Parents Share The Life Lessons They Taught Their Kids That Completely Backfired
Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. No matter how many handbooks you read or fellow parents you beg for advice, every child has a mind and personality of their own. What works for one kid may not work for the next, and not all of them will appreciate what you attempt to teach them.
Sometimes, the advice, punishments, or lessons you give your kid can backfire. Still, most parents probably haven’t had to deal with failed cases as bad as these. Have you ever taught your kid about calling the police in the event of a crime… only for them to call 9-1-1 on the Wiggles? Have you ever introduced your kid to Santa… and heard them announce to his entire Kindergarten class that Santa is deceased? These distressed moms and dads took to the internet to share the funny tales of when their kids took the life lessons they were taught and went in a totally opposite direction!
#1 Oh Right, There Are Two Of Them
One of my five-year-old twins was still having occasional accidents because she would get so caught up in playing that she just wouldn’t make her way to the washroom. She would just go #1 in her pants. To combat this, we started giving her a special prize of some variety when she didn’t have an accident. This, in turn, caused her twin sister to start having accidents so she could get prizes for not having accidents. We had to rethink our methods.
#2 It Might Be Time To Read Up On Sociopaths…
I read a book that suggested parents should ask their kids what the appropriate punishment should be in the event that they misbehaved. My six-year-old son pinched his brother, so we asked him what the appropriate punishment should be. He said, “Pluck out my eyeballs and throw me over a cliff?” We didn’t follow through. And stopped reading parenting books.
#3 You Can’t Deny His Logic
My kids were begging for a pet. They never cleaned up after themselves, so it was highly unlikely that they would be responsible enough to clean up after a pet. But I made a deal with them — if they could keep their rooms clean for six months without me telling them, they could get a pet.
The youngest child proceeded to clean his room, then moved his clothes and a sleeping bag into the hallway. He locked his door and started sleeping outside his room. Technically, his room stayed clean for six months, so we were left with no choice but to honor our agreement.
#4 What Every Woman Loves To Hear
I taught my daughter to always compliment people who insulted her. We were in a Burlington Coat Factory in Michigan when my mother was shopping for a bathing suit. There were very few to choose from, so she was complaining. My kid was four at the time.
A woman trying on pants said something rude to my mom and my daughter saw that my mother became agitated. She squeezed out behind me and told the woman, “Your teeth are such a pretty yellow!”
#5 Well, You’ll Make A Great Cop
My parents taught me to call 9-1-1 whenever I saw somebody doing something illegal. I called the cops while watching the Wiggles movie when I was five because I saw a clown steal a cake.
Luckily, the 9-1-1 operator realized I was young and asked to talk to my mom before sending out cops.
#6 Actually, That Isn’t How It Works
When my son was about three or four, he asked about how babies are born. I sat him down and gave him a very simple, age-appropriate explanation.
He just looked at me and shook his head. “No,” he said very calmly, in an I-can’t-believe-you-think-that’s-how-it-works tone of voice.
I was prepared for difficult questions but also completely unprepared for him to not believe me when I told him the truth. I just sat there not knowing what to do while he went back to playing Legos.
#7 What Goes Up Must Come Down
I taught my young toddler son how to go up the stairs. I did not realize that going downstairs is, in fact, a completely different, and far more dangerous, skill. Lucky for us, the kid seems to have finally grasped the finer points of head protection.
#8 They Can’t Pay You For Everything, Guys
I tried to get my kids to quote chores and bid against one another. It was supposed to teach them about working for their money and not expecting handouts like an allowance.
It seemed good in theory, but now every time I order them to do something, they ask me, “How much will you pay me?”
#9 God, Don’t Let It Go To Your Head
Playing carnival games is a waste of money. My son wanted to spend $20 he earned from his allowance to win a Pikachu stuffed toy. We told him he would be wasting his money and that he would not win. He spent $15 and won the biggest prize.
#10 The Level Of Petty We Should All Aspire For
I was playing tic-tac-toe with my youngest. She covered up the column she wanted to use to win. When I told her that cheating isn’t fair, she reminded me, “Life isn’t fair, momma.”
#11 Sweetheart, He’s Our Child, Not Yours
Due to a last-minute adoption, my wife and I went from one kid to two kids very quickly. They are close in age (about 18 months apart) so we tried reading books about how to prevent sibling rivalry. One of the books said to teach the kids that they are a team. That’s what we did.
It resulted in my daughter getting angry with me any time I would discipline her brother. She believed that she should be disciplined for his bad behavior along with him since they were a team. You have to stand up for your teammate, after all.
That’s really the only time she would ever throw a full-blown screaming tantrum. I would have to deal with my son crying because he was being disciplined and my daughter crying because her brother was being disciplined.
#12 Stick To Dr. Suess Books, Kiddos
I taught them to read early. My son could read by the time he was four years old, and my daughter by the time she was three. This led to some unwanted conversations as they read things over our shoulders when we weren’t expecting it. Or even just signs on the road. “You’re going to fast, Daddy. It says 55 mph and you’re going 70.”
#13 Dang, You Almost Had Him…
When my older son was about three or four years old, we realized he was starting to act very spoiled and materialistic. We always tried to make him see how lucky he already had it, but he constantly begged us for every toy, candy, and treat he saw.
I came across a great photo spread by a photographer who traveled around the world snapping photos of different children with their most prized possessions. Of course, the kids in the US, Canada, and Europe were mostly photographed in rooms filled with stuff. But there were also photos of children from impoverished nations who were featured with single possessions.
I thought I could go through the photos with him and explain how the kids with rooms like his were beyond lucky. Then, I could show him the other photos and he would finally understand that there are so many other children in the world with far less than he had.
We looked through the photos and talked about each one. We finally got to one with a little boy standing on his cot with his one possession: a well-loved, dingy-looking stuffed monkey. My son looked at it for a long time. I could see his wheels spinning. “Success!” I thought. After a long bit of silence, he finally looked up at me, gave me a sweet smile and said, “I want that monkey.”
#14 Kid, You’re Going On The Naughty List
My son asked me about Santa Claus. Because of circumstances with my child’s father, I have a strict personal policy of never lying to my child. So, I answered his questions directly and told him the history behind the Santa Claus tradition. He was riveted. I walked away feeling good about the conversation.
His teacher pulled me aside after school. He had stood up in the middle of class and announced to the whole room that Santa Claus was dead.
#15 Actually, This Kid Is Pretty Smart
I told him he could not bring his food downstairs. If he wanted food, he had to eat at the table. When our second kid came, I would bring his bottle and snacks downstairs so he could eat solid foods that helped his teething while we played. My older kid flipped out because of the double standard.
When I said it was okay for his brother to eat downstairs because he was just a baby, he would try to give his brother snacks that he liked so he could eat them downstairs too.
One time, I saw him sitting in his play tent eating animal crackers and giving his brother one. They were hiding from me because he knew what he was doing was technically wrong.
#16 I Mean, You Gave Her The Choice
My two-year-old refused to wear her hat. It was hot. I told her if she didn’t put her hat on she would have to wait in the car. She started walking away from me. I asked her, “Where are you going?”
“Car,” she said.
#17 We’re In This Thing Together, Dad!
When my daughter was ten years old, she wanted to try out for a community theater version of Beauty and the Beast. She got nervous and almost backed out because she wasn’t sure if she would make the cut.
My husband, who did some acting in high school, stepped in and said that he would also audition, even though he knew he was never going to make it. He wanted to demonstrate to her that it was okay to audition for something, even if you might not get chosen for it.
She ended up getting the part of Chip. My husband got the part of Maurice, Belle’s father. He didn’t even want to be in a play.
#18 He Met His Goal, Man, What’s Left To Do?
I wanted to teach my son the value of money because he kept wanting to buy Robux. He really wanted to buy some skin, so I created a chore chart and gave each chore a value. We established a schedule and everything. It was working out majestically — every day without asking, he was doing dishes, cleaning his room, picking up the dog poop—It was epic.
Then, one day, I came home and nothing had been done. I asked him, “Hey man, what’s up with the dishes? Oh, and go pick up the dog poop too.” He simply replied, “Nah.” Fighting back rage, I said, “Excuse me?” He said he made enough money over the last few days and was able to afford the skin he wanted. He said, “I’m good now.”
It was hard to argue.
#19 You May Be Too Good Of A Teacher
My mother is an elementary school teacher. One time, she taught her class to turn around and run back the other way if a car ever followed them. She told them that it would take longer for the car to turn around to catch up, giving them a better chance of escaping.
A few days later, one of her students ran away from school, so she got in her car and drove around looking for him. She caught up to him and called out his name from the window, but he just looked at her, gave her a grin, and ran back the other way.
She was cursing herself as she tried to turn the car around to follow.
#20 Well, I Guess It’s All Terrible For You
I used to let my son have Five Alive juice boxes because it was only a small amount and it at least had some vitamin C in it.
At the grocery store one day, he started asking for Kool-Aid and I said no because it’s just full of sugar. I picked up the Kool-Aid and Five Alive to show him the nutritional data to prove my point… It turned out, they have the same amount of vitamin C but the Kool-Aid has far less sugar.
Now he gets the Kool-Aid.
#21 At Least He Made Bank In The Process…
I always tell my children that the lottery is a tax on people that are bad at math. I let my eight-year-old spend a few hard-earned dollars on a Powerball ticket to prove it and he won $100.
#22 Oh, So He’ll Never Stop Giving You Heart Attacks
My youngest boy would never listen, and he was always totally fearless. Every time we told him, “Don’t do that, you’re going to get hurt,” he would do it and then not get hurt.
I remember starting to hope that he would fall and break an arm or something just so he could learn a lesson, which is weird for a parent to say. But he never got anything worse than a small scrape or cut that could be cleaned and covered in five minutes.
Now he’s a stuntman for movies. I can’t say I’m surprised.
#23 Congrats, Your Kid Has Morals! Now About That Potty Mouth…
We taught our kids that littering isn’t nice. We also let some curse words fly in front of them (we’re only human, after all).
We were at our city’s 4th of July celebration. Our eldest was four years old at the time. We were walking around when someone suddenly tossed their trash on the ground. Our kid lept into action, picked up the trash and yelled, “Hey jerk, you dropped this,” while tapping them on the butt.
#24 You’ve Got To Wrap That Kid In Bubble Wrap
My son is nearly two. We’ve taught him not to touch certain items that weren’t baby-proofed.
He completely understands that “don’t touch” means he cannot put any part of his body on the object. No hands, no feet.
So now, we have to watch him like a hawk because throwing a toy car at the glass isn’t “touching”. Neither is whacking a window with a clothes hanger or shoving an end table into the lamp.
#25 Yeah, That’s A Major Facepalm Moment
My niece was taught that no one can ever force her into giving hugs, etc. It’s her body, and she has the right to say no.
Well, she tries to use that as an excuse to misbehave every now and then. Like, one time, her dad told her she couldn’t play in a certain area because there wasn’t enough room. She claimed that her body had the right to be there. Her body, her right. All three of us facepalmed at that moment.
#26 So, They Might Be Too Empowered
I taught them to stand up for what they believe in…
All of a sudden, they believed veggies were the devil and bedtimes should be abolished.
#27 I Didn’t Mean For This To Happen…
My daughter used to always unbuckle her seatbelt to reach for things in the car, then not put it back on. We had a minivan at the time so she was always moving around, saying, “I just need my backpack” or whatever. We were always telling her to sit down and get her seatbelt back on.
I was home one night when she burst through the door, crying. There was blood on her face and my husband followed closely behind her, shirtless. He looked very sheepish. I asked what in the world happened to them, thinking they had been in an accident.
My husband said that he tried to show her what could happen if she wasn’t buckled in. He slammed on his brakes while the car was in motion, causing her to propel forward. Her face hit the seat adjustment on the back, bloodying her nose. He took his shirt off to help her stop the blood. Not sure if that helped her learn a lesson, but the car-roaming seemed to subside and she’s a 19-year-old driver now who always wears her seatbelt.
#28 Man, Are They Going To LOVE Gambling
We spend a weekend every year at a resort hotel with a water park. They also have an arcade. We load up a few gaming cards with credits and let our two daughters loose. Of course, the arcade has a number of claw games. You know the ones. Maneuver a mechanical claw over the prize you want, drop the claw perfectly, then watch in despair as the bauble drops out of the claw before making it to the receptacle.
I tried to explain to our daughters that those games were rigged. It had nothing to do with how well you aimed and dropped the claw. The claw itself was motorized and programmed such that it rarely grasped strongly enough to win the prize.
During our last trip, they managed to win four bouncy balls and a couple of stuffies. My daughters are forever convinced that claw games are the best. I shudder to think what will happen when they’re old enough to discover real gambling.
#29 Yes, I Love Feeling Awful About Myself, Thanks Sweetie
When my daughter was about five, she asked why we need the rain. I explained to her that we need it to grow the plants that we eat. She then asked why we need veggies and I used this as an opportunity to get her to eat her veggies. I told her that if she wanted to grow up at all, she needed to eat lots of veggies. My daughter has requested cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, or any crunchy type of veggie as her snack since then. It’s pretty awesome.
But now, I can’t enjoy a bag of chips at home anymore. She’d walk in on me eating them, shake her head and tell me to go easy because I’m “done growing up.”
#30 That’s One Way To Get Rid Of Things…
I told my children repeatedly that if I found any more junk on their bedroom floor, I would donate it to the thrift store. I always gave them 15 minutes to clean everything off the floor.
One time, I came back to find everything picked up, except they also went through the kitchen cupboards and put every food they didn’t like in a nice neat pile right in the middle of the floor.
#31 Okay, So, This Is A Little Harsh…
My mother tried to teach temper tantrums out of me as a child. Once, in a desperate attempt, she said under her breath to me in public, “Get up, or I’ll sell you in the parking lot.” I don’t hold her accountable for this reaction, I was a terrible child. She was tired and had two small children.
However, on a different day and another meltdown later, she was trying to get me to act right. I looked dead into her eyes in front of everyone and screamed: “Why don’t you just sell me in the parking lot?”
#32 Come On, This Is Pretty Cute
When my daughter was young, I tried to teach her the value of money by giving her an allowance. She had a few tasks to do around the house on the weekends and if she finished before we went out, I’d give her $5. I explained that by helping out with chores, she could earn money to spend on whatever she wanted.
She happily accepted and stashed her money in her room. I thought nothing of it. Later that evening, before I tucked her into bed, she went to her money jar, pulled out $2 and handed it to me. She explained that she was giving it to me for being a good daddy.
#33 Baby See, Baby Do
I saw a clip on the local news about a toddler saving her mom’s life by calling 9-1-1 when she collapsed. I figured it was a good idea to teach my toddler 9-1-1. I had two cops at my door five minutes later.
#34 That Sounds Worse For You Than Her…
It was the day after Halloween. I was trying to get my daughter to eat a carrot. She was giving me a lot of trouble, so I threatened that if she didn’t eat the carrot I would throw out all of her Halloween candy. I was sure that would motivate her to eat the carrot.
I didn’t realize at the time how stubborn she could be. She sat there for two hours refusing to eat the carrot. Not wanting to back down, I threw her candy away in front of her. I felt so bad about it. I learned to be very careful when coming up with potential consequences.
#35 Well, We Can’t All Be Geniuses, Pal
My five-year-old was so excited about kindergarten. We told him he was going to learn all sorts of interesting things.
On his first day, he went to meet his kindergarten teacher. He started asking a million questions, but one the stood out was: “How is the electricity going through this building and getting to each classroom? I watch science documentaries and I’m interested in quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement. Can you teach me about the theory behind quantum mechanics? Can we build nanobots and figure out how to make us live forever?”
Today, he remains extremely bored in class and he absolutely hates it. He gets in trouble almost daily now. He’s not being taught about how to build robots, so he just lies on the carpet, refusing to do anything. We are probably going to homeschool soon.
#36 Hey, I Like What You’ve Done With The Place
I got frustrated with my nine-year-old son. He was being very ungrateful for everything. In one of my more brilliant eureka moments, I decided that I would have him pack everything in his room and put it in the garage. If he could show gratefulness, he would get one box back per week. I also took all his furniture out. He had his clothes on the floor, as well as a single mattress. The room was bare other than that. This was a brilliant plan. This will show him!
After three weeks, there was no change in him and he had not asked for anything back. I finally asked him what was up. He said that he really liked the room being open and did not miss anything he had. He’s 19 now and has a bed, a shelf, and a chair. Nothing else. He truly likes the minimalist lifestyle. No life lesson learned.
#37 I Want To Be An Arsonist For Christmas!
I told my kids that if they were bad, they would get coal in their stockings on Christmas. “What’s coal?” They asked. Well, it is a rock that you can light on fire. They now want coal.
#38 Save The Planet! But Also…Germs
One day at 7-11, my four-year-old daughter and I witnessed a guy scratching off a lotto ticket in his car. Disheartened from not winning, he threw the lottery ticket out of his window and onto the ground. There were quite a few people around and in their cars as well. To teach my daughter a lesson about littering, I walked over to the lottery ticket and picked it up while shame-glaring at the dude in his car.
My daughter asked me why I did that. I said, extra loud so he could hear, “Because littering is bad and we have to protect the planet.” I walked over to the trash can to throw away the ticket and when I turned around, my daughter had a handful of used tissue paper. I was horrified and, evidently, it was showing on my face. A lady in her car witnessed the whole thing and was laughing so hard. She rolled down her window and yelled, “That backfired!” I had to take all that used tissue paper from my daughter and throw them away. She could tell something was up and I could tell she was confused. That’s what I get for being self-righteous.
#39 Man, He’ll Be A Great Parent
When I was pregnant with my third child, my oldest son was old enough to go to one of those cute “big sibling” classes at the Women’s Hospital. They got to look through the nursery window at the newborns. They even used dolls to practice feeding the baby and changing diapers.
I took him home and left him with his dad so I could do some shopping in peace. My husband was mowing while our toddler (the middle child) napped. He turned off the mower and heard the toddler screaming his head off. When he checked on him, he found that the eldest had decided to change his little brother’s diaper. He took his brother out of the crib, waking him from a much-needed nap, and proceeded to use an entire box of baby wipes and a full bottle of baby powder. Powder and wipes were absolutely everywhere.
#40 Oh, You Want To Keep Secrets? Well, Guess What?
My wife and I started using code words in front of the children, mainly if we wanted to discuss plans without getting the kids too excited and getting their hopes up. For example, we would say “GP” instead of the playground, “cylindrical slice of cow place” instead of McDonald’s, and “scaffolding-based recreation area” instead of the jungle gym.
They have caught onto this and now use code words amongst themselves which we’re struggling to figure out.
#41 Nah, I Think I’ll Pass, Thanks Though
I taught my four-year-old that not to say that a certain food is gross if she hasn’t tried it. Apparently, I’m not allowed to criticize her booger-eating until I try it.
#42 Never Too Early For An Existential Crisis
I gave my five-year-old a quick introduction to climate changes. Now, he’s convinced that he’s going to “die soon.” Nothing I can say is working to make him forget our impending doom!
#43 Wonder Who Got To Clean It Up…
My dad tried to force us to finish our plates during meals. My mom was never a fan of that lesson, but my dad was stubborn so she just let it go.
One day, my brother had two or three bites of food left on his plate, but it was very clear that he was absolutely full and couldn’t eat another bite. Dad wasn’t having it and insisted he could not leave the table until all the food on his plate was gone. My brother realized there was no changing dad’s mind, so he forced himself to finish the last few bites.
Almost immediately after, he proceeded to vomit on the table and on our dad. He stopped enforcing the rule after that.
#44 Kid, We Are The Police
When I was about two years old, my family was at a game in Angel’s stadium. My mother went to the restroom and left me and my siblings with my dad. While he was busy watching, I wandered off. When they eventually found me, I was halfway around the stadium.
A crowd had gathered to watch as a police officer held me out at arm’s length while I screamed, “Call the police! This man is not my daddy!” over and over again. My parents had taught me “stranger danger” but forgot to teach me what the police looked like.
#45 That’s Not Going To Happen To Me…Right?
We live across from a cemetery. When my eldest was around five, she had a lot of questions regarding funerals. We bought her an illustrated dinosaur book that explained death to kids in a secular way.
Halfway through the book, she had a complete meltdown and became terrified of dying. My intent was to teach her about the reality of death at a young age so that she would have a healthy view of life and death. She is fine now, but she did have a lot of death anxiety for a couple of months.