30 Harmful Things Parents Should Stop Teaching Their Kids

Last updated: 04-13-2021

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30 Harmful Things Parents Should Stop Teaching Their Kids

There are so many things we wish our children would grow up knowing. However, separating the wheat from the chaff, the wisdom from the illusions is always a tough thing to do. And some things that our kids end up learning do more harm than good, don’t you think, dear Pandas?

Well, the parents of Reddit have been pitching in and sharing their takes on what harmful things are being taught to children in a viral thread over on r/AskReddit. From advice on how we should always be double-checking information to embracing failure instead of running away from it, some of these tips and tricks are spot-on and help kids grow into healthy, happy adults. (And don’t tell anyone this, but some of us adults could use a handful of these tips, too.)

Have a read through them below and upvote the ones you agree with. Got any additional tips on what things children should and shouldn’t be taught? Be sure to share your thoughts with all the other Readers in the comment section.

I reached out to Lenore Skenazy to learn more about how to overcome the passive mindset that kids are taught to embrace in school and to be actively driven by curiosity into adulthood. Lenore is the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement and the president of Let Grow, a nonprofit organization that fights overprotection, promotes independence, and makes kids ‘future-proof.’ and the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement. You’ll find her insights that she shared with Bored Panda below, dear Readers.

Making children hug or kiss someone (usually a relative) that they are uncomfortable with is not good. The child may just be grumpy and or not wanting to show affection or their warning bell sensors could be going off and they do not know how to communicate that. Plus forcing them to hug/kiss sends mixed messages about personal/physical boundaries and affection itself

Modern schooling, if left to its own devices, generally has the unwanted effect of making kids far more passive than we’d like them to be. School tends to reward following orders and compliance more than independence, active curiosity, and drive. And that’s an issue that can have far-reaching consequences, one of which is the fear of doing what you want or trying new things. “When a seventh-grade teacher friend of mine asked her students—aged 12 and 13—what new things they wanted to do on their own, but were still a little hesitant to try, the responses were rather shocking to me,” Lenore, the founder of Let Grow and the Free-Range Kids movement, shared with Bored Panda. “One kid wanted to walk the dog—but was afraid it would get off the leash. Another said he wanted to go to the store—but he’d never been inside one without his mom, and he was worried about being surrounded by strangers. A few said they wanted to take a bike ride or even climb a tree, but they were afraid of hurting themselves.”

Lenore explained that “our catastrophizing culture” has scared parents so much, they’re anxious about letting their kids do pretty much anything and everything. While there are exceptions, of course, many parents veer sharply towards being overprotective and overbearing because they fear for their munchkins’ safety. Ironically, the result is the opposite of what they want. “The result is not safety, it’s anxiety—kids who absorbed the message that everything is too much for them to handle. When you’re anxious, a simple slip-up doesn’t seem so simple. It seems huge—even life-threatening. How can you avoid those awful threats? That part is simple,” Lenore detailed. “You avoid doing anything.” Doing nothing is exactly what the seventh graders that Lenore mentioned up above ended up doing. That fear spread to other parts of their life in the classroom, from taking tests (“what if they got a bad grade?”) to asking the teacher which side of the page they should write their name on (“they wouldn’t dare just choose their own!”).

Nobody cares about children’s/teens issues. “Well it’s only going to get worse from here”. “You think school is hard? Have you ever paid a f**king bill” “You’re just a kid you can’t feel this way”. It breeds an emotional disconnect from parents and their kids. And makes kids feel alone in their emotional struggles, that nobody cares because they’re not adults and they don’t have “Adult Problems”.

“The teacher told one girl who came to class late and hadn’t had time to get lunch, ‘That’s ok—just go grab something from the cafeteria and come back!’ ‘By myself?’ the girl asked. She was afraid to walk down the halls of her safe school, in a safe neighborhood, in suburban New York. Everyday life is seen as filled with risk.” This passivity isn’t making children any happier, Lenore put it bluntly. Instead, kids are kept deep inside their comfort zones fully believing that it’s all that they can stand and that this is all that life has to offer. Fortunately, the students that Lenore mentioned had an awesome teacher who didn’t want them to go into high school and then adulthood with so much fear in their lives. “She wanted to break the shell growing thicker around them every day. And so she assigned The Let Grow Project—a homework assignment that tells kids to, ‘Go home and do something new, on your own.’ At last, the kids were given a push to get out of their comfort zone—and so were their parents. After all, now school was telling them to let go of their kids and give them a little independence,” Lenore said.

“You can see the results in this 2-minute video. That teacher made them do twenty Let Grow Projects. And the result was kids blossoming like crazy—riding their bikes, joining sports programs, piercing their ears, making dinner, walking to town with their friends, and discovering how great it is to do rather than to hide.” Lenore stressed that any school can do The Let Grow Projectand all of their materials are available absolutely for free. You’ll find the project right here and the Independence Kit right over here.”It works for kids aged 5 to 14 or so. And by the way, if you or your school do The Project, drop me a note—I’d love to hear about it! You can write to me via Info@LetGrow.org,” Lenore added, saying that she wants you, dear Pandas, to reach out to her.

My son’s preschool has a strict “you do not have to play if you don’t want to” policy. No one has to play with anyone they don’t want to play with. They say that no one has to to hug or touch anyone or be touched if they don’t want it. No one has to share their toys or other school supplies if they aren’t done with it. In fact the preschool teacher will go over and referee and say “is Bobby done with the toy car? No? Then Mikey, you have to wait until he is done.” It’s pretty refreshing. I wanted to let you know there are new philosophies and my son’s preschool really strongly teaches body autonomy. Your body is your own and no one can touch it or make you do anything with it without your permission

In an earlier interview with Lenore, the president of Let Grow, and the founder of the Free-Range Kids movement, told Bored Panda about how kids can keep their curiosity burning and their desire to learn bright and well-honed as they grow. "I’ve been wondering this myself: How to stay curious when hit by 'the blahs?' Next to Covid (and in great part thanks to Covid) the blahs are the most catching virus around. You get tired and bored by being tired and bored, talking about being tired and bored, and succumbing to them,” Lenore said about how the pandemic is making all of us feel less energetic, physically and mentally. “Unfortunately, the whole thing is self-reinforcing: A feeling of listlessness leads you to scroll through your social media of choice, which makes you feel more blah, leading you to scroll some more, etc."

That complaining is the same as not being grateful. Can’t count the number of times growing up when adults basically told me to shut up whenever I was complaining about something and that I should be grateful that I was born where I was. Like sure, I’m glad I wasn’t born into some starving African family, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect over here and that we shouldn’t try to improve things here as well.

Lenore put it bluntly: if we want to be curious about life again, if we want to be constantly learning, we have to start off by getting off the couch. “Force yourself out the door. Why? Because beyond your four walls, things are never exactly the same. Weather, animals, people, sounds, smells, clouds—they’re all swirling about." She continued: "Ask yourself to start noticing new things. I did that this morning with a friend. We took a walk around our neighborhood and started looking for interesting details in the homes and buildings we passed. It went from a walk down streets we’d seen a million times to a sort of treasure hunt. And the big thing we were really hunting for? Curiosity! When you’re curious, you’re alive again—noticing, thinking, making connections. You can’t do that if there’s no new information coming in. So your first step is to force yourself out of a rut by leaving the house (harder during the pandemic, but not impossible)."

If you look at the pandemic from a different perspective, it might motivate you to start learning new things. For instance, think about what you’d wish you’d learned or a skill that you’d like to have honed by the end of the pandemic. “Think of something you’d like to be able to say you’ve been working on, especially once life returns to normal: 'Well, I wasted a lot of that free time I had, but at least I started...' Or, 'At least I learned…' For my sister, she’s taking ballet online. For my husband, he’s learning film editing. For me, it’s… oh God! I better come up with something fast! Um…let’s say I will learn how to create a Clubhouse program. Ok?" Lenore quipped that even the best of the best can struggle with this during the lockdowns.

That everybody is a winner. No. Losing and disappointments are part of life and they are integral to your growth both emotionally and socially. We have a lot of people who enter the real world who have been told they are deserving of things just because and cannot take rejections and losses in their personal and professional lives with any grace whatsoever. This is also resulting in mediocrity being accepted as a norm cos nobody wants to call out ineptitude. While the hard work and dedication being put in by people who do end up in good positions are being played down. It's a little harsh but it's true. Kids gotta learn how to lose before they can truly start to win. That's the only way being gracious in victory will ever come about.

Happened to my son in middle school, a kid sucker punched my son. My son then fought back and pinned the kid against the wall ( he has long arms) and punched him a few times. The school called me and my wife and told us our son was suspended. We went to the school and they said even though multiple witnesses as well as the kid said he threw the first punch that the school had a zero tolerance policy so our son would be suspended. We asked what the school believed our son should have done and they said he should just walk away. We told them that he would not be receiving any punishment at home and that the policy was f**ked up.

"When you’re reading an article that seems to be so shocking that you’re amazed this is the first time you’re hearing about it, take a short phrase from the piece and Google it. If something strikes you as fishy, go fishing," she said. "As for whether or not your fishing will lead you to disinformation rather than the truth, try not to fish blindly. If you’re curious about crime stats, for instance, look these up on a government website, not some random blog," she explained. Checking websites like Snopes to see if some shocking stories are real or not is a good move.

Children do learn about sex at a young age, it just isn’t usually in a productive way. I know I did. My own experience: questions like this are why I believe in being infinitely clear with my kids….”you are going to hear total [nonsense] from other kids. If you hear something you don’t understand, come talk to me. You can ask me anything and expect a decent answer.” And I would give examples of the total [nonsense] I had heard as a kid, most of which would result in pregnancy. Son, age 6. Daughter, age 7. Riding home from school: daughter says “Tiffany said she had sex with my brother.” Which left me a grand total of 3 minutes to gather my wits before we got home. OK, do you guys know what sex is? Blank looks. Sex is when you take off all of your clothes and rub privates together. You can make babies that way. Looks of shock and disgust. Do you think your brother had sex with Tiffany? Nooo! I think she was using a really bad way of trying to say she likes him, and maybe she watches the wrong TV shows where if people like each other they always have sex. Were my kids really ready for a sex talk? No, not really. They didn’t care. Did we really need to have one about then? Yep. My job as a parent is to be there to put things that come up in context for them, not run around after them deciding what and when they need to know things. Note: this post originally had 50 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.


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