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Words have power. We can try to escape this fact, but at the end of the day, there is no getting away from it.

And children are like sponges. Yes, we all say things in the heat of the moment. We get angry and feel pressure from our children and without thinking about it, the wrong words come out. However, the more knowledge we have about the phrases we use with our little ones, the better able we are to avoid saying harmful phrases that will do much more harm than good.

Here are 8 harmful phrases you should never say when speaking to children.

1. _________ is better than you.

It’s never a good thing to compare your child to another child. By doing this, you send a stark message loud and clear: you aren’t good enough. And while it may not seem like a big deal to an adult, like I said, children are sponges, and they absorb and feel things very deeply. So, be careful what you say.

2. You were a mistake.

Even if your child came on accident, you should NEVER EVER tell them that, or insinuate it’s a mistake. When you do so, you are basically telling them that they are unwanted and this phrase will destroy their self-confidence and mental health.

3. You are fine!

While it may be tempting to tell your child, “You are fine!” or “You’re okay!” when they are upset or feeling overwhelmed, it’s best not to. The reason for this is because if your child is dealing with an intense emotion, and you tell them to disregard how they feel, they will grow to believe that emotions are uncomfortable or inconvenient. As they grow older, they will have emotional problems because of this.

4. What is wrong with you?

Kids act crazy sometimes, and our first thought may be something along these lines. And sometimes, phrases can slip right out before we realize it. But, there again, kids are sensitive and absorb our words. If you insinuate something is wrong with them, they are going to believe it.

5. Sometimes you are such a ________.

When talking to your children, it’s best to avoid using labels. Rather than labeling them – label their behavior. For example – rather than saying, “You are so lazy!” if they are engaging in a lazy behavior, say that. When you label them, they are more prone to begin believing they are that label, and it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6. I don’t know how we are ever going to afford __________.

If you are dealing with a financial obstacle, and share it with your child, who can do nothing about it, they are going to end up feeling helpless. And in turn, they are going to be anxious. It’s not only unfair to them- but horrible for their development.

7. Don’t leave the table until you finish your plate!

First and foremost, if your child is full, and you are pushing them to eat more, they are likely to end up sick. Secondly, forcing your child to eat every thing on their plate is teaching them to disregard their own body’s hunger cues and can send a bad message about how they view food.

8. Leave me alone!

When you are stressed or busy – you may accidentally say this before you even realize it. But, it’s best to avoid saying this, and instead say, “Give me just a minute. I am busy, but I am almost done.”