Every parent makes mistakes (we’re all human, right?), but some mistakes and behaviors have longer-term repercussions than others on your child. You are the most important person in your child’s life, so what you say and do has a huge impact on them—now and in the future. The good news, though, is it’s never too late to make changes to ensure you’re raising your child in a safe, healthy, and loving environment. To start, be sure to skip these parenting no-nos:

1. SpankingSpanking can be subject of heated debate. Many parents firmly believe in spanking as a discipline tactic. One survey found that 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers engaged in spanking when children were age 3. But child-rearing and medical experts are almost unanimous in their opposition to spanking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), spanking is linked to everything from an increase in aggressive behavior to possible mental illness.

2. Giving in to your childChildren thrive when consistent, firm boundaries are in place, so raising a child in a boundary-free environment where there are no consequences for bad behavior and every whim is indulged can actually create long-term problems at home and school. Timeouts, setting rules, and talking calmly to your child about expectations can help them stay on the right track.

3. Allowing too much TV timeThe AAP recommends that children watch no more than two hours of television per day, while kids under two shouldn’t have any screen time at all. Excessive viewing can increase weight gain and aggression, as well as decrease vocabulary, math skills, and attention.

4. Feeding your child too much junkA healthy diet is essential to your child’s health, both physically and mentally. Not only can a diet filled with processed foods cause weight gain, but studies show that children that eat a lot of junk food have slightly lower IQs and more difficulty focusing in school.

5. No set bed timeNot only do children need a good night’s sleep to stay healthy and be alert at school, but research shows that not having a set bed time can actually lead to behavioral problems.

6. Skimping on quality timeBeing involved in your child’s life not only helps keep them out of trouble, but it also boosts their self-esteem. There is no “magic number” for how many hours a day you should spend with your child, but it’s important that when you are spending time with your child, you are focused on the child and engaged.

7. Engaging in substance abuseChildren with parents that abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to experience physical, intellectual, social, and emotional problems. They’re also more likely to have substance abuse issues when they get older.


  • All parents make mistakes, but avoiding some of the biggest can help ensure a healthy and happy environment for your child.
  • Spanking, engaging in substance abuse, and not spending time with your child can cause behavioral problems.
  • Giving your child consistency, such as a set bed time, will also help them stay healthy, both physically and emotionally.

Last reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, PhD. Review Date: September 2020


  1. Spanking and Child Development Across the First Decade of Life, Michael J. MacKenzie, PhD, Eric Nicklas, PhD, Jane Waldfogel, PhD, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Spanking Kids Can Make Them More Aggressive.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Spanking Linked to Mental Illness.
  4. PEDIATRICS Vol. 101 No. 4 April 1, 1998, pp. 723 -728.
  5. Linda S. Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick, Tracie A. Barnett.Early childhood television viewing and kindergarten entry readiness. Pediatric Research, 2013; DOI:10.1038/pr.2013.105.
  6. Lisa G. Smithers, Rebecca K. Golley, Murthy N. Mittinty, Laima Brazionis, Kate Northstone, Pauline Emmett, John W. Lynch. Dietary patterns at 6, 15 and 24 months of age are associated with IQ at 8 years of age. European Journal of Epidemiology, 2012; 27 (7): 525 DOI: 10.1007/s10654-012-9715-5.
  7. Journal of the American Dietetic Association”; Breakfast Habits … and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents; Gail C. Rampersaud, MS, RD, et al.; May 2005.
  8. US Department of Health & Human Services. Substance Abuse.
  9. Changes in Bedtime Schedules and Behavioral Difficulties in 7 Year Old Children, Kelly, et al. Pediatrics peds.2013-1906.
  10. Child Development, Volume 83, Issue 6, pages 2089–2103, November/December 2012.


  1. So, the baby signing videos are bad for babies?

    1. You are right, Joshua. Nothing replaces the benefit of quality face-to-face time. Even with face-to-face time with our children quality is more important than quantity.

  2. oh boy looks like my son wont be happy about no tv time. She likes it on but she doesn’t really watch it. Just like listening to it in the background

    1. Hi Serena,
      First, I want to say thank you for your husband’s service to our country and all the support you give him to do it. Being part of a military family comes at a great sacrifice you both have to make. In many ways you are a single mom at times and that is no easy task. It is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. It happens to the best of us. It is always a good thing to learn new ways to become a better mom. I want to encourage you to be sure to take time out for yourself too. No matter what we “know” we can only “perform” at our best we we are in good shape too. 🙂

    1. “Don’t hit or I’ll hit you!” And spanking = respect. Two arguments for spanking that are bad logic. All research aside, it’s difficult for me to think spanking is a smart when these are the two main cases for it. Does spanking work? Probably for a lot of kids. But Brad W. is right- it’s the easy way out. Speaking as a reformed spanker from the South (Southern people spank generally), I never thought about another option for discipline. In the beginning, we spanked because our parents spanked us. The more we read and thought about it, the more we realized it wasn’t the decision we wanted to make. Just because something is common practice doesn’t make it right. Whether parents spank or don’t spank- I encourage all of us to know our options, read the research that’s out there, and make an educated decision. If we as people always do things only because they’re always done, this world would not be the bustling place of growth and advancement that it is.

  3. Also, I want to stress that I don’t think you should be considered a “Bad Parent” for choosing to spank your child.

    1. I agree, there is a different between spanking and beating. Parents shouldn’t feel guilty for spanking, but they should for beating. I have read many articles on how our society is raising children to grow up and continue being children and feeling a sense of entitlement. Where is the empathy and respect for one another? Those are things we need to teach and harbor.

  4. It seems like spanking is the biggest point of contention with this article. I admit, I have popped my son’s hand on occasion (when he continues to grab a handful of the dog’s food and runs away from me giggling with glee no matter how many times I say “no no” or pop his hand and hurt his feelings), and yes, most of those times it has been more out of frustration than out of wanting to discipline him. I never received spankings growing up, but my sister’s did. I either didn’t get caught or only got the threat before I straightened my act up. So I’m on the fence about “real” spanking. I would like to try a less aggressive method of discipline, but I also fear a world without real consequences for your actions. I, like Brad W., feel like we’ve gone soft. Children walk all over their parents and teachers these days (and in most cases, the parents are the ones helping the kids walk all over the teachers!). That type of behavior would never have been tolerated when I was in school. We feared a trip to the principal’s office. Now kids get sent home and are given zeros on their schoolwork for the day…do you think that makes a difference? Wow, I’m going off on a tangent… Back to spanking: I don’t want my son to think I’m an evil monster for choosing to spank or that he can walk all over me and that life is a bunch of lollipops and rainbows if I choose not to spank, so how do you strike a healthy balance? I honestly don’t think there’s a right answer here.

  5. I like this article as well. I think if all of these guidelines are followed, you’re a GREAT parent and wow, I applaud you. Because, honestly some of these are tough to abide by in everyday life. There’s been a few spankings here in my house, more like a “tough patting on the behind”, but I really don’t like it, so they’re very rare. It’s so hard not to give in to your children sometimes, but I can honestly say, we are very good about sticking with what we say around here. I’ll give a warning when the kids do something bad, and if it’s done again, then they won’t be allowed something, etc. I’m not going to say that happens ALL the time, but we try our best. I’m very good about food and giving them three healthy meals a day and two snacks. There is a treat here and there, but we are great about staying away from junk food. And finally bed time. That’s another we really stick to. Getting enough sleep is very important around here and I agree, it helps your childs temperament and it’ll help all of you in the long run to stick with a bedtime routine! I could go on but these are great points to try and follow.

  6. I like the article I was raised with spanking and I turned out just fine and tryin to tell me your not aloud to spank your child. Time outs never work aleast it didnt work for me. Thats the only part of the article I don’t agree with.

    1. What age do you think spanking should be okay? I was also raised being spanked and my mom now admits that she wishes she would’ve had a different approach because it only made me act out more.

    1. Great question, Holly. I would say education- discussing what you read together, and evaluating information on different types of discipline methods- before you need it.

  7. I like this article, and whole heartedly agree. However, I also truly believe that the new generation of parents is “wussifying” America. A lot of us say our parents or grandparents are our heroes and role models. Well, back in their day you got a physical punishment if you talked back. I’m not advocating spanking or hitting your child. For some reason, a lot of things they did “made you tougher.” But the same treatment now causes us to break down and become weak. Why?


Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.