10 Things Parents Should NEVER Do


It’s common for parents to focus on what they need to do in order to raise healthy kids, but they often overlook what they should NOT do. So, if you love your children and want to help them grow into stable, thoughtful, productive, and loving adults, here are 10 things you should avoid doing.



It’s common for parents to focus on what they need to do in order to raise healthy kids, but they often overlook what they should NOT be doing. Click To Tweet

10 Things Parents Should NEVER Do

1. Ignore their brain.

Their brain controls everything they do—how they think, behave, and relate to others. When their brain works right, they work right, but when their brain is troubled, they have trouble in life. And if they have problems in their life, you have problems in yours. Brain SPECT imaging reveals the health of a person’s brain. The SPECT images below show a healthy brain, one with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the brain of someone with ADD/ADHD. If you want your child to be their best, you must teach them to take care of their brain.

Healthy SPECT Brain Scan: full, symmetrical activity

Head Trauma: damage to right frontal lobe

Classic ADD/ADHD: low activity in prefrontal cortex

2. Rarely spend quality time with them.

Healthy parent-child relationships require special time together. One of the most effective things you can do is spend at least 20 minutes of quality time each day with your child—listening and doing something they want to do (within reason). Silence your phone so you can pay 100% attention to your child. Research has found that when parents are always distracted by their devices children can act out and behave poorly in order to get their attention.

3. Be a poor listener.

When your kids are trying to talk to you, don’t speak over them. Learn to be an active listener. Let them say what they need to and then repeat back what you heard so they know you are listening.

4. Use name-calling.

Don’t tell your child, “You’re a spoiled brat” or say they are stupid when they’ve made a mistake or done something wrong. This is not helpful for their development. They will internalize these negative names and begin to believe them, which can adversely affect their self-esteem.

5. Be overly permissive.

Letting your kids do whatever they want may make them “happy” in the moment, but it can be detrimental in the long run. Children need clear boundaries to help them understand what is and is not ok. Do this by being firm but kind. Kids who have the most psychological problems usually have parents who don’t set boundaries for them.

6. Fail to supervise them.

The brain’s frontal lobes—which are involved in planning, judgment, and impulse control—are not fully developed until about age 25. Therefore, you need to act as your children’s frontal lobes until theirs develop. This means checking in on what your kids are doing and with whom and helping them make good decisions. This doesn’t make you a helicopter parent—rather, it shows how much you care.

7. Do as I say, not as I do.

If you’re a poor role model, your kids will pick up on that and follow your lead. If you say, “eat your vegetables” but you constantly snack on candy or potato chips, they will likely opt for the foods they see you eating.

8. Only notice what they do wrong.

Kids want the attention of their parents, but many only get it when they’ve done something wrong, which reinforces the negative behaviors. Instead of doing that, notice when your kids do things you like—cleaning up their room, finishing their homework, or brushing their teeth—and praise them for their positive behavior.

9. Ignore their mental health issues.

On average, it takes 11 years from the time a child starts to develop symptoms of a mental health condition to when they are seen for their first psychiatric evaluation. In the meantime, children with untreated symptoms of ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other issues can struggle to succeed in school, in their friendships, and in life.

10. Ignore your own mental health.

If you are suffering from any mental health problems, it can devastate your children. Remember the saying, “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” You need to take care of yourself and be the best version of yourself so you can also be the best parent to them.

Behavior problems, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.



  1. What causes a person to not be able to get a good night`s sleep. I have not had a good night`s sleep in over six months. Is it possible to be depressed and not realize it? That seems like a crazy question to need to ask. Is it realistic to assume that things like anxiety and depression could make it more difficult to get a good night`s sleep? I have sometimes slept for about three hours and not be able to get back to sleep. Once I was awake all night, but I spent that night deep breathing, maybe it was almost like meditating, and thought of only my happiest moments in my life. Much to my surprise, when I got up, about seven hours later, I felt pretty rested.

    Thank-you, for your time.

    Bruce McEachern .

    Comment by Bruce McEachern — May 4, 2019 @ 8:56 AM

  2. Hello Bruce, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. There are many reasons that your brain health could be affecting your sleep (https://amenclinics.com/conditions/sleep-disorders/). We do have specialists at some of our clinic locations that work with sleep-related concerns, symptoms, and disorders. Please reach out to us at 888-288-9834. Thank you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 11:04 AM

  3. My parents unfortunately were subject to doing the entire list. My poor mother was pretty much stuck with the parenting along with all of the domestic work. My father loved his work and was busy for most of my childhood participating in football coaching, football on television – often and doing jobs for people and the Church. They were ruled by my grandmother, their traditions and the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t recall spending any quality time with either parent, alone doing something that I loved.

    Yes I turned out with problems not only because of the parenting but other issues and when I had money I wish I would have received your treatment because it has been decades to cure my eating problems and binge drinking which ruined my life. I am now living a healthy life but I have no quality, long term relationships nor do I have savings for my future.

    Brain health is vital and your work is very important. Thank you.

    Comment by JP — May 10, 2019 @ 3:58 AM

  4. What treatments did you do?

    Comment by andy — May 10, 2019 @ 8:37 AM

  5. I was in a car accident at age 18 months in 1971. 3 inch scar across my forehead and stitiches. By 3 yo, I was havi g sleeping problems, by 4, tinnitus. By 2nd grade I was depressive, paranoid and suicidal. And my parents were “detachment parents” so as long as I kept out of trpuble, they largely ignored me. Most individual attention was from my mom, and it was very negative, when I did something wrong, like use a utensil the wrong way at dinner with their adult friends. She took the avenue of shame and embarassment.

    Yikes, they wonder why I didn’t make much of myself as an adult? Got through college and a low end job and that was it. I spent my wole life on the depressive cycle dizzy-go-round, and a lot of energy hiding it. I had the self esteem of a sea slug.

    BUT, the good news is that yes, a brain is resillient. I will always have raging tinnitus, but I cured my depression. Dr. Amen’s description of ANT’s was the catalist. I realized I needed control in my own head. So, I created a routine of creating control and serentity and a safe place in my own mind, because a depressive episode hijacks your head and leaves you with no safe place to exist. So, I created one. I created peace. My PFC stopped tolerating the garbage ANT’s created in the limbic system.


    Comment by Navy L — May 10, 2019 @ 9:34 AM

  6. JP, I so feel for you. The feeling of being a “set-it-and-forget” house pet instead of a child is what I have for childhood memories. My dad tried in ways he could, but my mom set to thone for the detachmet, under the excuse of the advice someone said of “don’t be your child’s friend”.

    At 7 years old, I vowed “when I am the parent, things will be different”. And they were. I took time with each of my 2 sons. I created memories of goong running together, making meals together. I was completely the opposite parent as my mom. Now? I have great relationships with my sons. They are thriving academically and socially, which I never did.

    Like you, I have a bland relationhip with my surving parent, my mom.. She had the opportunity it interact with me. But she didn’t. But as a parent, I did. I interacted with my sons. Sure they got an occasional lecture, but we mostly had conversations. Civil 2-way dialogue.

    Well, her loss. I can thank her for maki g me aware of how precious the early childhood years are, and I made the most of them with my kids.

    Comment by Navy L — May 10, 2019 @ 9:50 AM

  7. What about screen time? I feel that we are witnessing the “dumbing-down” of the USA!

    Comment by Donna — May 11, 2019 @ 3:10 AM

  8. How does grief affect the brain? I’m totally scatterbrained and I’m having a lot of trouble with my memory since both my spouse and my mother passed over a year ago… my health and mind has deteriorated to the point where I can hardly get anything done and I look and feel terrible much of the time. I’m accident prone (I’ve thrown my back and knee out, and recently fractured a finger) and I have mystery ailments. I feel like I’m constantly fighting an infection. I’m anxious and paranoid about my health. I work with Dementia patients and I’m afraid of becoming one. I’m not myself. I just dropped one pair of clients, a couple who are both in very poor health, because I’m thinking they might have toxic mold syndrome from their basement, and I’m concerned that I may have it too. I’ve been to an allergist about the mold but all they could offer is the scratch test which came out negative. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, and ptsd, but I’ve never been like this. Is this a somewhat normal grief reaction or should I be concerned? Is there a more effective way to rule out toxic mold syndrome? Will I come back from this? I am doing some healthy things for myself such as yoga and meditation, and I began a keto diet, but it doesn’t seem to be enough and I struggle to be consistent about anything because of my brain. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. Thank you.

    Comment by Kay — May 11, 2019 @ 6:36 AM

  9. Hello Andy

    Feel free to write to at sweptaway100@yahoo.com.

    In brief: I did hypnosis and traditional talk therapy for about 10 years with different therapists. Unfortunately I suffered quite a bit but through sobriety and exercise: yoga, pilates, horse riding, hiking and communing with nature I am healing. I was raised a Roman Catholic, after many years I am attending mass regularly and participating in the sacraments. I enjoy it.

    Comment by JP — May 12, 2019 @ 5:23 AM

  10. Please tell me how you accomplished being depression free. I desperately need help with my depression.

    Comment by Barbara Landtroop — May 16, 2019 @ 1:51 PM

  11. Barbara Landtroop: Like Navy L, make a decision that you will no longer tolerate being depressed. Being what and who you want to be is what matters!

    Comment by Dr. Joanny Liu — May 21, 2019 @ 7:33 AM

  12. Bravo! You did this!

    Comment by Dr. Joanny Liu — May 21, 2019 @ 7:34 AM

  13. Thank you for sharing amazing post with us. I appreciate your research. It would really helpful for new parents who generally make mistakes. Now, by reading your post they will take care of these things and would not make mistakes.

    Comment by Aabha Sampath — November 10, 2021 @ 2:10 AM

  14. The importance emphasized here is so practical and informative. Will definitely help to build a strong and positive bonds between parents and their kids.

    Comment by Robby Baby — January 17, 2022 @ 4:15 AM

  15. My dad just fills this entire list. He never notices what I do right and just reprimands me every time when I make the smallest mistake. He said I was stupid when I didn’t understand something in an equation and it hurt me a lot. It was never physical harm but it damaged my mental wellness. I could never fully trust anyone because I was worried they would hate me if I did something wrong. I was worried how I appeared to other people that I hid myself away when I was sad or angry. I never told anyone what was wrong or why I was unhappy, which would cause me to have sudden anger outbursts and then regret them later. He never listened to me when I tried to tell him I wanted to have a break from my studies. He would say I was lazy and dumb and wouldn’t ever have any sympathy towards me. This led to be the lead to my worst personality trait. Silence. I never said anything. I never did anything. I was scared, I was worried, and I was broken. I wouldn’t say anything to anyone because I was scared. I was angry. I was hurt. By the time I was 12 I had many thoughts about running away and a lot of times I would even pack my things and go out the door. But then I would come back, because I knew I couldn’t survive. By the time I was 13, he didn’t even talk to me on my birthday. I was alone. So please remember, if you’re a parent, make sure your child knows you care. Otherwise, they may end up like me.

    Comment by Lily Mercia — February 15, 2022 @ 9:49 AM

  16. Thank you so, so unbelievably much for this list. It hurts to put the feelings that have come from my childhood into words, but doing so has helped me heal a lot and I appreciate the chance to do so beyond them. Sometimes I wonder if I’m to blame for the events of my childhood, i.e. if there was anything I could’ve done to avoid the instances that have transpired over the course of them, and if my (and I wish I were joking, here, truly) countless, literal sleepless nights filled plump full of what often felt like endless, draining tears even meant anything to anyone or had any valid nature to them at all. I was not magnificent, nor was I a magnificent child to raise, by God I’m sure, but my parents fit every warning label my therapist could’ve put on them, each flashing, red flag society could’ve placed before my eyes, and each of the defining factors on this very list to a terrifying T. I’m now almost three years into therapy with the same therapist, of whom has helped me overcome countless trials while bearing a smile that reassured me I’d be alright, and yet even after providing infinite chances for my parents to prove themselves toxic time and time again, I am left crying and disappointed beyond measure. This, though, was a defining factor for me after years upon years of diagnosed psychological & mental abuse, and my heart surges with hope — an emotion I am undoubtedly, truthfully unused to. These words are all I have to express my thanks for not only this list, but the incredible resources this website has provided as well! I thank you sincerely, and wish anyone who bears these struggles a brighter tomorrow.

    Comment by Preslie Weilert — March 7, 2022 @ 6:42 PM

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