Healthy parenting: Do's and don'ts

by Radwa El Samahy

There is no doubt that raising kids is one of the toughest yet most fulfilling jobs in the world - and the one you may feel most unprepared for! 
Raising a child is full of surprises, no matter how many books, parenting forums and articles you read, the truth is that nothing can get you fully prepared for it. 


“A good parent is someone who strives to make decisions in the best interest of the child.”

Kids start developing their sense of self seeing themselves through their parents’ eyes. That’s why there are many factors that might seem minor to you, but can have a huge effect on your child’s self-esteem; such as your tone of voice, body language, and expressions. 


8 verbal abuses 

According to Coach Hanan Sabry, ICF Certified Parenting Coach, there are eight forms of verbal abuse that occur in families, and that parents ought to be very mindful of to avoid practicing them on their children. 

  • Comparison

Comparing your child against their sibling and/or relative leads to them growing up to focus on others as adults instead of themselves. 
Instead, opt for a positive form of comparison, which is teaching them to compare their present self with their past self, focusing on their own personal development and growth. 


  • Criticism 

A lot of parents fall into the trap of frequently criticizing their children out of wanting the best for them, whether they do it consciously or unconsciously. 
These constant toxic commentary during their childhood lead to an adult who is always hesitant and unsure of his life choices. 
Instead, you can always replace those comments with constructive feedback focusing on their strengths and development. 


  • Blaming 

Holding your child responsible for your own actions and choices teaches them to always throw the blame on others and never take responsibility for their actions as adults. In addition, they find themselves always feeling guilty towards you. 


  • Judgment 

 As a parent, you are not responsible for identifying the rights and wrongs of your child’s decisions. Constantly pointing out their mistakes and wrong-doings leads to them allowing everyone else to do the same. 
Instead, give them the space to make choices and self-reflections. That will allow them to think freely and deeply about the consequences of their actions. 


  • Labeling 

Negative labeling is like sticking a belief inside them with a super glue. Whatever you say to them, they will keep repeating to themselves even when they are older. Describing them as losers, lazy, stupid, selfish, etc. doesn't go away, it stays printed inside their heads.


  • Sarcasm 
Making fun of their appearances and forcing them to accept it under the umbrella of “you can’t take a joke” is another form of abuse, believe it or not. 

It leads to an adult who doesn’t accept themselves and who lets others make fun of them. 


  • Deserving
“You deserve../you don’t deserve..” 

Pointing out that they deserve the consequences of their mistakes because they did not listen to you creates a belief inside them that they don't deserve anything good. 
A famous example of this abuse is telling a child they deserve the pain they’re feeling after falling down because they didn’t listen to you telling them to sit still. 


  • Shaming 

The mother of all abuses. 
“You’re a shame to this family” this one combines all previous seven abuses into one. It takes form in always reminding them that they bring shame to the family whenever they make a mistake, however big or small. 
That one is the worst of all, because according to experts, it often leads to suicide.

Healthy successful parenting is not about achieving perfection, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't work towards that goal. Set high standards for yourself first and then your child second, and always remember that you are their first role model, whatever you do they will follow.


Principles of healthy parenting 

  • Lead by example 

Young children learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents. So before you lash out or get aggressive, ask yourself if this is how you want your child to behave when they are angry. And then use that technique to model the traits you wish to see in your children: respect, honesty, kindness, friendliness, etc. 


  • There is no such thing as a too loving parent  

It’s not possible to spoil your child by simply loving them. This isn’t really how it works, it’s usually the consequence of giving the child other things in the place of love, such as lowered expectations, material possessions, leniency and so on.

  • Adjust your parenting style to fit the child 

Keep pace with your child’s development, as they grow, they change. So whatever works now probably won’t work in a year or two. 

Parents often feel disappointed by their child’s behavior due to their unrealistic expectations; such as thinking in “shoulds” - for example, “My kid should be potty-trained by now!”. It’s important to know that each child’s development can be different from another child’s, as their environments have an effect on their behavior. 

  • Communication is key

What is clear and obvious to you, might not be as clear to your 5, 8 or 12-year old. You cannot expect children to do everything because you simply “said so”.  If we don't take time to explain, kids will begin to wonder about our values and motives and whether they have any basis. Parents who reason with their kids allow them to understand and learn in a nonjudgmental way.


Psychologists have found that positive parenting can promote children’s confidence and provide them with the tools needed to make good life choices. It also nurtures their self-esteem, creativity, belief in the future and ability to get along with others. As a parent, don’t forget that you’re human too and are bound to make mistakes, the ideal thing to do then is to take that opportunity to apologize to your kid and model how one can recover when they mess up.

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