While no one is the perfect parent, there are certain parenting behaviors that can have serious negative effects on children. From mirroring what they see at home to starting out well behind their peers, these kids are at a disadvantage.
Seven Ways Bad Parenting Can Affect Children
Higher Risk for Psychological Disorders
Children who are raised in families dealing with abuse are far more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, according to a study published in the journal Child Development. Although no one psychological disorder stood out as particularly prevalent, these children were at greater risk for disorders of all types. In addition, the study found that family relationships, including relationships between siblings, were not as warm and loving as they are in other families.
Additionally, children who were directly abused themselves were far more likely than their peers to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. This was particularly true for sexual abuse, but it is also a concern for other forms of child abuse.
Poor Performance in School
Neglecting a child, or failing to meet his or her basic human needs, can a have a dramatic effect on school performance, according to a study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. The study found that early neglect in particular was very harmful to children, preventing them from forming social relationships at school and from learning at the same rate as their peers. The study found that neglect was just as harmful in terms of school performance as direct abuse.
In addition, a study published in the journal Demography found that frequently moving and uprooting a child resulted in poor performance in school. While frequent moves aren't always a factor parents can control, it's important to consider the effect on the child before making several moves.
Depression and Low Self-Esteem
According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, parenting style can have a direct effect on a child's self-esteem and vulnerability to depression. The study found that if parents are extremely controlling, children are a greater risk for depression and don't see themselves as positively.
Another study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that children who were the victims of sexual abuse at home had much lower self-esteem than their peers. They also showed more signs of depression and had negative views about their family relationships.
Violence and Behavior Problems
Exposing children to a community where there is significant violence can result in internalized violence and behavior problems in kids, according to a study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. The study also found that if children were victims of community violence or violence at home, they were more likely to exhibit violent behavior in the preschool setting.
A study published in the Journal of Family Violence found that children who both witnessed and experienced domestic abuse were far more likely to suffer from internalized anger and behavior problems than their peers. This can lead to a "cycle of abuse," in which children grow up to abuse others in the same way they were abused.
Failure to Thrive
When children have a failure to thrive in infancy and early childhood, they typically show slower than normal growth, delayed mental development, and signs of malnutrition. An article published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that failure to thrive was directly related to parental neglect. Children were not receiving adequate nutrition to allow them to grow at the same rate as peers.
Another cause of failure to thrive can be medical child abuse, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Medical child abuse involves parents subjecting kids to unnecessary medical procedures and treatments. The study found that failure to thrive could be a sign that this type of abuse is happening.
Problems with the Law
A study published in the International Journal of Child, Youth, & Family Studies found that children who were neglected by their parents were more likely to be prosecuted for juvenile delinquency. The study proposed additional research into the exact relationship between parental neglect and juvenile delinquency.
Another study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences & the Law found that if mothers have been juvenile delinquents, they were far more likely to give birth to children who had antisocial behaviors and a tendency toward problems with the law themselves. The study proposed that this could also be related to parental substance abuse.
Poor Social Adjustment
According to a study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, boys who had parents who exhibited violent behavior were likely to have problems adjusting socially in the school setting. Although the boys had not been directly abused themselves, they exhibited many of the same signs of social maladjustment as children who are victims of abuse.
Another study published in Merrill-Palmer Quarterly found that children who had hostile and controlling parents were more likely to be socially distressed and disliked by peers.
If You Suspect Bad Parenting
There's no denying that bad parenting practices, such as neglect, abuse, and exposing children to violence can affect a child's behavior and development. In many cases, getting help can reduce some of these effects. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, contact the department of Child Protective Services in your state.