15 Misguided Parental Advice Society Shares

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Parenting advice is everywhere, often passed down through generations. But not all of it is as timeless as we might think. Let us explore 15 common pieces of parental guidance that might need a second look, helping you sift the helpful tips from the outdated ones to better guide your parenting approach.

“Let them cry it out; they need to learn to self-soothe.”

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You have likely heard this before: Let your child cry at night to teach them self-soothing. Though it might work for some, it feels harsh for many. Babies cry to communicate needs—hunger, discomfort, or just a cuddle. Responding to these cries builds trust and security, letting them know you are there for them.

“Always put your children first, no matter what.”

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This advice comes from a good place, but it is not always practical. Think about it like this: if you are running on empty, how can you give your best to anyone else, including your kids? Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is necessary. A happy, healthy parent is more capable of handling the stresses of parenting.

“Push them hard academically; they’ll thank you later.”

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We all want our kids to do well in school, but cranking up the pressure can sometimes do more harm than good. Every kid is different. Some might thrive under pressure, but others might get stressed out or start to resent school. It is all about finding a balance. 

“Don’t let them do anything dangerous.”

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No one wants their kid to get hurt, but bubble-wrapping them is not the answer either. Kids need to explore, and sometimes that means getting a few scrapes. Climbing a tree or riding a bike fast might sound scary, but with the right safety measures and supervision, these activities can teach kids a lot about their own limits and abilities. 

“If they’re not ready to potty train by age two, you’re behind.”

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Potty training can be a battleground. Some kids are ready before they turn two, and others might not be there yet, even at three. Pushing your child to use the toilet before they are ready can just lead to frustration for both of you. It is usually smoother to watch for signs that they are interested and keep the process positive.

“Good kids are seen, not heard.”

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This old-school advice is based on the idea that children should be quiet and not interrupt adults. But this can stifle their ability to express themselves and communicate openly. Encouraging kids to share their thoughts and feelings helps them develop better communication skills and confidence. 

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

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This phrase has been used to justify physical discipline for generations, but research shows that hitting does not teach right from wrong; instead, it can lead to more aggression and behavioral issues in children. Effective discipline involves setting clear boundaries and consequences that are enforced with consistency and understanding, not fear.

“Never let them see you sweat.”

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The advice suggests that parents should always appear composed and in control in front of their children to maintain authority. This advice can be misguided because it promotes a facade of perfection and invulnerability, which is not realistic or healthy. It is beneficial for children to see that their parents are human, too, experiencing stress and emotions just like anyone else.

“Children should always obey their parents.”

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Obedience, without question, might seem like it makes parenting easier, but it can discourage critical thinking and independence. It is beneficial for children to learn why rules exist and to feel comfortable asking questions. This way, they learn to make good decisions for themselves rather than following orders blindly.

“Always intervene in sibling conflicts.”

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Jumping in to solve every argument between siblings teaches them to rely on others to resolve their disputes. It is often more effective to let them work through minor disagreements on their own, which can help them develop negotiation skills and an understanding of compromise. Of course, you should step in if things escalate to prevent any harm.

“Teach them that winning is everything.”

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While it is great to encourage a healthy sense of competition, stressing winning above all else can create undue pressure and overshadow the importance of simply enjoying the activity or learning from the process. Encourage your kids to strive for excellence in what they do, but also to understand that losing is part of life.

“Kids will be kids” (to excuse bad behavior).

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This saying can sometimes be used to dismiss problematic behavior under the guise of children just acting their age. While it is true that kids often test boundaries as part of their development, it is crucial to address inappropriate actions and teach the right behaviors. Ignoring issues can lead to them becoming ingrained habits.

“Always keep them busy with activities.”

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Packing your child’s schedule with back-to-back activities might seem like a great way to develop their skills and talents, but it can actually lead to stress and burnout for both kids and parents. It is important to allow some downtime for unstructured play, which is essential for creative thinking and problem-solving. 

“They’re too young to talk about tough issues.”

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Whether it is discussions about race, sexuality, or even family issues like divorce, shielding children from tough topics can make them feel more confused or anxious when they inevitably encounter these issues. It is better to provide age-appropriate explanations and be a safe person for them to ask questions. This approach fosters openness and understanding from a young age.

“Praise them for being smart.”

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This might seem like positive reinforcement, but focusing praise solely on innate qualities like intelligence can make children feel pressure to always perform at a top level and fear failure. Instead, it is more beneficial to praise effort, strategies, and persistence. This encourages a growth mindset, where kids understand that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.


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