11 Ways to Ruin Your Kids’ Lives

11 Ways to Ruin Your Kids' Lives

Do you love your kids? Do you want them to be happy, healthy, and successful? Of course, you do! Unfortunately, many parents who are trying to do their best inadvertently do things that mess up their children’s lives. Then they wonder why their kids are struggling with mental health issues and aren’t reaching their potential.

Here are 11 ways you might be ruining your kids’ lives.

1. Feed your child the standard American diet (SAD).

The human brain uses 20-30% of the calories you consume. If you feed your child a fast food diet, they’re going to have a fast food mind, which is associated with ADD/ADHD, depression, and dementia later in life. Focus on feeding your child brain-healthy foods so they are able to have optimal brain development and function.

2. Routinely let your kids stay up too late.

Did you know that research shows that teenagers who sleep just one hour less than their peers have overall lower blood flow to their brains and a higher incidence of depression and suicide? Children need much more sleep than most parents realize for optimal brain development and function. For example, the growth hormone actually works more effectively while your child is sleeping. It is essential that you make sleep a priority for your child and stick to a regular sleep schedule.

3. Be a lousy model.

If your motto is, “Do as I say, not as I do,” you are setting yourself up for frustration. If you lie, cheat, are rude or disrespectful, eat unhealthily, and never address your own health, your child is going to pick up what you do. So, model how you want your child to be.

4. Let your child engage in activities that increase the risk of head trauma.

Heading soccer balls, playing tackle football, or even falling off a bike without wearing a helmet can have devastating consequences for your child’s life. Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are associated with increased risk of depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, substance abuse, school problems, and more. The number of concussions in children is rising. From 2010 to 2015, concussion diagnoses in young people aged 10-19 skyrocketed 71%.

5. Diminish the other parent.

While it can be tempting, it is crucial that you not criticize, put down, or complain about your child’s other parent to your child. This not only undermines the effectiveness of the other parent, but it also decreases your child’s self-esteem. Your child is a product of both parents, and by saying negative things about the other parent, you are really saying negative things about your child as well.

6. Give in to tantrums or other bad behaviors.

By giving in to tantrums, even once, you will teach them what you will tolerate. They will then learn the lesson that misbehaving works to get them what they want. They need to know that they are not able to manipulate you with their behavior.

7. Never get to know your child’s friends.

During adolescence, the most influential people in your teen’s life are the friends they spend the most time with—not you. That is why you want to know the values of the people they are hanging out with. If you are unhappy with what you discover, then get your child involved with the activities of kids who have values that you appreciate.

8. Tell your kids how to think.

One of the best sayings related to parenting is, “Be curious, not furious.” Be a good coach rather than a dictator. If a child is unable to have the freedom to explore different ways of thinking and seeing the world and instead feels micromanaged, they are much more likely to rebel and have a conflicted relationship with you.

9. Praise your child for being smart.

If you do this and they end up failing to learn something (which they likely will at some point in their lives), then they will tell themselves that they really aren’t smart and become more likely to give up. Instead, point out how hard they work and praise their effort. That way, when something in their life is hard, they will persevere and work harder because their self-esteem comes from hard work, not innate smarts.

10. Forget what it’s like to be a child or teen.

Remember what it was like for you when you were a child or a teen. Remember the challenges and struggles you had. This will give you much more empathy for your child. You’ll end up being more helpful to them than if you approach their lives from an adult perspective.

11. Hope they “outgrow” mental health challenges.

Does your child have trouble with focus and attention? Do they feel anxious or depressed? Do they have conduct or behavior problems? Putting your head in the sand and hoping it just goes away can set your child up for a lifetime of struggles. It takes an average of 11 years from the time kids develop mental health symptoms before they get an evaluation. That’s a lot of unnecessary suffering.

At Amen Clinics, we have treated thousands of children and teens for ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, school problems, addictions, head injuries, and more. We use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose and treat young people. This helps our Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists identify any dysfunction or damage in the brain, as well as any co-existing conditions, that need to be addressed. Based on this information, we are better able to personalize treatment for your child using the least toxic, most effective solutions for a better outcome.

If you want to help your child live their best life, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.


  1. I appreciate your 11 ways to ruin your child’s life. I could not agree more.
    I am wondering why you do not include a potential diagnosis of complex trauma?

    The brain health is important and so is the body where residual trauma gets stored.

    I believe that mainstream psychiatry often misses the trauma thread of the reason
    for a symptom display? I see you list the major psychiatric diagnoses, but misdiagnosis
    occurs when there is lack of understanding of how to assess for psychological child abuse as a diagnosis.

    Do you assess for unresolved traumatic grief, pathogenic parenting, reverse hierarchy,
    cross generational coalitions and shared persecutory delusions?


    Nora Renzulli

    Comment by Nora Renzulli — March 6, 2020 @ 5:29 AM

  2. Nora – You are obviously a professional in the field (I am not). I am just curious – how anyone would diagnose complex trauma…with all the various factors you listed? It is an area of concern as well and curiosity. I would be fascinated to learn of practitioners who do…or if the Amen Clinic does. Thanks for any lead. We live in Kansas 🙂

    Comment by MCKHall — March 13, 2020 @ 9:02 PM

  3. Hi,
    I really appreciate looking at you website and learning all that I can about ADHD, dyslexia, etc… Most everything that you talk about I have implemented permanently, tried temporarily, investigated or researched at one point or another. However, to be fair parents of children that have learning disabilities or developmental disabilities work two times harder than a parent with a “normally” developed child. So to start an article by telling readers that we are “ruining” our children’s lives if we do any of these items is very serious statement to me. It is almost ADHD-like in that it is taking things to the extreme. We are all doing our best and for such a well respected organization to determine that a parent is ruining a child’s life if we don’t know their friends well enough or they aren’t eating enough vegetables is acting (with power) in an irresponsible way.

    Comment by Coreen Serfilippi — April 3, 2020 @ 11:14 AM

  4. yes thank you im going to do all that this says truely thank you!!!!!!!

    Comment by tyler — November 28, 2023 @ 10:29 AM

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