Poor parenting practices often affect children into adulthood.

How Does Bad Parenting Affect Children?

by Joanna Ehlers

Children are products of their environment. When a child's home life is filled with insecurity and fear, the child may lash out in ways that are destructive. Signs and symptoms of bad parenting can include social, emotional or behavioral problems. Knowing the signs and effects of poor parenting can be the first step toward helping a troubled child.


Neglect impacts a child's health and physical development, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. When a child is neglected during the first years of his life, the maltreatment can lead to cognitive delays or other psychological problems. Neglected children may suffer from poor nutrition or hygiene as well as intellectual deficits that can frustrate them in school and impact them into their adult years. Neglected children often have difficulty forming healthy relationships with classmates. They may display unusual eating habits or sleeping behaviors, suffer from depression or provoke fights with others. As adults, neglected children are prone to repeating neglectful practices with their own children.


Children who are exposed to abuse in their homes are vulnerable to anxiety and the development of low self-esteem, according to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They may experience far-reaching emotional, social and behavioral issues. Children who are abused or witness abuse may feel shame or confusion for their feelings about their parents. They may act out negatively or withdraw, and they may employ negative ways to seek an adult's attention. Abused children may isolate themselves from family or friends, avoid going home, and exhibit poor anger-management skills and hygiene. They may experience frequent head and stomach aches, and they may frequently complain of feeling tired.

Substance Abuse

When a parent abuses alcohol or drugs, a child's perception of normalcy becomes distorted. The caregiver's attitude toward the child may change with the level of sobriety, leading to an unpredictable and often chaotic home life. Children may be forced to shoulder adult responsibilities and grow up much too quickly. These children may stop their academic progress as a means of rebelling. The children of substance abusers are four times more likely to become substance abusers themselves, according to the website Treatment Solutions.

How to Help

Caregivers of abused children can provide a safe home, healthy diet, fair discipline and appropriate clothing, according to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Respecting the child's feelings and allowing privacy will help rebuild the trust that a child can feel for an adult. When neglect or abuse is suspected, the American Humane Association advises calling the local child protective services agency immediately. With your help and a strong support system in place, children who have been victims of bad parenting can go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

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