10 Things a Child Should Never Hear from Their Parents
Parents will do more harm than good if children hear these words from the ones who should be encouraging to them. A top 10 list of what not to say to your child includes:
ONE – Anything that induces guilt over the parent’s mental well-being. For example, don’t say, “You’re driving me mad.” Or “You make me crazy.” While this may sound like a good comeback in the heat of the moment, a child need not hear these words from their parent. Guilt gives a negative impact over what the child may understand what they are doing to their parent. Accusing a child of making you crazy could possibly give the child low self-esteem.
TWO – “Are you crazy?” Now it’s okay to say this if the child knows you are joking, if it’s said in a relaxed atmosphere. But if you are angry with your child and you yell this to them, you will tear down their self-confidence. Instead of yelling flippant words, go to the root of the matter and speak constructive criticism instead of making them think you consider them crazy.
THREE- Empty threats. We’ve all either given empty threats or listened to others threaten with empty words – “You better do…. or else.” And then who knows the “else” may mean. This is an empty threat and your child will feel intimidated by you or they won’t believe you when you administer discipline. “You better clean your room or else you will be grounded from the game system for a week.” Always follow through with words that make sense.
FOUR- Empty praise. Sure, any kind of praise sounds good to say, “Good job.” But if you don’t follow through with what that job is you are making empty praise that means nothing. Words are cheap and easy and they mean more if you can follow through with the why you are giving the praise. “Good job in cleaning your room.” “Good job with making the honor roll.”
FIVE- Expecting perfection. Words can come across that you expect perfection. For example, if you say, “Practice makes perfect,” you are saying to your child, if you practice this (sports/ music/ whatever) you will be perfect at doing this thing. It may set the child up for failure and guilt if they never achieve the level of “perfection.” Remember, in life nothing is perfect! Instead try to word the sentence like this, “Practice will improve your skill.” Even if it’s just a smidgen of improvement, it’s in the positive direction. And as with anything in life, there’s always room for improvement.
SIX- “Oh, you’re okay.” A flippant remark often said when the kid either received a minor injury or didn’t do as well in a performance. This says to your kid, “You are mediocre. Or you’re not hurt.” Instead, you need to be specific. “Does your hand hurt? The cut is tiny, it will heal if we take care of the wound.” Or “You made a C on the tests? That’s better than a D and next time we will work on bringing that C to a B.”
SEVEN- “Hurry up.” This sends a message to your child they are chronically late. Instead of showering them with a blatant command, soften the words by including yourself in the message. “Why don’t we both hurry so we can make it to school on time.” Or if it’s really a big battle offer a reward, “If we get to school in time I’ll give you a treat on the way.” Or allow extra game time, or TV time, or offer to cook their favorite meal. Maybe make that, “If we’re on time for a week, this weekend we’ll cook your favorite meal.”
EIGHT- “You are too fat.” This statement could blow up in your face if your child grows up with eating disorders because they grew up hearing how fat they are. Instead of pointing out their weight issues, encourage exercise and give them a healthy diet to eat.
NINE- “We can’t afford…” By admitting to financial lack, you will burden your kids with too much information. While being transparent is good, they don’t need the added issue of worrying over finances. Look for other ways of saying it. “We will need to save up if we want to buy that, or go there, or whatever.”
TEN- “Clean your plate.” Meaning you can’t get up from the table until you eat every morsel on your plate. This encourages kids to be gluttons if they are forced to finish the food on their plate even if they are full. It’s better to teach them to stop eating when they feel full. Of course, don’t allow dessert if they can’t finish their dinner.