If you’re a halfway decent parent, you do your best to not swear at your children or call them names. But other phrases that roll off the tongue can be every bit as dangerous — especially since you might not even realize you’re saying them. Take a look at six phrases you need to cut out of your conversations with your kids.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with you?” implies that there’s something wrong with your child as a person rather than just a difficult circumstance. A better way to phrase the question might be “What’s wrong?” “What’s the matter?” or “What’s going on?” Taking out the “with you” neutralizes the question and makes it more about helping your child handle the issue rather than attacking her for her attitude.
“Why can’t you be more like your brother (or sister)?”
Many of us wouldn’t dream of uttering these exact words, but how many times have you said something similar as a way of comparing your child to others? If other children can sit still, pass the test, eat all their dinner, or pack their own backpack, why can’t yours? No matter what you want your children to do or be, shaming them into it is not the best approach.
“I’ll never let anything bad happen to you.”
It sounds like such a warm and loving thing to say, but in reality it’s a lie. Bad things happen in this world, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prevent that. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
“Don’t you want to make me happy?”
Most children want to please their parents, which is a healthy desire. Manipulating that desire to elicit good behavior from your children is, well, manipulative. It’s unhealthy and unfair to put the weight of your own emotions and well-being on your children. Your happiness is your own choice and responsibility — not theirs.
“You are a bad boy (or girl).”
It’s important to separate your kids’ actions from who they are. After all, there’s a difference between doing something bad and being bad — and it’s an important distinction to make. Plus, your children will internalize what you tell them about themselves. Do you really want to hear your child telling his teacher, “I’m a bad boy?”
As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children quit whining, complaining, and grumbling. Crying — as long as it doesn’t fit into one of those categories — is perfectly acceptable. In fact, crying is healthy and necessary, and when your child is really upset, he can’t stop crying even if he wants to. Being told to not cry or to stop crying will only make him feel worse.
Don’t get weighed down by guilt! If you have said any of these things to your children — and most of us have been at fault at one time or another — ask your child’s forgiveness and start fresh. Unlike the previous six phrases, “I’m sorry” is something you should always be prepared to say to your kids.
Parent Society Editorial Team. 6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids [Online]. No Date [Cited 2016 June, 13]. Available from: http://www.parentsociety.com/parenting/big-kids/6-things-you-should-never-say-to-your-kids/.