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10 Things You Shouldn’t Do To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

Quite possibly, the most difficult job on Earth is being a parent. It doesn’t require any sort of licensure, schooling, or previous experience, and yet, we’re supposed to be masters at it. Not only is there no one right way to raise a child, but there are also tons of advice columns and websites offering contrasting opinions. Some long-held parenting philosophies can actually be detrimental to a child’s upbringing, such as those detailed in the following list.

1. Making your child the center of your world

Okay, newborn babies should definitely be the center of a parent’s world. As they grow, it becomes increasingly important to allow them time to grow as individuals. Not only that, but they must also come to the realization that you have a life outside of them. If you’re constantly dropping what you’re doing to cater to their needs (or more specifically, their wants), they’ll end up relying on you for everything. As they grow into young adults who are more than capable of fending for themselves most of the time, it’s important you let them do just that.

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2. Ignoring positive behavior

Children need positive reinforcement on a constant basis. For the most part, they honestly do not know right from wrong until it’s taught to them. I know in the real world you’ll never get pulled over by a cop and given money for stopping correctly at a stop sign, but you need to praise your children for a job well done — every time. Something as simple as, “Thank you so much for washing the dishes,” can go a long way. You can’t just assume your kid knows they’re doing a good job. Letting them know will build self-confidence within them, and they will ultimately end up doing good without needing praise.

3. Acknowledging negative behavior in unproductive ways

On the other hand, whenever your child does something they shouldn’t have, the knee-jerk reaction is to lay into them. While it definitely is important to respond to negative behavior and correct it, it should be done in an emotionless manner. Instead of flying off the handle, calmly state what was done wrong, remove the stimulus from the child (or the child from the stimulating area), and move on. If a child is constantly being yelled at, they will simply get used to it, and not really care whenever it happens. Being calm and rational in the face of negative behavior is the best way to nip it quickly in the bud.

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4. Not limiting behavior

You want your children to enjoy life as much as they possibly can, but as a parent, it’s your job to teach your children how to act in different situations. It’s definitely okay to put on old clothes and go splash in a puddle; however, it’s not okay to do this in your church clothes. It’s okay to talk while watching TV at home, but not while out at a movie. The best way to teach children about proper “time and place” is by demonstrating it yourself. They’ll always follow your lead, so make sure you set a good example.

5. Bending the rules or being lenient

If you have a set of rules for your household, it’s incredibly important that you always follow through with the consequences if the rules are broken, no matter what the case may be. If one parent bends the rules just once, the other will forever be known as the “bad guy”. This will cause more problems in the long run for the child, as well as the adult relationship. You have to be consistent in your punishments, or your child will learn that they might be able to get away with something at certain times, and not others. Put your foot down, and make sure they know who’s boss!

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6. Picking unwinnable fights

We all have heard the saying “choose your battles.” With children, this is of utmost importance. You should never stoop to a child’s level when a point of argument arises. Putting up a defense against a childish argument will only entice them more. Simply explain that you will not fight about whatever it is they want to argue about. It’s that simple: they want to argue, and you won’t stand for it. If they won’t eat their dinner, that’s totally fine. Eventually, they will if they get hungry enough. If they won’t do their homework, that’s fine; but there’s no Wii U tonight. Again, emotionless responses work the best to avoid escalating an already tough situation.

7. Not holding them accountable

I know we want to protect our children, and we usually see them as perfect angels. However, that’s not always the case, of course. They will cause trouble at some point in their young lives. Make sure they understand the consequences of their actions. This goes along with being consistent, but it even goes a bit farther. Look at the situation objectively. Understand that, though they are your children, their actions affect others that don’t care about them as much as you do, and will not think twice about punishing them for negative actions. Be sure to make them understand this as well.

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8. Giving in to what they want

Again, going along with staying consistent, you must never give in to their demands. In fact, children should never demand anything from their parents. No matter how much they pester you, it’s essential to remain persistent that your first ruling will be your final ruling. If you give in at some point, they’ll simply learn what your breaking point is, and skip right to it whenever they want something. If you say “No”, mean it!

9. Rewarding them incorrectly

Okay, I’m all for letting kids have some ice cream as a reward once in a while, but they can’t learn that tangible rewards come with every accomplishment. Doing so only makes them work for the reward. Instead, help them focus on how much they grew while completing whatever task they were working on. The reward should be their improvement, and the pleasure that comes from a job well done. Like I said, though: there’s nothing wrong with a little pick-me-up here and there!

10. Staying out of their lives

As children grow into adolescents, they often just want to be left alone. Unfortunately, this will simply further the divide between parent and child. While it’s important to give them space, it’s also important to be there for them, even when they say they don’t want you to be. Showing unconditional love is the best way to ensure a strong relationship with your child as they grow into an adult. They might screw up once in a while, and you might be just as upset with them as they are with you. However, these are the times you need to be there the most for your child, to ensure they grow up knowing they’ll always have your love and support.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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