Whether they’re used to get naughty children to behave or to bargain with the kids when they just won’t eat their greens, here are some things you should avoid saying to your little ones.
1. You’re Making Me Sad: Children should never feel responsible for their parents’ feelings and emotions- parents are the ones to worry about this! This can be especially damaging if down the road you encounter tough times and children begin to blame themselves.
2. I’m So Fat and I Need To Go On A Diet: If you display this negative self image in front of your children, they will grow up to spot flaws in themselves which can lead to low self esteem and body image issues. Also to avoid: obviously, never call a child ‘fat’ as even if they are overweight, they will not benefit from being labelled in such a horrible way – instead help them with changes to their diet. “Don’t eat that or you’ll get fat” is another one to avoid- focus on why healthy foods are so beneficial, not why putting on weight is so negative.
3. Stop Crying: Don’t tell children to stop crying. Kids need to know that expressing emotion in all its forms is okay, so allow them time to cry. Also to avoid: “Don’t be mad at your brother/sister”. They cant help being angry- it’s a perfectly acceptable emotion, as long as how they deal with this emotion is appropriate.
4. Big Boys/Girls Don’t Get Scared: Even adults get scared! Don’t dismiss their feelings.
5. I’m Disappointed In You: Usually this one is pulled out when a child already knows what they’ve done wrong and feel guilty. Making them feel responsible for your disappointment and sadness only makes them feel more horrible!
6. Do What I Say…Or Else: Explain to your child why you want them to do something and the reasoning behind your instructions. This will be more successful than the “because I said so” route. Also to avoid: “it’s my way or the highway” – a phrase and mentality of many authoritarian style parents- proven by the Journal of Adolescence to actually create more out-of- control children than parents whose children respect and trust them.
7. I Hate It When You…: According to the experts, if you use this one frequently enough, children just start to hear “I hate you” and stop distinguishing between parents disliking their behaviour rather than them.
8. I Do Everything For You: Whilst it may seem like it at times, you actually don’t. According to Brad Reedy, author of “The Journey of the Heroic Parent: Your Child’s Struggle and the Road Home”, “one of the most damaging things for a child is the un-lived life of a parent…this leaves the child with no place to put their hurt and anger…‘the problem must be me’.”
9. I Told You So: Don’t brag about how much you know- childhood is where kids have to learn for themselves through (a lot of) mistakes, even if that means falling off the couch when they were told not to jump on it.
10. I Wish You Could Be Like Your Sibling: Each child is different! Don’t compare them- celebrate their differences and help them through their own unique challenges.
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