What Is Toxic Parenting? 8 Signs And Symptoms Of Toxic Parenting You Should Be Aware Of

Toxic parenting can be very harmful for mental and emotional health of children. Here are signs and symptoms you should be aware of.

Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jan 07,2022
Updated at: Jan 07,2022

Toxic relationships are always unhealthy whether be it with your partner or with your children. When there is no mutual understanding between two people and instead of supporting them, you are taking them for granted that is considered wrong. It usually does not happen that parents do not want well for their children, but sometimes they become so self-absorbed that they assume themselves to be always right. That is where all the problems come; it results to changing of behaviour, pattern of speaking and other dysfunctions which might cause toxicity in your relationship with children. Today we will tell you about some signs and symptoms of toxic parenting you must remain aware of.

What is Toxic Parenting?

We spoke to Dr. Tanu Chowdhury, Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor at Healthcare Clinic, Lucknow to know about toxic parenting. She explained that some parents interfere with their children’s emotional feeling and behaviour, which is actually not a healthy way of communicating. This shows that parents are emotionally unstable and are just trying to impose themselves on their children in one way or the other.


Toxic parents lack apology, do not discuss situations with kids, family operates on dysfunctional rules and there could even be abusive and controlling nature. All these are sings of toxic parents that one should be aware of. In most cases, it is done unknowingly, but it could also be result of high emotional or mental health issues.

Signs of Toxic Parenting

Parents need to be caregivers for their children and not be a cause of their emotional resistance. Here are some signs and symptoms of toxic parents that you must remain aware of.

1. Parents having self-centred behaviour

There are many parents who are so self-absorbed that they tend to become very selfish in nature. As a result of this, parents become unavailable for their children and sometimes emotionally detached. This leads to uncaring nature and emotional detached behaviour. They no longer understand what their children want in emotional and physical behaviour and are too self-centred to give importance to their children.

2. Emotionally Reactive in nature

Another sign of toxic parenting is parents becomes very aggressive or reactive when it comes expressing themselves. Expressing your emotional state is good, but as parents you need to understand the situation and then react accordingly. In toxic parenting, it does not happen this way and parents becomes very dramatic, exaggerate their emotions and have very unpredictable nature. Because of this temperament, children hide things from them and lack self-confidence in majority of cases.

Also Read- 7 Tips To Deal With Children Having Defiant Behaviour

3. Controlling behaviour of parents

This is very common sign of toxic parenting. Also there is a difference between strict behaviour and controlling behaviour. In strict behaviour parents understand needs of their children and try to put things in very organised and restricted manner. However in case of controlling behaviour, parents try to spy or always command their children about different things. This makes children lose their own identity and they become robots to follow instructions. This type of behaviour is particularly very wrong and is a major sign of toxic parenting. 

4. Emotional Abuse

One of the worst parts of toxic parenting is emotional abuse, in this there are racist or cruel jokes that make fun of other members of the family. Creating remarks that could be highly embarrassing for children to listen and understand. As parents, they engage in illegal activities of legal troubles that can take a toll or children mental health. Arguments and physical abuses become a part of their language which puts a wrong impression on their kids. Hence emotional abuse is a serious symptom of toxic relationship. 

5. Manipulative behaviour of parents

Having manipulative behaviour means to twist the truth and present it in a way that the other person agrees to your side. This also involves hiding the truth from their children and getting in the phase of denial without actually showing it. Manipulative behaviour is evident when a parents play good cop bad cop for them and portray children as bad cop to achieve their goals. It is done for personal achievements without thinking about their children.

Also Read- 6 Common Behavioral Problems In Children And Their Possible Solutions

6. Unnecessary Arguments in front of children

It is very important while raising your children to understand that engaging in an argument can put an impact on the kids mental and emotional health. Parents who do not think or care about the right time or place to argue can be put in the category of toxic parenting. Screaming and yelling can be terrible signals that something is really wrong in the house and it is a sign of toxic parenting.

7. Never getting satisfied with their children’s achievements

A very important sign of toxic parenting is when parents are never satisfied or show sense of happiness for their kids. Parents who always have the tendency of finding faults and pointing out the negatives in every activity can be regarded as toxic parents. This is now how parents should be, you need to be encouraging for your children’s achievements and help them realise importance of what they have achieved. This makes them value it and work harder next time. 

8. Keeping Secrets from Children

Toxic parents refuse to involve their kids in important matters that should need their opinion or consent as well. They feel that they have all the rights to take decision and what they have done is absolutely correct for everyone. Also they assume that keeping secrets about traumatic situations like abuse or risks can be beneficial for their family. Hence they do not talk about anything to their children and just blame it once it is done.

Another side of this could probably be when they try to neglect their importance as kids. Toxic parents may not understand the boundaries that they need to keep with their children. Hence it results to dysfunctional families and exposure of children’s mental and physical health.

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