52 of the Worst Parenting Tips Parents Get

Parenting is definitely not one size fits all, but some pieces of advice are downright wrong. Our experts name the troublesome tips you can feel free to ignore.

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"If your child bites, bite them back so they know how it feels"

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"Yikes! This is terrible parenting advice and not likely to lead to very much learning on your child's part. This advice essentially suggests that kids learn not to hit or bite (or use any aggressive behavior) as a function of understanding how it feels when it happens to them. However, this doesn't work in real life. First, kids who do hit or bite often do so because they lack the skills to communicate in more appropriate ways. Second, hitting them back doesn't take away the original cause of the frustration or teach them different skills for managing that negative emotion in the future. Instead, the parent ends up modeling the exact behavior they want the child to avoid." —Yamalis Diaz, PhD, clinical associate professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone's Child Study Center

"Don't rely on rules; let kids figure it out themselves"

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"While it's true that kids don't need rules for everything and being overly strict can lead to negative behavior, kids absolutely do need rules and limits. Kids feel more secure and sure of the world around them when they know what to expect and what's expected of them. Through rules, they learn to understand the difference between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, allowed and not allowed, respectful and not respectful. Letting kids figure it out on their own is likely to lead to a lot of bumps in the road that may be hard or nearly impossible to smooth out later when the young adult is faced with a society that has lots of rules." —Yamalis Diaz

"If your child won't share, make them"

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"Children are not developmentally capable of putting their own feelings aside for another's feelings until at least age five. And the bigger the feelings, the longer that is going to take to come on line. This means you have to be sensitive to whether or not sharing is a realistic expectation. I always tell parents that if your child has a very special toy, put it away before a playdate. For other toys, have an adult nearby to help the kids navigate sharing as needed." —Vanessa Lapointe, PhD, psychologist, parenting expert, mother, and author of Discipline Without Damage: How To Get Your Kids To Behave Without Messing Them Up

"Kids need playdates or they'll grow up antisocial"

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"We can be really focused on playdates as a necessary part of healthy child development, but the truth is that far more than children need time with other children, they need time with their special adults: moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, and family friends. Natural multi-age clustering of children as would happen at family get-togethers and neighborhood BBQs is a wonderful way for children to navigate social interaction naturally." —Vanessa Lapointe

"If you don't do preschool your kid will never be ready for kindergarten"

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"I absolutely do not feel that Pre-K or preschool is necessary. The more time children have with their primary caregivers in a stimulating environment the better. Of course, there are also several other things that often weigh into this consideration for families, including economics, two-working parent households, etc. But generally speaking, if kids are at home with a primary caregiver in an enriched environment, then that is a lovely place for them to stay, and they will learn plenty." —Vanessa Lapointe

"Safety always comes first—better safe than sorry"

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"We live in a world that warns us of danger at every turn, so many adults are safety obsessed, especially when it comes to our kids. Unfortunately, over-protecting has an adverse effect on them. It teaches them not to take risks and to be afraid of everything. Our failure to let them try risky things may explain why so many young adults still live at home or haven't started a career. We're creating scared children who grow into risk-averse, and therefore less independent, young adults."— Tim Elmore, PhD, president of Growing Leaders and author of Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid

"Sometimes you have to bribe kids to get them to do the right thing"

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"We have fallen into a behavioral trap as parents where we feel that every action our kids take must be either rewarded or punished, incentivizing good behavior. Parents often pay children money to get good grades, to do basic chores like feeding the dog, or for self-care like picking up dirty clothes. We need to be teaching children to do something because it is the right thing to do, not simply because they expect a reward for it." —Sara Villanueva, PhD, professor of psychology at St. Edward's University and author of The Angst of Adolescence: How to Parent Your Teen and Live to Laugh About It

"Failure is to be avoided at all costs"

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"A winning attitude will make your child more competitive, but while a healthy dose of competition and confidence in one's abilities is good, teaching your child that losing is not an option is simply setting them up for true failure. This is an unrealistic expectation. When—not if—the child fails at something, the failure will likely by internalized, and self-esteem, self-worth will suffer." —Sara Villanueva

"It's okay for them to have TV in their bedrooms"

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"Children under five should not have televisions in their rooms, and really there is no benefit to having a TV in the bedroom at any age. Recent research supports limiting screen time of children under two, and we continue to support this with teenagers and older children. Sleep and learning are impacted when children have televisions in their rooms." —Stacy Haynes, EdD, LPC, ACS, psychologist, blogger, and author of Powerful Peaceful Parenting: Guiding Children, Changing Lives

"You should be best friends with your child"

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"What this generally creates is a hovering parent who is overly involved in every aspect of the child's daily life. While it is important to have a close, loving relationship with your child, it is equally important to give that child the necessary independence required to develop self-confidence and resilience to cope effectively. The parent and child are not on the same level. It is not an equal relationship, like most friendships. You need to remember that your child's well-being is more important than your child's opinion of you. In addition, oversharing with your children and/or establishing dependence on them to meet your social needs can have significant negative effects on them." —Mary Beth Somich, LPCA, licensed child and family therapist in North Carolina

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