Parenting is no easy job- being with your child all hours of the day, and showing them the way through life, can be a difficult task. At times, you may be on edge, ultimately leading you to say things under stress; however, words have power, and you should be careful what you say to your kids.
Of course, there will be times in which you make mistakes. No one is perfect and everyone has an error, but, knowing the power of your words can help you to navigate what you should and shouldn’t say. If you are wondering where you stand on all of this, here are the ten things you should NEVER say to your children.
1. Stop being so dramatic.
Yes, children can be a bit intense sometimes, and while their actions may seem dramatic to you, when you label them as dramatic you are doing more harm than good. Little ones look to their parents to help them navigate their emotions, and when you as their parent make them feel like their emotions don’t matter, they will believe that.
2. Why are you so selfish?
Everyone can be selfish sometimes, even kids. However, it’s important not to make them feel or believe that they are selfish and that is just the way they are- and doing so can be traumatic. If your child is acting selfishly, focus on their behavior, not their character.
3. You get on my nerves!
Using this phrase can be damaging because it will inevitably make your child feel as though they are a burden. When speaking with kids, you should refrain from making them feel as though they are inherently a burden.
4. Don’t worry – everything will be okay.
It can be tempting to toss your child’s concerns to the side, but instead, social psychologist Susan Newman explains that “It’s better to explain how you as a parent will do everything to keep your child safe.”
5. You don’t feel that way.
Karen Koenig, MEd, LCSW says this is one of the worst phrases you can ever use with your child. Not only does it invalidate their feelings- it can make them doubt their own emotions and reality. It is gaslighting. Instead, ask them why they feel that way, or talk them through their emotions.
6. You were a mistake.
Talk about traumatic- even if this phrase is true, DO NOT EVER use it. Even if you are under severe frustration, children can be scarred by this remark in the long term.
7. I will never forgive you.
It happens, in the heat of the moment, we say something horrible. But be careful not to use this phrase. While you may not mean it literally, your child will take it that way, and they will believe that you will never forgive them.
8. I’m ashamed of you.
No matter how upset you are with your child’s actions, avoid using this phrase. It will ultimately make your child feel like a disgrace. In reality, you are upset and ashamed at how they acted, not who they are, and it’s important to explain the difference.
9. You are a burden.
This is a heavyweight to put on a person that did not ask to be here. No matter how frustrated you get at the weight of your load or how stressful it is as a parent, using this phrase will make your child feel as though they are the reason for all of your problems. And that is an unfair weight to put on a child.
10. Can’t you act more like _____?
If you want your child to have a healthy sense of self and positive mental health, don’t use this phrase. Comparing them to others will only make them self-conscious, anxious and will destroy their self-esteem.