Childhood is both the most fun and exciting time of most people’s lives, free from responsibility, and also the biggest challenge that one may face. Why? When a child is going through those initial development years, they are discovering themselves – so what if development brings them situations that actually hinder their development?
This is the reality of the world today. One hand, there are those parents who are incredibly focused on their growth and development. These children have their sights on being something more, and they recognize that they need to make this a reality in their world sooner rather than later. If your child doesn’t realize what they want to me from a young age, don’t worry! Many teens don’t figure this out until far later! Regardless of their age, your acceptance of their goals and plans is integral to their success.
Here are 8 childhood lesson that have a lasting effect on your life as an adult:
#1 – “Make me proud!”
When a parent makes this statement, we know that they are often genuinely well-meaning. This is a statement that often starts at a young age and carries well into our adult lives, reminding children that they should make their parents happy at all costs, even if that means sacrificing their own happiness. Do you see why this is a negative approach? Instead of addressing what will make you happy, look at what will make them happy.
#2 – “It’s all your fault.”
This is a phrase that is often used in abusive or manipulative parent/child relationships, a tool to help the parent retain control over their victim. Rather than acknowledging their own actions or responsibilities, these parents shift the focus to their child. In time, this will create feelings of self-blame which they will carry with them into their adult lives, blaming themselves anytime something goes wrong. This has a long-term psychological impact, influencing their lives well into the adult years unless it is addressed.
#3 – “Good boy (girl)”
Why is something that recognizes your child’s effort a bad thing? This statement associates a particular set of beliefs with being either good or bad. Therefore, in order to be seen as a ‘good’ person, one must meet these requirements, right? The truth is that when most parents make this statement, they are doing so in an attempt to motivate their child to be something better. Rather than associating a specific behavior with being ‘good’ just tell them they are ‘good’.
#4 – “It’s not a big deal.”
It’s a phrase that we often use in an attempt to soothe or comfort children that are overly upset by a situation, but these words may actually do more harm than good. Telling a child that something they deem to be important in their life isn’t ‘a bit deal’ is minimizing their feelings. This leads to an adult who fails to acknowledge their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Instead, try to talk through your child’s feelings with them, validating what they are experiencing and demonstrating how to deal with these emotions in a healthy and constructive way.
#5 – “You don’t mean that.”
If a child’s feelings or experiences don’t line up with what you feel they should be feeling at the time, you may find yourself trying to correct your child or direct them to the ‘right’ explanation of their feelings. However, in telling them that their feelings are incorrect or inaccurate, you are minimizing their feelings in a similar way to the parents referenced in the previous point. Rather than trying to correct your child, encourage them to explore their feelings and try to understand why they feel a specific way. This level of understanding can help them to clarify their feelings, identifying what they are genuinely experiencing.
#6 – “You’re too sensitive.”
While This can be heard any child, it is an experience often associated with young boys. Our society creates the expectation that young girls are emotional and sensitive, and that’s not only okay, its to be expected. Young boys, however, are taught that emotions are a weakness, encouraged to be strong and collected. Ultimately this leads to adult men who are incapable of dealing with their emotions in a healthy way, burying them away from the world. If you want your young boy to grow into an emotionally healthy young man, encourage him to explore his feelings despite society’s expectations.
#7 – “You can’t do anything right.”
A child is at a stage where they are learning and growing, developing their self-esteem and confidence and establishing a sense of self. This is a time in a child’s life where they look to their parents for guidance and support. Children need their parents to help them build up their confidence, not tear it down. When you make judgmental or negative statements towards your child, you instill in them an anxiety or fear that they aren’t good enough, leading to further experiences of self-loathing or hatred down the road.
#8 – “I promise…”
While this is well-intentioned, it is arguably the most harmful statement that a parent can make to their child. Why? When a promise is broken to an adult (which you should try to avoid, to begin with) they are able to rationalize the situation from an adult’s perspective. A child, however, is unable to rationalize this behavior in the same way. Instead, they innocently see a promise as an unbreakable agreement, and the idea of breaking it is more than they can handle.