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Are You A Toxic Parent? Look For These 7 Signs Of Toxic Parenting That May Be Damaging Your Children

Are You A Toxic Parent? Look For These 7 Signs Of Toxic Parenting That May Be Damaging Your Children

sad child with teddy bear

Toxic parenting is abuse. The effects of toxic parenting are far-reaching and can last into adulthood. 

As a parent, your job is to protect your child from harm. But when you’re not able to do that, it’s devastating for both you and your child.

Effects of toxic parenting can lead to various upshots for children, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

toxic parenting is abuse.

This article aims to give an overview of what toxic parenting looks like and how it affects kids.

Hopefully, by reading this article, you will learn how to recognize when your behaviors could be too toxic so you can change them and improve the health of your relationship with your child.

What is toxic parenting?

Toxic parenting is when parents violate their children’s boundaries, whether verbally, emotionally, or physically. Toxic parenting is abuse. This can lead to various negative outcomes for the child, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

child depression

How do we define abuse?

The word “abuse” can be hard to define. There are many definitions of the term, but here is one that I think encompasses toxic parenting: “Abuse is a pattern of behaviors used by an adult to maintain power and control over another person, typically someone who depends on them for care or support.”

A child may be physically and emotionally abused in ways more subtle than being hit or verbally berated.

example of a toxic parent

In some cases, children can experience feeling like they have lost their parent’s affection entirely. Sometimes it takes the form of cruelty mixed with neglect.

In other words, what happens when a parent has an emotional reaction to their child that leaves the child feeling worthless and unloved by parents. A child’s sense of self is lost due to parents’ toxic behaviors.

Toxic parents abuse their kids

These are some ways you can recognize if your parenting style is too toxic or abusive. Keep reading! We will later talk about it in this blog.

Emotionally Healthy Parents VS Toxic Parents

Emotionally healthy parents can give their children the tools they need to become happy adults.

Emotionally healthy parents vs toxic parents

Toxic parents often struggle with receiving love in return for their inability to show it. A toxic parent usually does not want the best for you and will purposefully cause you pain to feel better about themselves.

It takes an emotionally mature person to put aside their feelings and make sure others are cared for and nurtured.

Parents should have a firm grasp on their own self-esteem so they don’t try to use their children’s shortcomings as a way of filling holes within themselves. This is known as narcissistic parenting.

Living with protective and emotionally healthy parents may help build up resilience in children. This gives them an early sense of independence which helps prepare them for later life experiences.

However, in cases where the parent’s behaviors are considered harmful, it would typically negatively impact the child or adolescent.

resilience in kids

Effects of toxic parenting on Child’s mental health

Toxic parenting can be hard on kids. It can hurt them, and it might make them feel bad.

There are many negative outcomes of toxic parenting in children. Some of the more common ones include depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

Toxic parenting effects

Knowing these effects and how to recognize if your parenting style is toxic is very important.

Toxic parenting in childhood will affect future relationships

If a toxic parent raised you, then this may cause issues with your own children. It can be hard to build lasting and healthy relationships due to the toxic relationship between you and your child(ren).

toxic parents

Toxic parenting can have a lasting effect on their life

Toxic parenting can affect your children in many ways, such as having low self-esteem or poor social skills. This may also lead to them being antisocial or anxious.

poor self estimate due to a toxic parent

They may have trouble with their own parenting skills

If a toxic parent raised you, it might affect how you raise your own children and what you will do or not do to get your point across.

Toxic parents have an adverse effect on their children.

Toxic parents have an adverse effect on their child(ren)

It can be very hard for kids to grow up with these kinds of parents. Children growing under a toxic parent may not know how to deal with their emotions correctly or get out of challenging situations.

Toxic parents effect child mental health

7 Signs of Toxic parenting behaviors 

Toxic parenting is when adults don’t respect the boundaries of their children. This could be emotionally, verbally, or physically. 

Visible signs of a toxic parent are:

Toxic parents don’t provide Security and Affirmation

Tough love isn’t a “tough love”; it’s abuse. It can work sometimes, but parents should not rely on it if they want their child to grow up as a well-rounded adult.

toxic parenting causes low self esteem

A toxic parent may not provide for the needs of children because they are either mentally unstable or emotionally unavailable. This can lead to low self-esteem, emotional instability, and susceptibility to addiction (e.g., alcoholism).

For instance, a young child getting scolded by his parent for coloring on the walls. He did so because he wanted attention from both his parents. He then becomes isolated and confused; it’s not healthy for anyone to live like this.

child getting scolded

Toxic parents yell all the time

A toxic parent is mostly verbally abusive. They might make their children feel like they are not good enough or that something is wrong with them because they treat you badly. These negative feelings and thoughts can stick with children for the rest of their lives.

toxic parents yell all the time

If you yell at your kids all the time, punish them unfairly, force things on them without asking what’s best for them, then you are a perfect example of a toxic parent.

A toxic parent punish unfairly

What’s worse is you also make other people think there is something wrong with your child when actually it’s just your own insecurities. You need to think and change your behavior before it gets too late.

spanking the child is physical abuse

Toxic parents forbid their children from asking for help from others

Toxic parents typically want to control their children from getting help from other sources. They may think that they’re doing this because they love their child too much and don’t want them to get hurt.

Toxic parents forbid their children from asking for help from others

However, there are several reasons why this is actually not true at all!

It is toxic if your parent prevents you from talking about your problems with someone else by calling them names, threatening them through texts/emails/phone calls, etc.

Toxic parents disrespect their kids’ feelings

Disregarding your children’s feelings and dismissing their desires as irrelevant or unimportant is also a sign of toxic parenting.

Toxic parents disrespect their kids' feelings

An example of this is when your child comes to you with a bruise and crying… Or you simply dismiss them with statements like, “Stop whining. You’re fine.”

This is not helpful at all; it can lead to depression and anxiety in the long run.

Toxic parents are judgmental and overly critical

Being overly critical of everything that your child does is a form of toxic parenting. Parents often use “reverse psychology” to get their children to do what they want them to. 

Toxic parents are judgmental and overly critical

This is bad for the child’s self-esteem and can lead to other problems later in life, including not making friends or dealing with stress.

Instead of using reverse psychology on your kids, be more positive about everything that they do.

Praise your child when they’re good at something rather than criticizing them when they fail. Letting a kid know that you believe in and support them will help build their confidence so that it lasts into adulthood.

praise your child

Toxic parents Use Guilt And Money To Control You

Toxic parents always try to guilt-trip their kids into doing what they want. They give gifts with strings attached or try to guilt kids by saying things like, “I’ve done so much for you, and this is how you repay me?”

Toxic parents always try to guilt-trip their kids into doing what they want.

Even if toxic parents aren’t physically abusive, their emotional abuse can take its toll on kids’ mental health over time.

Toxic parents put their feelings first

Toxic parents just care about them. The children’s feelings are not considered, so they never get the validation that they need!

Toxic parents are self absorbed

Parents should hear, understand, and validate their kids, but this does not always happen in toxic parenting. No matter what children do in life, it will never be good enough for toxic parents.

Ask yourself these questions if you think your parenting style may be toxic:

  • Do I tend to criticize a lot?
  • Am I overly controlling of my children?
  • Do I try to make them feel guilty for their actions?
  • Do I put conditions on how much love or support they are going to get from me?
  • Do I tell them how they should think, act, and behave?
Ask  yourself if you are behaving as a toxic parent

These are just a few questions that will help you get started on whether or not your parenting style is toxic and maybe adding to the problems your child is currently having.

Other toxic parenting behaviors

Other toxic parenting behaviors are being manipulative and never setting boundaries because they’re afraid they will disappoint their children or don’t know how to do so.

toxic parents are manipulative

Moreover, toxic parents cannot express their emotions in a healthy manner, such as: expressing anger, frustration, fear, sadness, and disappointment.

Tips on how to stop being a toxic parent and improve your relationship with your child

Now the big question is, what do you do if you realize that your parenting style is toxic and may negatively impact your child?

Here are some tips on how one can start changing their parenting style and become a healthy role model for their children instead of being a toxic parent:

Have a bigger heart

You find it hard to let go of arguments with your children. You don’t want to give in because you think it’s important for them to learn a lesson.

have a big heart

But at the same time, letting things escalate isn’t good for either of you. It’s hard not to let your ego take over during these situations so that you can show them respect by admitting when they were right, even though this doesn’t make sense to you.

What can you do?

Try to remind yourself that you are the parent, and letting a fight drag on simply because you want to win is not good for your child’s mental health.

Your child may not remember who won or lost the fight, but they will remember how you acted during that fight and how you made them feel about you and themselves.

Instead of letting an argument drag on until both of your end up frustrated and upset, try taking a step back from your ego and see how important it is to win an argument vs. having a healthy relationship with your child.

Thus, it is important to act like a mature person. Don’t neglect your child or make them feel foolish or idiot.

Allow your child to express themselves

Parents need to let their children express themselves. If a parent does not let the child say what they think, feel, dream, hope, or fear, there will be no effective and meaningful communication.

let children express themselves freely

Listening and expressing yourself is essential for any relationship, but it’s especially important when it comes to your children.

Meaningful and healthy communication helps children develop their self-esteem and confidence. It is even better if you have time to listen to your children and empathize with them when they are feeling down.

See Also
praise for intelligence or praise for effort

If you almost always speak to your child as if they are below you, it’s time to reconsider that this may be toxic.

What can you do?

When your children have something to say or share, let them speak and give them your full attention, give feedback when your child has finished speaking or paused to ask for your feedback.

Avoid Continuous Criticism

Some parents make it their goal to criticize their kids even though this makes them feel bad about themselves. As a result, it is important to carefully consider your words when speaking with your child, especially if you’re talking about their performance on something.

toxic parents always do Continuous Criticism

No one likes being criticized. Think about how you feel when someone criticizes you? Not good, right? Especially when criticism comes from people you love.

Constant criticism can make children question their personality and intelligence; hence cause low confidence. This is not good for children to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem or worthiness as adults.

When parents criticize continuously, children will feel inadequate and have difficulty forming an accurate picture of themselves as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.

What can you do?

Be an emotional support system for your child. Remind yourself that your kids are still learning how to do things and need encouragement from you instead of criticism.

A father emotionally supporting her daughter

No matter what form of abuse is, it is toxic.

Abuse is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a child. It manifests in many forms:

Physical abuse

One of the most obvious signs of physical abuse is when parents hit their children with an object or physically harm them in any other way.

hitting a child is toxic parenting

Spanking or hitting your child is just as damaging to your child’s emotional health as other kinds of physical abuse, such as slapping, punching, pinching, etc. 

If you have been using physical punishment as a means of disciplining your child, look for other healthy methods. For example, take away a privilege, and explain to your child why they have lost their privilege and when they can have it back.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when parents or adults touch kids inappropriately.

Verbal abuse

One easy way to spot whether parents are using verbal abuse is to call their children “stupid,” “idiot,” or make fun of them constantly.

Verbal abuse will harm children’s sense of self-worth. It may not leave physical signs, but it surely leaves emotional scars that may hurt your child for the rest of your life. Therefore, it is also called emotional abuse.

verbally abuse is emotional abuse

Change your behavior

If you realize that you are abusing your child, stop and seek professional help. It is perhaps the best approach to deal with your control and anger issues.

If you want to change your behavior, first understand what abuse is. Stop trying to rationalize your behavior.  Stop abusing your children. Parenting is tough, but it does not justify abuse.

Mostly, abusers become abusers because their parents raised them that way. The best way to stop the cycle of abuse is by getting help from a professional.

walk away when you are angry

One way to avoid abusing a child in a certain situation is by walking away when you feel frustrated or angry. Don’t shy away from asking for help when needed.

Keep Sarcasm at bay in parenting.

Let’s say you have a child who needs more time to process instructions. You become frustrated that it takes so long for him to understand that math question that is so easy for his age.

sarcasm isn't good for parenting kids

In your frustration, you dig, “Ella; a baby can solve this sooner than you. So hurry up!”

You find it fun, but it is unlikely that Ella finds your pun funny.

It may feel good to come up with a snarky comment, but sarcasm has a bite to it. Sarcasm can be funny at times and appropriate in other situations.

However, in many cases, especially involving a child’s behavior, sarcasm is not always helpful but hurtful.

Replace your toxic digs with kindness and understanding, showing concern for how these actions might affect your child.

“Ella, you seem uncertain of how to do that sum. Can I again help you understand the steps?”

Replace your toxic parenting with kindness and understanding


Toxic parenting can have long-lasting effects on children, and it’s important to recognize the signs.

If you find yourself dealing with kids acting out or misbehaving, examine how you’re interacting with them. What we’ve outlined here are some ways to tell if your parenting style might be too toxic or abusive–and what steps to take instead.

If we could all take the time each day to stop whatever we’re doing and give our children a hug and a kiss, think of how many fewer problems there would be in this world

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