Positive kids require positive parenting.

How Parental Negativity Can Affect Children

by Kay Ireland

While it's certainly true that parenting isn't always sunshine and roses, focusing too much on the thunderclouds could put your child in a poor position. Negative parenting tactics, such as lecturing, complaining, insulting and yes, even nagging, can have a serious effect on your child's behavior and activities later on in life. Find out how all of that nagging and negative feedback is hurting your child so you can switch to more of a "glass half-full" parenting style.

1. Social Relationships

A 2012 report released by the British Department for Education found a direct correlation between negative parenting and antisocial behavior. It's not surprising --when you're constantly berating and nagging at your child, he's hardly apt to actively seek out the companionship of others. Instead, his negative feelings toward himself cultivate a feeling of unworthiness around other children, especially those who are receiving gold stars for their behavior instead.

2. Self-Esteem

You can hardly expect a child who is constantly fed with negativity to love what he sees in the mirror each day. Your negative attitude permeates much more than just your child's confidence. You might compare it to how you would feel if you were constantly being interrupted, talked over and ignored at work: you'd have a hard time considering yourself important in the corporate world. The same goes for kids at home. He carries his self-worth based on your attitude toward him everywhere he goes . . . even after moving out of your home.

3. Mental Health

If your general negativity is more than just your general attitude, but actually a chemical unbalance that is causing depression, you'll have to watch your words and actions even more carefully. A report released by the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota found that when a parent -- specifically, a mother -- is depressed, her child is more likely to have similar symptoms, including sadness, social withdrawal and a higher likelihood of later substance abuse. That's why it's vital that your depressive symptoms are properly managed and monitored by competent medical professionals to lessen the effect on your child.

4. Behavior

It's a vicious cycle: your child acts up -- say, throwing food at dinner or talking back to you. You respond negatively because you're annoyed or mad and then your child retaliates with more bad behavior. The report by the British Department for Education found that children of negative parents were more likely to act out behavior-wise. You might be thinking that your negative reaction is helping to instill discipline, when it could be doing the exact opposite. Often, recognizing the positive in your child instead of dwelling on the negative offers the best results when it comes to overall behavior.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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