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How Bad Are these Common Parenting Mistakes? A Doctor Explains

by Lisa Hirsch Lozano 3:07 PM, March 10, 2017

Aired March 13, 2017

Parenting -- it’s not easy. All parents make mistakes (let’s be honest -- probably multiple times per day) but how bad are they, really? Our audience members get a chance to quiz pediatrician Dr. Deborah Gilboa to find out.

How bad is it to swear in front of your kids?

The doctor’s verdict: Not so bad

“What we want is that our kids won’t swear in front of people who will judge them,” Dr. Gilboa says. “The lesson we have to teach them is when can you use those words.” Bottom line -- if you’re going to drop four-letter-words around your kids, just make sure they know when it’s okay (and not okay) to repeat them.

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How bad is it to give a toddler a sip of coffee or diet soda?

The doctor’s verdict: Bad

Just a sip seems pretty innocuous, right? But the doctor says, “We need practice as parents saying no. Because [your child] wants to, is not a good enough reason.”

“Younger kids should not be drinking” caffeine and diet sodas, the doctor says. She recommends telling the kiddo that it’s only for adults, or not drinking it around them.

How bad is it to let your kids skip brushing their teeth in the morning?

The doctor’s verdict: Bad

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“Tooth decay is actually the most common disease of childhood,” Dr. Gilboa says. It’s important to get that teeth brushing in, but she recommends making it fun by playing music. For older kids, she says it’s absolutely okay to ask them for a breath test to make sure they brushed their teeth.

How bad is it to be naked in front of your kids?

The doctor’s verdict: It depends

Dr. Gilboa stresses that it’s all about respect and what you and your child feel comfortable with. “It’s bad if it makes you or your child uncomfortable, and if it makes neither of you uncomfortable, not so bad,” she explains.

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How bad is it to make empty threats?

The doctor’s verdict: Bad

Making empty threats erodes trust, Dr. Gilboa explains. “I need your daughter to trust you, to know that if you say you’re going to do something, because what she’s doing isn’t acceptable, you mean it.”

The ramifications will be long-lasting, she says, “If you say you’re going to do something to help her or save her, when she’s 15 and she’s at a party and she doesn’t have a safe ride home, I want her to know that she can trust you.”

The solution, according to the doctor? “Start building your credibility now. Come up with a threat that you can actually carry out,” she says.

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