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Words have power, regardless of what you think. Children are like tiny little sponges, and even when we don’t realize it, the things we say not only stick with them but are internalized.

We’ve all been there, we are in the heat of the moment, and we are angry and upset with our kids. Without thinking very much of it (they are just words, right?) we say something that we don’t mean. They will forgive us tomorrow and all will be forgotten, right? Well, not so much. That isn’t to say that people don’t make mistakes or that your child cannot forgive you. It is to say that no matter how much they forgive you, the words you say to your child today, become their inner voice tomorrow. So, choose your words carefully. Below, I’ve listed some phrases that no father should say to their child.

1. You should be more like _________.

Comparing your child to someone else may seem innocent enough in your mind. However, when you compare your child, they don’t hear that you are trying to help them. What they hear is that they aren’t enough and need to change. And that is a painful, self-esteem-destroying thing to hear.

2. Why are you so lazy!?

Remember to not label your child as their actions. If you must use labels – label their actions, not the child. For example, say, “Sitting around the house all day is lazy, let’s get some chores done.” When you label your child, eventually they will embrace their identity as lazy, stupid, or whatever you are calling them and give up on trying to do better.

3. You act just like your mother!

Do not talk about your child’s mother in a derogatory way. No matter if it’s true, no matter if you think they need to hear it, no matter what, it’s disrespectful and psychologically hurtful to destroy the image of your child’s mom by making hurtful comments.

4. You are fine!

If your child comes to you upset, don’t brush them off and ignore them. A lot of us grew up hearing, “You are fine!” or “Stop crying!” because our parents were not equipped to help us handle our emotions. Do better than this and help your child learn how to deal with their emotions instead of telling them to pretend like they don’t exist.

5. Stop crying, boys don’t cry!

This one irks my nerves. Boys do cry. Boys do have emotions. They are not subhumans. Please, for the love of your child and the love of humanity, stop telling men and boys to suppress their emotions. No wonder the world is in the state it is in.

6. I will never forgive you!

You might be upset, but telling your child that you will never forgive them because they made a mistake is a bad idea. First and foremost, you will forgive them. But they won’t forget the immense shame they felt when you told them you wouldn’t.

7. Stop being so shy.

You can’t just stop being shy if that is your nature. Yes, it’s good to try to get them to break out of their comfort zone. But, don’t shame them for being introverted.

8. You are starting to get a little pudgy.

Even if it’s true, don’t say this. Teach them healthy habits like exercise and eating healthy and help them to build a healthy relationship with their body. Shaming them for gaining a little bit of weight will only destroy how they see themselves.

9. If you loved me, you would ________.

Do. Not. Guilt. Trip. Your. Child. Your love should not be unconditional. Don’t make your child feel like they should be ashamed if they cannot reach a certain level or condition you are holding over them.