’t ready to function independently in the adult world.”

8. Let them Learn the Hard Lessons

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Adulthood is not all peaches and cream, and it behoves parents to let their children prepare for life, unpleasant eventualities.

One parent says, “In retrospect, I think learning some hard lessons growing up helps prepare them [kids] and is less damaging than learning those lessons as adults.”

9. Don’t Be a Resentful Parent

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You may think a child derailed your life and plans in one way or the other, but it wasn’t the kid’s choice. It was entirely yours. An online forum commenter says parents’ resentment of their kids is more common than people imagine and damaging.

“In my opinion, the defining characteristic of bad parents is being resentful of their children. Resentful that they took some of their freedom, resentful of their youth, resentful of their opportunities, resentful of their intelligence, their beauty, their possessions, their education, their accomplishments, and their happiness.”

They conclude, “The kids pick up on this and end up aspiring to their parents’ unspoken expectations.”

10. Have a Do as I Do, Not as I Say Attitude

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A user shares, “Generally speaking, If you try to teach your kid something and NOT BE THE example, you might as well not have wasted your time.”

Most kids will copy a parent’s behavior, even the bad ones.

11. Love Them But Not Without Reason

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It’s actually possible to smother a child with love.

One parent advises, “It’s ironic that love gets in the way. They love their kids so much they can’t do what’s best for them because it will be uncomfortable for a brief time.”

This happened with his brother, and the outcome was not pleasant.

12. Encourage Openness

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Children need to feel they can come to their parents with any problem or issue and will be listened to.

One user says, “Overall though, most importantly, nurture a relationship that encourages openness and trust between parent and child.”

Punishment (consequences) is necessary but should not be the parent’s first reaction. When a child is in trouble, their first thought should be, “I need my Dad, ” not, “My Dad will kill me.”

13. Do Not Vilify All Bad Behavior

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Kids will behave badly, sometimes, not because they’re sociopaths but because they’re kids. A brother who saw his sibling retrogress to a drug addict and general jerk regrets a lot that happened with their parent’s way of doing things.

He says, “I wish they hadn’t villainized him the moment he started acting out and treating him like a “bad kid.” I wish they had asked him what was wrong because 10 years olds don’t randomly start doing the things he was doing without a trigger.”

14. Do Not Ignore The Signs

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Sometimes, parents cannot reconcile how the admirable ‘little bundle of joy’ turned into a nightmare. See the child for what they are becoming, not what you wish they were.

One user adds, “I think parents have such a blind spot for their kids; they see them as who they want them to be, not as they are. That’s why they’re often slow to react to real negative personality traits.”

15. Forgive Yourself, Sometimes You Can’t Save Them All

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It’s possible to do everything right with a child and still turn out to be little imps.

One User says, “The reality is that sometimes no matter how you try to mould something; circumstances can be constantly out of your control.”

To err is human, but may we not err deliberately when it comes to children.

16. Give Them More Control

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One dad admits that he often found himself ordering his son do something out of frustration or nagging. He realized later, that his son was acting out to get more independence. He now admits he would’ve found more ways for him to feel included and make his own choices with his hobbies, family time, etc.

17. Break the Cycle of Anger

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Parents and kids are good at getting each other in a bad mood. The child acts out, a parents yells or punishes, the child pushes back, resulting in more yelling…. and on. As the parent, it’s up to them to break the cycle! Definitely easier said the done.

18. Protect Them

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Some families have bad apples (cousins, grandpas, uncles, etc.) that should be cut out and kept away from young vulnerable children. But some family members aren’t willing to cause the drama and instead expose their child to bad things. Having the courage to stand up to this can be a life changer.


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