The 5 Worst Parenting Mistakes You Might Be Making

by | Mar 14, 2021

Tips To Ensure You’re Making The Right Choices As A Parent

If you’re wanting to avoid the 5 worst parenting mistakes with your kids, you have come to the right place my friend.

Do you ever have those moments as a parent where you think, “Am I totally failing and making a zillion mistakes?”

We all second guess ourselves. It’s normal! 

There are definitely some things to avoid in parenting, so I came up with a list of the 5 worst parenting mistakes! If you happen to be a repeat offender of any of these, you’re not a failure. You’re human. 

Remember, every day is a new one, and filled with God’s new mercies.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making progress in our parenting! 

Here’s my list!

5 Worst Parenting Mistakes

  1. Inconsistent Discipline
  2. Not Listening To Your Kids
  3. Device Freedom
  4. Allowing Laziness
  5. Not Enough Family Time

I’m going to explain each one in more detail, as well as give you tips for healthier parenting behaviors. 

Let’s dive in and learn more together! 

*This article contains affiliate links which means I may make a small commission from any items that you purchase. 

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5 worst parenting mistakes

1. Inconsistent Discipline

I’m going to be very honest and say that consistency in discipline isn’t always my forte. We all have our moments where it’s easier to just let a behavior slide because we are just too dang tired. 

But it’s definitely one of the worst parenting mistakes you can make. 

Our kids are learning so much everyday, and many of the things they learn come from watching us and listening to us. 

If one day Addie lies and has a consequence and the next day she does it again but I let it slide, what am I teaching her? Lying isn’t a big deal? When Mommy is tired, she can get away with more? The list could keep going for sure! 

Consistent discipline doesn’t necessarily mean the exact same consequence every time. 

But what it does mean is that certain behaviors are not tolerated and there will always be some kind of conversation that occurs. There will be confrontation, a consequence, and hopefully reconciliation. 

I completely understand that sometimes we have days where we are swimming in laundry, dishes, and on our 4th attempt at heating up our morning coffee. We just can’t catch a break!

Those days can be super challenging when it comes to consistent discipline. 

Just because something is challenging or seems too hard in the moment doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow through. 

If you are struggling to be more consistent in discipline, know that you’re not alone. 

In those rough moments with your kids, know that taking the time to talk to them and address the behavior will go a long way towards their development. It also helps strengthen your relationship with them. 

Consistently disciplining your children is one of the most loving things you can do in their lives. 

In Scripture it says that the Lord disciplines those that He loves, and punishes everyone He considers as sons. It also says that discipline for a time can be painful, but in the end it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11-12)

When I discipline Addie, it’s not fun. I don’t enjoy enduring a crazy reaction or an unpleasant face from her.

However, the discipline isn’t about me. It’s about Addie and her heart. 

This is what I say to her all the time: 

“Addie, I love you so much, and I love you enough to tell you when you’re wrong. This behavior is never okay, and I love you too much to let it continue, which is why you’re having a consequence. Do you understand?” 

Consistent discipline doesn’t have to mean an immediate consequence. What’s important is that your child understands the behavior expectations in the home and what is/isn’t tolerated.

In order to better understand what’s expected, there needs to be conversations and consequences when those behavior standards are broken. 

Help Me Be More Consistent!

Here are some tips for being more consistent with discipline: 

  • Make a simple chart, kind of like a family mission statement. 

This is something you can come up with as a family that contains certain rules for how you’ve agreed to treat each other in your home. 

Here’s an example: 

In our home we will treat people with respect, use kind words, share and get along, and listen to each other. We want our home to be filled with love for God and love for one another.

This is a great thing to post somewhere in the house where it can be easily referenced during the day. If part of this statement is broken, you can bring the offender to the poster and reread it together.

It’s a great reminder of the family rules, and also a chance for you to follow through on a consequence. 

You can refer to it during the day, read it at meal times, and sooner or later your kids will have it memorized too. 

Seeing this statement posted in your home will help you with consistency in discipline.

  • Follow through on consequences.

    We all have our moments where it’s easier to let things slide, but in the long run it will go over much better if you follow through. Don’t make it super complicated. Administer the discipline, don’t make it emotional, and move on. 

Don’t make the parenting mistake of inconsistent discipline! 

Great Resource!

If you need a great book to help you with consistent discipline, my suggestion is 1-2-3 MAGIC! Read the reviews for yourself and snag it on Amazon. It comes highly recommended!

2. Not Listening To Your Kids

One of the worst parenting mistakes you can make? Not listening to your kids.

I’m not talking about listening to their stories that can drag on for hours.

Come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The stories! 

What I’m talking about is really listening to your kids and getting down on their level, wanting to hear what’s on their heart. 

This can come into play during the day, at night before bed, or even during a discipline conversation. 

I have found that I can totally fail at listening to Addie when there’s been a behavior issue. I’m very quick to start spouting off the mom talk and the things she’s done wrong without giving her a chance to share her point of view. #momfail

This makes her very angry. 

I don’t appreciate being ignored or not having the ability to share my thoughts, so why would it be any different for a child? 

When I give Addie a chance to talk, letting her share her perspective, the whole conversation goes so much better. 

I think as parents sometimes we just go on autopilot and are huge control freaks. Administer the discipline, give the mom talk, and move on with the day. 

That usually doesn’t go over very well with Addie. I need to do a better job at truly listening to her. 

I have heard, “Mommy!!!! Would you please just listen to me?” more times than I care to admit. 

When that happens, I realize that simply getting on Addie’s level, apologizing for not listening, and then letting her talk, will almost always deescalate the situation. 

Happy Mom, happy kid, right? 

News flash! Your relationships with your kids will be greatly improved if you make a concerted effort to listen to them! 

Help Me Be A Better Listener!

Here are a few tips for being a better listener as a parent. 

  • In a discipline conversation, let them talk first before you go into Mom mode. Give them a chance to have their say. 
  • Remember this verse, it helps me so much! 

“Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) 

I have prayed that verse for myself many times.

Be slow to speak. It will help you stay calm in those moments where you just want to lecture. 

You’re not going to be perfect as a mom, that’s a given. If you’re wanting to improve in the area of listening, just try your best. 

As your kids are growing and learning, you’re growing and learning too. It’s all about progress in parenting, not perfection!

Recommended Reading: Do These 7 Things NOW To Help Your Kids Listen Better

3. Device Freedom

I think one of the worst parenting mistakes that is made these days is giving kids way too much freedom on their devices. 

Whether it’s apps, games, unlimited time, no parental controls, not checking and reading through your kids texts or internet history, there needs to be more boundaries. 

Why is this one of the worst parenting mistakes? 

I’m glad you asked. 

All devices can be opportunities for kids to isolate themselves from the family and engage in who knows what with all kinds of people. 

Do you think it’s healthy for a teenager to sit in their room for hours on end on their phone? No way! 

Are you okay with your 8 year-old daughter using snapchat or texting her friends for 2 hours in her room? Absolutely not.

She’s 8. She needs to be getting her homework done, playing with her siblings, and spending time with the family, not holed up in her room on a device. 

Did you know that there’s an actual diagnosis for smartphone addiction these days? Craziness! 

I read that smartphone use among teenagers and a huge increase in depression rates are directly related. It’s no coincidence. 

Some kids are on their phones until 2 or 3 am! Stop the madness! Wise up and give your kids some boundaries. 

Now I don’t think devices are evil. We have a family iPad and Addie uses it every now and then. But there are rules and serious limitations for her. 

The device that Addie clings to the most is TV. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of letting her watch TV for 45 minutes to an hour while I prep and cook dinner. That’s great!

But after she’s reached her time limit, she knows to turn it off and go do something creative. 

Addie used to fight us on the TV going off, but she’s so used to it now that it doesn’t bother her. 

Don’t be afraid to give your kids boundaries with their devices. Remember, you’re the parent!

Just because they have a smartphone, doesn’t mean they get free reign. Having a phone or device is a privilege not a right.

 

Device freedom can create so much entitlement in our kids and teens. It can also bring about really ugly attitudes. That’s why they need boundaries!

Help your kids have a healthier and happier life by not giving them too much freedom on their devices. They will thank you for it later! 

Help Me Give My Kids Device Boundaries!

Need some ideas for how to create and enforce boundaries? Here are a few!

  • Make a cell phone contract and have your kids read through it and sign it. I’m 100% serious. 

There’s a great example of a phone contract in the book Raising Grateful Kids in An Entitled World. Please read it!

There are amazing parenting ideas all throughout the book. I cannot recommend it enough, it’s my favorite parenting book ever!

  • Remember, you’re the parent. You are in charge. Don’t be afraid of a 5 year-old tantrum or a 16 year-old tantrum. Eventually they will get over it. 
  • Be consistent. If a rule is broken, then the appropriate consequence needs to happen. Your child needs to understand that you mean what you say and that their obedience is more important than their device. 

You can do this! 

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5 worst parenting mistakes

4. Allowing Laziness

Another of the worst parenting mistakes that happens often is allowing laziness in our homes. 

I’m not talking about letting your teens sleep in a bit on the weekends. There’s wiggle room people.

As parents, we’d love to be able to sleep in ourselves! 

Allowing laziness refers to not emphasizing the value of hard work, permitting our kids to never pitch in, basically having a house full of sluggards.

Our job in parenting is to raise kind, hardworking humans who will one day be released into the world to be productive members of society.

Learning the value of hard work starts in our homes. Please don’t raise entitled ME-Monsters!

Addie is already learning that as a member of our family, she has chores and responsibilities. She has a role to play that is very important. 

She is 6 ½, and at this point she is expected to: put her dishes in the sink when she’s done with a meal, fold and put away her laundry, put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and help with the dishes. 

Does she always joyfully do these tasks? Nope. 

Do we, as parents, always joyfully take out the trash and do 8 loads of laundry a week? Absolutely not. 

My husband and I are finding that Addie really loves to help and participate. She understands that in families everyone pitches in, and when we are all doing our jobs well, things run more smoothly. 

It is definitely possible to not permit laziness in your home! 

Recommended Reading: 6 Tips For Raising Grateful Kids Instead Of “ME-Monsters”

Help Me Instill The Value Of Hard Work!

If you’re not wanting to allow laziness in your home, here are a few tips: 

  • Give your kids chores that are age-appropriate. Pinterest has tons of charts and ideas broken down by age. 
  • Let your kids work towards something by accomplishing their chores, whether it’s a new toy or earning an allowance. Addie gets $2 some weeks for doing her chores with a happy heart and no complaining. 
  • Model hard work to your kids! Obviously moms and dads work hard on a daily basis, but model hard work with your attitude and actions.

    Instead of laying on the couch for 3 hours watching TV, get stuff done and include your kids! 
  • Follow through on consequences when your kids refuse to help. They have to learn! 

Recommended Reading: Build Confidence In Your Kids With These 7 Awesome Tips!

5. Not Enough Family Time

Some people may debate me on this, but I’m sticking to my guns.

Not carving out enough family time and just blitzing through your weeks is one of the worst parenting mistakes. 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of family time! 

Our society is crazy busy. We could take some major notes from people in Europe. They practice a siesta time daily. They have a break in their day

In America, families are running around carting kids everywhere to 8,000 different activities and everyone passes each other like ships in the night. 

So sad. 

Family dinners around the table are a lost art in America. We are just too busy. 

Want to get to know your kids better and connect as a family? Make a point to eat dinner together around the table, not in front of the TV.

Ask them questions about their day. Share stories with one another. 

I understand that evenings can be busy and this isn’t always possible. Aim for at least 1-2 nights a week where everyone is around the table together. 

This will be life-giving to you as parents and for your kids as well.

Some of my favorite moments with my family are when we have big family dinners. 

There’s something about sharing a meal and good conversation that does something inside your heart. Meal times can be big connecting points with your kids. 

Don’t underestimate the power of family time!

Recommended Reading: Top 10 Fun-Filled Family Activities That Don’t Involve Screens

Help Me Carve Out More Family Time!

Here are a few tips for carving out more family time: 

  • Don’t let your kids be in so many activities. You might hate that idea, but it’s true. Less is more.

    Extra-curricular activities are not the pinnacle of your child’s existence. Having strong bonds as a family will set your child up for success in the long run, much more than playing 4 sports each year. 
  • Make family dinners a priority. If something is important enough to you and your spouse, you can find ways to make it happen.

    Try to have 1 or 2 nights a week where there aren’t any activities, and make a point to eat dinner together. If it has to be earlier than normal because one of your kids has an activity, that’s fine. Make it work! 
  • Plan for family nights. Take out your calendar and pick a couple nights each month where nothing will get scheduled. Make it sacred.

    Those are reserved for family nights. Whether you order pizza, watch a movie, or play games, those nights are reserved for your family. Our society is so busy that we have to do our part to protect our family time. It’s so important! 

Recommended Reading: 6 Easy Family Dinner Ideas + My Epic Ranch Recipe!

That’s A Wrap!

Thanks for hanging with me to learn about the 5 worst parenting mistakes to avoid.  

If you took the time to read this far, you really care about your parenting and doing right by your kids! 

Here’s the list one more time: 

5 Worst Parenting Mistakes

  1. Inconsistent Discipline
  2. Not Listening To Your Kids
  3. Device Freedom
  4. Allowing Laziness
  5. Not Enough Family Time

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Let it guide you. 

Remember, all we can give our kids each day is our best effort. 

We will fail. Our kids will fail. But each day we get a fresh start. 

As I say often, parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s about making progress. Progress in parenting is a huge victory! 

You can do this! 

Lots of love to each of you!

~Lisa 

48 Comments

  1. Brittany Taylor

    I love the statement that you say to your little one. “I love you enough to tell you when you are wrong.” That hits hard for me. I raise my stepson (10) and my brother (16) with my husband. With raising my brother, it’s so hard to stay within the parenting zone and push back the sister tendencies. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a parent first, then a sister. We have a great relationship, but disciplining and sticking to it is so TOUGH! I want to let everything slide because we both didn’t have the greatest childhoods, but that causes future troubles. Thank you for these great tips!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Wow, what a journey you are walking right now! I’ll be praying for wisdom for you as you navigate being a parent and a big sister. The most loving thing we can do for our kids (even little brothers) is to tell them when they are out of line. You can do it Brittany! Thanks for taking the time to read and a comment.

  2. Cari

    Wonderful article! You address the most important points in raising a responsible child who will be an outstanding citizen in the big, wide world one day! Parenting is, indeed, a process and thank you for reminding us that we get to hit the restart button every single morning.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Cari for your kind words of encouragement!

  3. Stacy Boswell

    Thanks for the great tips! I absolutely love that you include recommendations on what to reading to help learn and grow in each area.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Stacy! I’m glad you appreciated the tips!

  4. Marjorie

    This is so true. I’m speaking as a teacher as well as a daughter. I’ll keep this in mind when I become a parent myself.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for commenting Marjorie! I hope you’re able to put these tips into practice one day when you’re a parent.

  5. Denise Gardiner

    Great post! My sons are adults now, but I made many mistakes along their journey to adulthood. The thing is you also deal with different personalities, so how you discipline one, might not work on the other kids. Consistency and not allowing laziness to set in are so important.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Great insights Denise! I totally agree that discipline has to change sometimes depending on your child’s personality.

  6. Ananda

    The inconsistent discipline was a wake up call ! Thank you !

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Consistency is so key but also very hard to do!

  7. Erica

    This is a great article! Such great tips, very informative.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Erica! I’m so glad you found these tips helpful. I hope they come in handy for you. =)

  8. Lisa

    Consistency and attention is so necessary. Paying attention to the moment helps things also.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I agree Lisa, consistency is key!

  9. Kachina

    Some great points made! A lot to think about so thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Kachina. I hope in the future you get to apply some of these helpful tips!

  10. Sacha

    I definitely agree with number one – got to stay consistent when it comes to discipline.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Consistency in discipline is so important, but can be hard to do if you’re tired or just not feeling it. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Ally

    These are such great tips! Parenting can be hard so it’s great to have detailed articles like this to help educate parents on these mistakes and how to stop them! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Ally! Knowledge is power, right? If we are aware of potential mistakes, then we can at least try to be more proactive in practicing healthier habits as parents.

  12. Skylair

    Very informative stuff here!! As someone who is currently pregnant with her first child, I am learning different ways that I want to be a parent and I will totally be keeping these points in mind!!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you found this info helpful! Best wishes as you enter into the crazy amazing journey of parenting!

  13. Rachael

    These are awesome tips and will really help raise great kids!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Rachael! I’m so glad you found these helpful.

  14. Charissa

    All of these parenting things can be a struggle, but I think for me, the parenting mistake I’m most prone to is not listening. I have a tendency to just want them to listen, obey, and move on. I definitely need to work on that!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Totally agree Charissa! Really listening to what they have to say can be a tough one for me too. Thanks for commenting!

  15. Rupali

    That is a very apt list of mistakes we parents tend to make. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  16. Angela

    Great articles!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Angela!

  17. Mary Monique

    Before anything else, I love your blog!! I’m not a parent yet but I do have nieces and nephews so I can relate to this somehow. I definitely agree!! Inconsistent discipline is a mistake. You should never let laziness slide or even the smallest attempt of disrespect. You can’t tell them to do this but do it yourself. As a parent, you should do it by example. Such a great and informative article! Thanks for sharing xo

    http://www.lifebeginsattwenty.com

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Mary for your thoughtful comment! I hope one day you get the privilege of parenting and that you can put this article to good use. =)

  18. Jen Enoch

    1 and 4, for me, are a problem. Lately, I’ve been seeing the fruit of inconsistency, and it’s my kids who are suffering the consequences. My husband and I have been talking about how the kids need to be consistent, even when it’s not convenient. If they fall off track with their routines, it gives them a reason/excuse to challenge and ask “why” in the future. Great article..it was right on time for me.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you found this helpful Jen! I think as parents we all deal with inconsistency. It takes so much self-discipline and perseverance!

  19. Melisa

    Amazing information to share about family time for sure. We have been guilty of this but time to correct and move forward.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I always appreciate your kind comments Melisa! Love to your family. =)

  20. Julie Plagens

    One of the best parenting blogs I’ve read in a long time. These tips are right on. Not giving kids boundaries with their devices is a disaster. Glad you brought this up!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you so much Julie! I hope more parents give their kids device boundaries. It is so necessary. Young people don’t even know how to have proper conversations these days because they’re always glued to their phones!

  21. Jolayne

    I’ll have to pick one. Honestly, after a year of Covid, I think I probably stink at all of these.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I have been guilty of all of these at one time or another. You’re not alone Jolayne! We can try our best as parents, but we also have to show ourselves a lot of grace, especially with the chaos from Covid.

  22. Amber Hollis

    Great topic and tips! It’s always a great idea to take a step back and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Amber! I agree, self-evaluation and reflecting on our parenting is important towards progress and finding areas to improve.

    • Lisa

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  23. Sara

    I love that you not only list the mistakes but give suggestions on how to correct each one. My son is only 2 years old but I’ve already been trying to practice these same ideas.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Sara! I’m so glad you’re already putting these healthy habits into practice with your son. You got this Mama!

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