No one is perfect, and we all say things we do not mean sometimes. Even with that in mind, it is important to realize that our words do have power, so it’s good to be mindful of the words we choose when speaking with our tiny humans.
Something that might not seem like a big deal to say can do a lot of damage. A lot of us grew up during a time in which people didn’t realize the emotionally harmful impact of their actions and words.
Now, research is showing more and more the impact of emotional support and the impact on the way we talk to our children. If you find that you are saying any of the following, don’t beat yourself up, just make sure to begin using the better phrases provided instead.
1. Stop crying!
I grew up in a time when people did not understand that saying things like “You are fine, ” “Stop crying,” or the old “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” was emotionally invalidating. When you do this, you are making your child fear their emotions. This can be quite harmful. Instead, try to understand what is wrong and let them know it is okay to be upset.
2. I’m on a diet.
When you use this phrase, you are insinuating that you are unhappy with their body. Because kids learn from us, they may also begin to wonder if something is wrong with their bodies. Instead of saying ‘diet’ focus on healthy eating and how it makes you feel.
3. Be careful!
We all want our kids to be okay. However, if every time they try to do something you say “Be careful!” you are scaring them to think that everything is unsafe. Instead, ask questions to help them figure things out.
4. Why do I have to repeat myself a hundred times?
Children are small, and their brains are not fully developed. Sometimes there is a reason why they don’t understand. Instead of saying this, say, “Is there a reason you don’t understand?”
5. What is wrong with you?
When you say this, you are insinuating that there is something wrong or inadequate about them. This can harm their self-esteem. Focus on their behavior, not them. If they are acting badly, try to get to the bottom of the behavior without belittling them.
6. Let me do it!
It might be tempting to jump in and do things for them. However, doing so robs them of an opportunity to learn and understand. Stay patient and offer to help them do it and work as a team.
7. I told you so!
When you say this, you may give the impression that you want them to fail. They need to feel like they are on your team, not like you are against them. Instead, help them to see why things didn’t work out and to see the right way.