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How To Mess Up Your Kids –Not!

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Parenting is both rewarding and stressful. Wouldn’t it be great if a reliable “How To Raise Your Child” book came with the birth of your child? Since that doesn’t happen in real life, a lot of parents are finding a new article on “How to Mess up Your Kids” helpful.

The title of the article suggests that it offers ways to deliberately mess up your kids. Actually, it’s about 12 behaviors, that parents can fall into, that can and do cause problems.  The article covers 12 behaviors that parents “shouldn’t” do.

You can find the article, by Alice G. Walton, at Walton contacted experts in the field of child psychology, psychiatry, and pediatrics to discuss what parents should avoid doing so that their child can develop into a happy confident and well-rounded person.

Dr. Sue Hubbard, medical editor of, and a pediatrician in Dallas, Texas was one of the experts contacted for the article. Dr. Sue, as she is known by friends, patients, radio shows, TV programs and to the Kid’s Dr website readers, discussed 2 of the 12 behaviors.

“Try to be your child’s friend rather than his or her parent.”

This is a common mistake that parents make, particularly as their kids get older. All parents want to be liked and loved by their kids, and to be thought of as “cool” is especially desirable to some parents — so it can be easy to slip into the “friend” role, rather than the “parent” role. It’s critical to remain a parent, especially when it comes to setting boundaries about experimenting with substances.

The rate of alcohol and drug use in teens is climbing, and part of that may be due to the fact that parents want to be ‘their child’s friend’ rather than parent. It is often easier to say yes than no, and parents seem to turn a blind eye at times to the use of alcohol and drugs (especially marijuana) in their own homes. The scary part of this: alcohol is the leading cause of death among teenagers.

While some parents may feel that the safest place to experiment with substances is in the home, being too permissive about alcohol or drug use can backfire, giving kids the idea that underage drinking is ok as long as it’s at home. You must set an example for responsible alcohol use, and enforce the laws regarding underage drinking. Children watch their parents from very young ages, and they know what coming home drunk looks like.

Overly permissive parenting can be a concern in other areas, not just the drug and alcohol realm. Finding your way between being an authority figure and being a confident can be tricky, but it’s an important balance to strike. Being authoritative – using your years and accumulated knowledge to explain to your children – is different from being authoritarian, someone who says, “My way or the highway.” It’s not hard to guess which has the more lasting beneficial effect on a teenager or young child.

Fill your cupboards with junk food and skip family meals.

With our incredibly busy lives today, family mealtimes can become a casualty. When the kids are young, it’s natural to have an early meal for them, and one later for grown-ups. And with teens who tend to snack a lot and have after school activities, it’s easy for the evening meal to become an “every man for himself” event.

More and more research shows that families who eat together are healthier, both physically and mentally. Family meal time has somehow become an enigma rather than the norm. How this has evolved is not clear, but numerous studies have shown that children who eat family meals have more academic success in school, have less attention and behavior problems, have less drug and alcohol use and definitely have better table manners!

Families who eat together are also thinner and have reduced risk for eating disorders. So as much as is possible, try to have sit-down meals together, talking about the good and bad points in your day, and just being together. Don’t stress over family meals! You can buy pre-made food, add a few of your family’s favorite ingredients and enjoy it around the table.

The quality of the food you feed your family is also a major contributor to a healthy household.

Pediatrician, Jim Sears, M.D., co-host of the television show The Doctors, calls stocking the cabinets with junk food one of the most common mistakes we make. Depriving kids of nutritious food and making them overweight is a sure way to mess up kids. “It all comes down to shopping habits, and turning these around can make a big difference when it comes to our kids’ health.” According to Dr.Sears, “if you look at most pantries, you’ll find cookies, chips, and soda, even though the people that stock those pantries will say they’re trying to avoid junk. If it’s sitting in the fridge… you WILL see it and you WILL eat it. Even worse: your kids will see it and grow up thinking that you are supposed to have junk food “in stock” all the time.”

“I always encourage my families to change their thinking on how they shop. Having junk food around the house should be the exception, not the rule.” If you want to replace the junk food with healthier options, try doing it gradually (your kids might rebel if you do it all at once!).

What other things are parents doing that have a lasting negative effect? Check out the Doctor will see you now website and learn more.

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