6 Things Not to Say to Your Kids
Boy wouldn’t it be great if both parents and children were perfect. There would never be an occasion for parents to get frustrated with their children because their children would never misbehave. But in the real world, parents and children are human and they aren’t perfect. When you’re a parent and you get frustrated, you may say something to your child without thinking. The following list are the top 6 Things Not to Say to Your Kids.
- “I wish you’d never been born.” This tops my list of things I have heard parents say to a child and no child should ever have to hear their parent make this comment. Even if you’re so frustrated with your child you could spit sixteen penny nails, bite your tongue if you think you’re about to say this. Not only does this phrase hurt a child’s feelings at the time it’s said, it damages their self-esteem and makes them feel they aren’t wanted. And if you find yourself really feeling this way, seek help or counselling. It may be that you need to step away for a while to get yourself back on track; and there are places available to help.
- “I wish you were more like your brother/sister.” Another statement that just spins me up to hear a parent tell their child. No one likes to be compared with someone else. They want to be appreciated for who they are. Making statements like this only leads to your child feeling inadequate and encourages sibling rivalry. A child who hears this often may feel they can’t accomplish anything of worth because they’ll never be as good as their sibling. Rather than comparing your children, recognize that each child is different with their own strengths and abilities. Celebrate their differences and love them for who they are.
- “Hurry up or I’ll leave you here.” Children don’t understand about time like adults do. If your child already has a fear of being abandoned or getting lost, when you make this statement you will add to their fear. Try to find out why they’re lollygagging and do what you can to get them moving without causing them any fear. Some children need time to transition from one activity to another. We use a 5 minute warning before leaving home or changing activities. This helps the children to know what is going on and allows the parent time to get everything prepared to move on as well.
- “You never do what I ask you to do.” This goes back to age old advice of not using the words never and always when confronting someone. When you make this statement, your child will feel like they can’t do anything right. They’ll begin wonder why they should bother trying at all. Try using the phrase, “I would like you to do this in this way.” Be specific in what you want so they’ll understand and be able to accomplish what you asked.
- Disparaging comments about your child’s other parent. Children don’t need to be put in the middle of their parents’ disagreements or hear you speak ill of the other parent. This may cause the child think they have to choose sides or they may say bad things about them, too. Even if you are separated from your child’s other parent, it is important only to say kind things about them in front of your children. If there is an issue, it would be better for the child to learn this as they grow up instead of you undermining their relationship with the other parent. I am not talking about abuse or other safety issues here, but common name calling and placing your children in the middle or asking them to select sides just isn’t right.
- “We can’t afford that.” If you tell your children you can’t afford something often enough, they may begin to think that money can buy happiness. They may also come to the conclusion that your family is in financial difficulties, whether it is true or not. Rather than saying you can’t afford something, you don’t have to give them a reason why your answer is no to a request. And if you do feel you need to explain, discuss over all finances instead of just the item they are asking you to purchase. This may be a great time to discuss budgeting. Perhaps it is time for an allowance so they can learn to save and spend wisely.
As parents, we all get frustrated with our children from time to time. If you find that you are making these statements, please apologize to your child immediately. Explain that you were wrong, you didn’t mean what you said, you love them and you’ll try not to say it again. Children need to have parents who encourage and build them up, not tear down their self-esteem with careless words they don’t mean.
What other things should we avoid saying to our children?