Words are far more powerful than most people could ever realize, especially the words spoken towards a child, whose brain is still developing. Of course, we are all human, and sometimes we say the wrong thing.

However, once you realize that something has been said that is harmful or at the very least, simply not beneficial for your child to hear, it’s important to correct yourself and do better. Little kids and even big kids are like sponges. They listen to what we say, and their little brains internalize it. Below I am listing 10 things fathers should never say to their children, but honestly, the same goes for mothers as well.

Here are 10 things fathers should never say to their kids.

1. Stop crying.

When your child is crying, and you want them to feel better, you may say the words, “Stop crying” before you even think about it. But, when you do this, you are invalidating your child’s emotions and pushing them to the side, which makes them feel ashamed for feeling their feelings. Rather than helping them to feel better, you are making them uncomfortable with their emotions, which isn’t going to help them to manage them properly or healthily.

2. You need to set a better example for _____.

While this one is likely spoken with good intentions, it may do more harm than good. If your child is an older sibling, and they seem to be jealous or in need of more attention and acting out, Dr. Katherine Kersey suggests praising their strengths as an older sibling instead.

3. I will never forgive you.

We all get upset and say things we don’t mean. But, remember, that everyone makes mistakes, especially little ones who are still developing. While they may have hurt or disappointed you, be careful not to use this phrase which could ultimately really damage them.

4. I’m ashamed of you.

You might be ashamed of how your child is acting, but when it comes down to it, it’s doubtful you are ashamed of them entirely. Regardless, when you say this, your child hears, “You are a disgrace to our family.” And with this comes a lot of shame, which ultimately is going to destroys their mental health.

5. You’re a terrible child.

Kids act badly sometimes. However, telling them they are a terrible child is not going to help at all. Instead, emphasize their behavior. For example, if they are doing something bad, like hitting their brother, say “It’s bad to hit your brother.”

6. Don’t be shy.

We all want our kids to flourish and have healthy, happy lives. If you notice your child is shy, you might want to coax them out of this behavior so they can make friends. But, telling them to not be shy when they are already feeling shy, anxious, or withdrawn is only likely to make them withdraw more.

7. Why can’t you be more like _______?

The comparison game is completely unfair for a child. And it is only going to make your child feel as though you don’t view them enough.

8. If you really loved me _________.

This phrase is manipulation, pure and simple. Rather than manipulating your child to get them to do what you want, try a different tactic. Using the love your child has for you as a means to guilt them into doing something for you is only going to make them feel insecure.

9. Here let me do it.

When a parent sees their child struggling, our first thought is to try to help relieve that struggle. And while that is okay, sometimes, it is okay to let them struggle a little to learn a lot. If you jump in every time they struggle, they will grow to depend on the help.

10. Eat everything on your plate.

A lot of us grew up hearing this. Or “hungry people are suffering in _____, eat all your food.” But, forcing your child to eat when they are not hungry or to eat something they truly do not enjoy eating at all is only going to enforce an unhealthy relationship with food and teach them to ignore their own hunger cues and body.

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