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Things You Should Never Say to Your Child

Chandramita Bora Mar 6, 2020
"You're an idiot", "leave me alone", "stop bothering me". If you find yourself saying such things to your child when you get angry at her, then think about it. Such phrases can hurt your child beyond measure. So, choose your words carefully as they can affect your child's upbringing.
Parenting isn't easy, it requires endless patience, understanding, and empathy to be good at your job. At times, it is quite natural to get angry and frustrated, while trying to balance the responsibilities of being a parent, with your other demands and interests.
In your anger, some hurtful and terrible words may slip out of your mouth, which can not only leave your child feeling hurt, but also frighten her and affect her self-esteem. The trick here is to remain calm so that you don't end up saying something you might regret later.
Most parents do not know how to control their emotional outbursts and often end up screaming or shouting at their children without realizing that such incidents can not only have a negative effect on the upbringing of the latter, but can also spoil their relationship with them.
Learning to control your emotions will help you tackle any situation with ease and make things run more smoothly at your home. Good parenting goes a long way in instilling positive values in your children, thereby preparing them for the future.
In this story, we have listed few wrong and insensitive things you should never say to your children, as well as ways that will help you communicate with them in a positive way, without hurting their feelings.

"Baby, Don't be Sad."

Denying your child's feelings and emotions can be very confusing for her. When your child is upset, do not try to suppress her emotions by saying something like, ''Don't cry'', or ''Don't feel bad", as this will interfere with her growth and cause problems later in life.
Do you think telling your child not to cry, or worry will stop her from feeling sad and calm her down? No, she will feel more upset and continue to worry even more.
For example, telling her not to worry about the first day of school, will not lessen her anxiety, in fact, she will continue to worry even more. And if you do not understand her and ask her to bottle up her feelings, she may get frightened thinking that some emotions are unacceptable, or shameful, and hence, should be suppressed. In the long run, this can affect her emotional well-being.

What to Say?

Offer reassurance to your child by saying, ''I can see you are worried, can you tell me what's bothering you, so that we can talk about it?'' The fact that you empathize with her feelings will make her comfortable and help her describe her feelings and emotions without fear.

"Don't Do That!"

This seemingly harmless phrase can actually be interpreted in a very different way by your child. If you tell her not to do a certain thing, she is going to do everything in her power to prove she can actually do that!

What to Say?

If you want to prevent your child from doing something, explain the actual reason why you are telling her not to do that. If she is trying to touch the electric socket, or climb the bookcase, instead of yelling out "Don't do that", make her understand that it is not safe, and she may get hurt.

"If You Do that One More Time...."

Using threats to enforce discipline will prove to be a futile effort. Threats can only make your child fear you, they are not going to make her respect you. Sometimes you get so angry, that you yell at your child, or threaten her by saying "You won't get dinner", or "I'll throw you out of the house".
But, is it possible to do so? No. Because, threats are hard and impractical to implement. This can raise questions on your credibility, and the next time you threaten your child, she is not going to take you seriously.

What to Say?

Instead of threatening your child, give her a choice, at the same time tell her what the consequences will be if she does something wrong or misbehaves. Deprive her of something that she really loves and enjoys.
If she loves video games, don't let her play till she promises to behave the right way, and actually does so! You can tell her something like, "If you choose to behave this way, you will not be allowed to play video games for the next two days".

"You're the Best, Great Job....."

We all know that praising and encouraging your child, can help instill confidence and boost her self-esteem.
But praising her for every little thing can make it meaningless. It could also refrain her from trying new things, for fear of not living up to your expectations. In addition, frequent praises can make her expect the same from others, and failure to get it can cause anger and frustration.

What to Say?

Focus more on her overall development rather than the goals achieved. Praise her only for those activities that require real effort. For example, if your child has drawn a beautiful sketch, instead of saying ''It's great!", or "Beautiful job!'', tell her what you liked about her drawing like, how beautifully she has drawn the house, the bright colors she used for the rainbow, etc.

"Your Father/Mother is...."

No matter how much you dislike certain habits of your spouse, do not make negative statements about him or her in front of your children, as it makes them uncomfortable. Further, they may assume that you do not respect each other.
Don't forget, your children should respect both parents, and not just one. If you don't respect your spouse, your children will also not respect him or her.
If you constantly criticize your spouse or compare your child with him/her by saying, "You're just like your dad or mom", it can be emotionally harmful for your child. Divorced parents, especially, should not bad-mouth each other in front of their children. This will cause them not only to withdraw from you, but they will also lose respect for both of you.

What to Do?

Respect and accept your spouse the way he or she is, and also teach your children to respect both parents. If you are divorced, don't put the entire blame on your spouse even if you know he or she is mainly responsible for the divorce. You will be respected by your children, if you do not say anything negative about your spouse, in front of them.

"I Wish You Were More Like..."

Every child is special and has his or her unique personality. But, when you compare your child to her siblings, peers, or other kids, you're asking her to be different. Comparison may make her feel she is inferior, and no matter what she does, you are not going to appreciate her. Moreover, comparing children with their siblings can result in sibling rivalry.

What to Do?

Accept your child the way she is and appreciate her individuality and uniqueness. Teach her what is right and wrong, so that she can make her own decisions. Encourage her to pursue her own interests and dreams instead of following the crowd.

"Leave Me Alone!"

Sometimes we end up saying such things out of frustration that can hurt our children and make them feel unwanted. Saying something like 'Leave me alone', or 'You are making me really mad', can make them feel you don't have time for them.
This can affect their thoughts and make them think there's no point talking to you. This can eventually spoil your relationship with them.

What to Say?

Parents need to make time for themselves. Communicate your feelings openly to your children rather than just blurting at them. They may not be able to judge the gravity of the situation, or exactly how or why you're busy or stressed out.
If you are busy, tell your child you need to finish an important task first, after which you will play with her, or go for a walk. Till then, you can ask her to read a book, or play with her toys.

"I Wish I'd Never Had Children."

Needless to say how hurtful it can be for your child when you tell her, "I wish you'd never been born", or "It's better to be childless than have a kid like you". Your child may feel unwanted, uncared for, and worst of all, such words can deter your relationship with your child.
Children can sometimes fail to realize that their parents can also feel negative at times, and the terrible words that slip from their mouth out of frustration do not reflect their actual emotions. So, try to control your anger, and be very careful about what you say, as words once spoken cannot be taken back.

What to Do?

The best way to control such extreme emotional outbursts is to keep quiet for sometime, take deep breaths, and relax. Wait for a moment, get over those negative emotions, then try to regain your composure, before speaking to your child. And if you have actually said something as hurtful as the above statement, apologize to your child by saying sorry, and that you didn't mean what you said.

"You Can Do Better."

To motivate their children to work harder, or still do better, parents often say, "I know you could do better", or "You can try harder", as they think they are capable of doing much more. This can make them feel you are not satisfied with their efforts, and discourage them.
Moreover, such words do not clearly explain exactly what you expect from them. They can have a negative impact on your children and can do exactly the opposite of motivating them.

What to Say?

Tell your child exactly what you expect of her. Do not forget to appreciate her efforts, if she is really going that extra mile to improve her performance. Find out the areas she needs improvement in, and coach and assist her accordingly to reach her goals.

"You are a Loser!"

Calling your child a loser or an idiot, will make her feel humiliated and cause her to withdraw.
Similarly, telling her she is mean will make her feel that meanness, or laziness is in her nature. Eventually, this will reflect on her behavior and she will lose her self-confidence. These words have the power to affect your child so badly, that she will never forget them. Hence, it is always better to focus on what you say instead of regretting later.

What to Do?

Instead of using negative labels for your children, address the wrong behavior. Tell them clearly that their behavior is inappropriate and wrong, and help them correct it.

"Wait Till Your Daddy Gets Home!"

As mentioned earlier, threats are not a good way to enforce discipline. The statement mentioned above however, is not only a threat but also an example of discipline that is postponed.
Waiting for the father to come home to handle the situation is not a practical option, as by the time your husband gets home, your child may actually have forgotten what she did. Further, it can weaken your authority and instill a sense of fear in your child for her father, which can affect their relationship.

What to Do?

As a parent, you should make your child realize the consequences of her action immediately. Parenting decisions should always be taken together, and both of you should act in proper agreement instead of leaving the task of enforcing discipline to your spouse.

"Because I Said So!"

Just to win an argument with your child, many a time you may end up saying, "Because I said so", without realizing that it denies your child's autonomy, giving her an impression that her feelings do not matter.
Remember, children have the right to ask questions to learn and figure out things on their own. So, when you don't explain the reason behind your action, you deprive them from learning an important lesson in life.

What to Do?

Explain your actions, or behavior. If your child wants to play instead of going to a family reunion, first acknowledge her desire to play, then teach her the importance of a family and a family reunion, and how everyone would be happy to see her.

"I was More Responsible When I was Your Age."

Parents often express their frustrations about their child's shortcomings, which irritates the child beyond reason. This can not only put unnecessary burden on your child to prove herself, but can also break her confidence.

What to Do?

Before making such statements, try to recall your own limitations and shortcomings as a child. This will make you more tolerant towards your child's mistakes, and also give you the patience to help her correct them.

"I Hate You Too!"

It is true that sometimes children say some really hurtful things, like "I hate you", but many parents make the mistake of answering them in the same manner. This is often done in the heat of an argument, without realizing that children can actually believe it and think their parents really find them annoying.

What to Do?

If your child says, "I hate you", try to understand she is still not matured enough to control her anger and frustration. Sometimes, children say such things to get what they want, so that you feel bad about yourself and give in to their demands.
But you are a matured individual, and can surely realize the harmful effects of using such a phrase, just to win an argument with your child. If you make such a mistake in extreme anger, be sure to apologize to your child. Next time, make sure to control your temper and not say something that you might regret later.
As parents, we should learn to hold back our emotional outbursts, if we really want to avoid saying hurtful things to our children. If they say something really provocative, don't react immediately. Take some time and refocus on the main subject of your argument or discussion.
If you think you are losing control over your emotions, leave the argument and tell them you will discuss it later. This will help you avoid saying things you don't want to.