Every day, it seems like there’s a brand-new parenting study or news article with expert tips for raising great kids. You’ve read so many at this point that you don’t know what to believe. You think you’re doing a pretty good job, but then a new parenting book comes along and throws your entire mama world into chaos. Before you start questioning everything and focusing on how you’re parenting all wrong, let’s get one thing straight: You’re not a failure — not even a little bit. Read on for the five parenting myths you should stop believing once and for all.

1. Never put your needs first. You’re 100 percent hopelessly devoted to your kid. She’s the apple of your eye, your pride, your joy, and the one person you would do absolutely anything for. But being all about your child doesn’t have to mean that you always put her needs first. (Of course, there are plenty of times when this is a must, like when she’s sick or hungry.) There’s a reason the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re of no use to anyone, including your child. Caring for your kid — that’s a yes. Ignoring your needs now that you’re a mom — that’s a myth you need to put to rest.

2. Kids always need choices. Giving your child a few choices can really pay off: It can reduce temper tantrums, build critical-thinking skills, and make her feel like she’s more in control. But it’s not always your best option. Let’s say it’s the middle of the winter, and your preschooler refuses to put her coat on before exiting the grocery store. You could give her the choice to wear it or not, but it’s way too cold for that. (Plus, she’ll probably spend 10 minutes blocking the store’s exit as she debates wearing, and not wearing, the coat.) Seriously, put on your dictator hat and tell (not ask) her to wear the coat. It’s for her own good. You’re the parent, and it’s your job to protect your child.

3. Bribery is always a bad idea. If you’re a fan of RHONY, you probably remember some candy-coated bribery from last season. If not, one of the housewives admitted that bribing her little ones with Sour Patch Kids totally worked for her. Before you start judging and saying, “I’m a better mom than that,” think about it. Maybe you should carry around a pocketful of gummies in the event you need your child to do what you ask. This tactic works, but it can backfire. If you bribe your child every time she throws a fit, she’s going to expect a reward. An occasional peace offering may hold your child’s attention long enough to calm the situation.

4. If you pick up your crying baby, you’re spoiling her. Your MIL is a total fan of this one. Your newborn is wailing away, and you rush to her side. In some circles, this is a major parenting no-no. According to the cry-it-out theory, you should leave your baby where she is, and she’ll learn to self-soothe. Oh, and if you don’t, you’re spoiling her. This is a total myth. You can’t spoil a newborn. You’re not giving in when you pick up your crying three-week-old. You’re helping her. As your baby gets older, you can take more time before running to her cry. Until then, go ahead and pick her up. There’s no proof that doing so will turn her into a spoiled brat later in life.

5. You can make your kid a genius. Oh, the flash cards. You have stacks on stacks on stacks of them. Why? Well, because someone told you that it’s entirely possible for parents to make their kids smarter by throwing an educational arsenal at them. So, you enroll your baby in infant art classes, take your toddler to early-math tutoring, and pick out at least five different languages for your preschooler to learn. Providing your child with plenty of learning opps isn’t a bad thing — but thinking they’ll put her on the road to Harvard just isn’t realistic. Sometimes parents need to let their kids be kids. That may mean scaling back on the educational push and giving playtime a chance.

What parenting myth drives you batty? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)