child and mother
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
January 6, 2024 ·  5 min read

A therapist shares the 7 biggest parenting mistakes that destroy kids’ mental strength

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs you can have. It’s not just about providing your children with a roof over their heads and food in their belly. You’re trying to raise a child who will be bold, independent, kind, hard-working, and just in general, a good human being. Therapist Dr. Tracy Hutchinson says these are seven common parenting mistakes that inhibit kids’ ability to build mental strength. (1)

Seven Parenting Mistakes That Ruin Children’s Mental Strength

Mental and emotional resilience are important qualities for everyone to have. The world is a tough place to live in at times, and it isn’t getting any easier. It is necessary to help build your kids’ capacity to handle stress so that they will grow into independent, confident adults. (1)

According to Hutchinson, these are the seven most common parenting mistakes that prevent children from gaining that much-needed self-reliance. (1)

1. Rescuing Your Kids From Failure

No one makes it through life without messing up sometimes. Unfortunately, those screw-ups usually come with a few consequences. Constantly saving your kids from failure doesn’t allow them to learn from those mistakes. (1)

Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. It teaches perseverance, resilience, and determination. (1)

2. Minimizing Your Kids’ Feelings

In countries all over the world, people’s mental health is suffering. We need to be teaching the youngest generation that it is (1):

  1. Okay to have emotions and feelings, and
  2. Acceptable and important to express them.

Saying things like “don’t worry/be sad about “x” thing” or “it’s not a big deal” belittles your child’s emotions and feelings. This teaches them to suppress them rather than talk about them with a trusted confidant (in this case, you.). Always acknowledge and validate their feelings (“I know that you are scared/sad/frustrated/upset right now”) and then ask them what they think might make them feel better. (1)

This tactic teaches them how to brainstorm solutions and cope with difficult emotions in a healthy way. (1)

3. Overindulge Your Kids

Giving gifts on birthdays and special holidays is one thing, but always indulging in your kids’ every desire is another. Children need to learn that good things need to be earned via hard work. For example, no screen time until their homework is done or doing extra chores to earn something. This can be allowance (or an increase in allowance), but it can also be having a sleepover with friends or another activity or item. (1)

For example, say your child wants to have their friends over for a slumber party. You can tell them yes, on one condition: Your child must help you clean the house before and after the guests are there. (1)

This teaches them tenacity, work ethic, and mental toughness. (1)

Read: Single Dad Opens Up About Not Having the Same Support As Single Moms

4. Making Sure They Always Feel Comfortable

The comfort zone is well-named: It’s comfortable. Unfortunately, nothing grows in the comfort zone. Instead, anxiety and stress develop whenever your kids are faced with something new or different. (1)

There are plenty of things you can do to gently push your kid to test their comfort zone. These include:

  • Trying new foods
  • Making new friends
  • Playing a new sport
  • Try a new activity

Encouraging your kids to do things that might be a bit scary, like trying out for the school play, teaches them to be brave. It also increases their capacity for doing things that make them feel nervous. This, in turn, will increase their confidence and help them to make bold choices in their future. Don’t make this parenting mistake. Step outside the zone. (1)

5. The Ultimate Parenting Mistake: Expecting Perfection

The key here is focusing on having your kids always do their very best, not expecting them to be the very best. Of course, you want your children to excel and achieve big things, but they won’t always succeed or do things perfectly. (1)

Having extremely high expectations sets them up for failure and confidence and self-esteem when they are older. It teaches them that they are only valuable if they are the best at something. It also can cause fear of trying new things for fear of being bad at them. (1)

Instead, teaching them about setting realistic goals for themselves and always putting in 100% effort to achieve something. Perhaps your child isn’t great at math. Instead of telling them to work harder to get A’s, start with something realistic: Let’s just pass the next test, or at least get one grade higher.

Maybe your child is on the swim team. After every competition, help them look for the things they did well and the things they can do to improve, rather than focusing solely on winning.

6. No Parent-Child Boundaries

Children need their parents to love them and have fun with them. They also need to know that their parents are the boss and have to follow their rules. Setting boundaries – such as a strict bedtime, no phones at the table, rules about screen time, and outdoor play – gives your children structure and consistency. If you avoid this parenting mistake, it teaches them the importance of boundaries and that sometimes, you have to play by the rules. (1)

If you don’t set clear boundaries, you set yourself up for power struggles with your kids as they get older. (1)

7. Not Practising Self-Care

If you want your children to grow up taking care of themselves, then you need to model those behaviors for them. This means taking care of yourself, including (1):

  • Eating well
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking “you” time

You can also model healthy coping methods for your kids. Things like saying, “Work was stressful today, so I am going to go for a walk/run/drink a tea to relax,” show your kids what healthy coping mechanisms look like. (1)

Parenting Mistakes: The Bottom Line

You won’t be a perfect parent, but you will raise your kids to be mentally resilient if you can avoid these few common parenting mistakes.

Keep Reading: Lying down with your kids until they fall asleep is not a bad habit


  1. A therapist shares the 7 biggest parenting mistakes that destroy kids’ mental strength.” CNBC. Tracy Hutchinson. May 25, 2020.