If you want to raise confident and resilient children, avoid making these 10 common parenting mistakes

When I first became a mom, I knew going in that it was going to be tough. Even so, I quickly found that it was way harder than I expected. 

I learned that even with the best of intentions, we can do or say something that can make our kids less confident. 

So, how do you make sure you aren’t doing that? 

Here are 10 common parenting mistakes you should avoid if you want to raise confident and resilient children: 

1) Overprotecting them

As parents, it’s natural for us to want to shield our kids from anything that might hurt them. Just make sure you aren’t going overboard though. 

Because in the long run, overprotection does more harm than good. Take a look at these negative effects, according to Parenting for Brain

  • It can cause anxiety in your child
  • It leads to a lack of coping skills
  • It makes kids less socially competent
  • It makes kids afraid to make mistakes
  • Overparented children are more likely to have issues with depression as adults

The bottom line – overprotection causes kids to have low self-esteem and motivation. When they aren’t given the opportunity to explore and flesh out their problems, they won’t figure out what they’re capable of. 

This leads me to my next point…

2) Not encouraging independence

When I was a young mom, I had a little bit of a helicopter streak in me. I’d hover over my son while he was doing homework. I’d swoop in to solve every little problem before he even had a chance to think about it. 

I was very proud of myself – I felt like I was being the best mom I could be! 

But as he grew older, I noticed a few things: 

It was hard to get him to try something new. Whenever he found something hard to do, he’d look to me for help. 

I realized that I had nobody else to blame – it was my fault for not trusting him to handle things on his own. 

Like the list above shows, independence teaches kids to make mistakes, face challenges, and figure challenges out by themselves. 

It was tough for me to take a step back, but watching him discover what he could do on his own without my help made it a little easier. 

3) Not setting boundaries

The opposite end isn’t any better. A lack of boundaries can easily damage a child’s sense of self-esteem and resilience, too. 

You see, kids need boundaries because that’s how they learn to self-regulate. A lot of parents find boundary-setting hard to do because they don’t want to upset their kids. 

But without boundaries, kids won’t have any idea how to meet expectations. How will they know they’ve met yours and pleased you? Which then leads to, how will they feel competent? 

Rules and routines also give your child a sense of stability, which is crucial for developing confidence and resilience. 

Plus, kids who grew up in permissive households also struggle with setting boundaries for themselves as adults. That doubles their vulnerability to abuse and bullying. 

If this is an area you struggle with, take heart in knowing that upsetting your child with some boundaries is an investment in their mental health. 

4) Neglecting to teach responsibility

This is closely connected to my previous point. Children need to learn about your expectations to be functional members of society. 

In an article in Wall Street Journal, developmental psychologist Richard Rende shares his insights on the importance of responsibility: 

“Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success, but ironically, we’ve stopped doing one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success—and that’s household chores. Decades of studies show the benefits of chores—academically, emotionally and even professionally.”

My own parenting experience echoes this as well, and it’s what helped me take a step back and be less helicopter-y. 

Tasks like packing away his own toys, and then later on, helping out with cleaning his room helped him feel more competent and in charge of his own space. 

Essentially, it taught him that he has the power to effect change in his environment. And that goes a long way in developing self-esteem and resilience.

That said, take care not to go overboard and make this next mistake… 

5) Overloading them with activities

child is HSCs 2 If you want to raise confident and resilient children, avoid making these 10 common parenting mistakes

I remember getting hooked many years ago on the old reality TV show, “Supernanny”. As a young mom, I learned a lot from that show! 

There were two episodes that still stand out in my mind: 

One where a teenage girl was so overloaded with chores that she fainted on-cam. And another where the kids were so overloaded with after-school activities that they were always stressed. 

What those episodes showed is that too much to do is counterproductive. Kids do need opportunities to learn, but balance is key. 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Harpreet Kaur says in an interview with CHOC

“I think parents feel this pressure to prepare their kids for academic success and make them competitive college applicants and make them successful for a job, but they often miss out on that unstructured playtime that provides some of the skills that kids need to be successful anyway.”

So yes, you might be coming from a place of good intentions for your child, but keeping them so busy can actually get in the way of building self-esteem and resilience. 

6) Ignoring their emotions and opinions

What those families in the episodes I mentioned above failed to do was to take into account what their kids really felt. 

In fact, when host Jo Frost asked the kids, “Can I ask you a question? Do we need to change the activities?”, there was a resounding “Yeah!!!”

No judgment here for those parents, though. They were doing the best for their kids in their own way, just like the rest of us are. 

I myself have been guilty of not listening to my child when he had something to say, either because I was too busy and just wanted to get things done, or because I had no patience to deal with those messy feelings. 

And let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t listen to them because we believe we know best (and to be fair, most of the time we do!). 

Still, listening is something that every parent should do because it’s what makes children feel important. Listening helps them process their thoughts and feelings and ultimately empowers them. 

7) Offering too much praise

Now we get into another tricky area – praise. We all know that we need to praise and encourage our kids to build self-esteem. 

But did you know there’s such a thing as too much praise? 

Strangely, telling our kids things like, “You’re so smart/beautiful!” isn’t as helpful as we think it is. It can actually lead to a sense of conditionality – that if they don’t do well next time, we won’t think highly of them. 

A Stanford study explored the harmful effects of this kind of praise and found that kids either: 

The trick is to praise the process, not the person. Focus on effort. That means saying, “Wow, you’re working so hard!” instead of, “Wow, you’re so smart!”

8) Comparing them to others

This is one I experienced firsthand as a child. My sister is smarter and much more outgoing than me, so I often heard, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Or, “Be like your sister and make more friends in your class.”

I know my mom didn’t mean it unkindly, she merely wanted me to get out of my shell more, and her closest, easiest reference was my sister. 

Comparing your child to others, even when well-meaning, isn’t going to make them feel good about themselves. It’s just going to make them feel like they don’t measure up to your standards.

Trust me, it took me many years of self-affirmation to break out of that pattern and see myself as a competent person with my own strengths. 

9) Skipping quality time

psychological theories that explain the long term effects of an unhappy childhood If you want to raise confident and resilient children, avoid making these 10 common parenting mistakes

I get it – life is busy. We parents have a lot on our plate!

However, quality time with our kids should never take a backseat to everything else. After all, this is THE job. Raising the future generation is serious business. 

You may not be the perfect parent (who is?) but believe me, as long as you show up for your kids and you’re there fully present (not glued to your phone), the time you spend with them will have a lasting impact. 

The message it sends is that they are important. And that they will have the support and reassurance they need whenever they need it. Those are what kids need to grow up confident and resilient. 

10) Failing to model resilience

Finally, let’s do a little self-check. How do you deal with problems yourself? How do you behave when you’re stressed? 

At the end of the day, parenting is teaching by example, not just by words. How can we teach our kids to be confident and resilient when they see us falling apart when we’re stressed? 

I realized this when I saw my child slam his notebook on the table when he got frustrated with homework. Naturally, I reminded him to be calm and take deep breaths instead. 

But I also saw myself in that behavior – I did have a habit of slamming things when stressed or frustrated. Believe me, that humbled me and revealed how far I still had to go to be a great parent. 

Final thoughts

Parenting is tough, for sure. But the fact that you’re here reading this means you’re already being a great one. 

Just keep putting in the effort, avoiding these mistakes, and learning how to do better, and your child will be lucky to have you! 

Picture of Roselle Umlas

Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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