10 Things Not to Say to your Children

10 Things Not to Say to your ChildrenIn the heat of a tough parenting moment, sometimes the wrong words come to mind. For some, holding your tongue and reframing your feelings to be more positive and encouraging can be one of the hardest parts of being a parent.  But studies show, it’s a very important skill to master.

The way you speak to your children makes a profound impression on them. It can impact their short-term behavior and their long-term emotional outlook. Your words become their inner monologue from a young age. Use your commentary to boost your child’s confidence and support their needs with compassion by avoiding these 10 things not to say to your children:

“You’re OK”

This comment is dismissive of your child’s feelings when they are hurt or upset. Clearly they are not OK if they are reacting. Perhaps it was not the physical pain of a fall or startling sound that bothered them but rather the scare of the incident. Acknowledge the issue with compassion and ask how you can help.

“Hurry Up”

Kids are notorious for doddling but telling them to hurry adds stress to the situation. A better way to speed things along is to make a game or contest out of tasks that seem to take forever, or at least use the phrase “let’s hurry” rather than “hurry up” so your child knows you are both working on moving things forward together.

“Eat this (insert vegetable), it’s good for you.”

News flash, kids don’t think healthy food tastes good so they’re not going to want to eat it if you tell them it’s good for them. Instead you can tell them you find it delicious and explain exactly how that food helps their body.

“Stop crying”

First, this doesn’t actually get your child to stop crying so it’s highly ineffective. Second, you’re teaching your child it is not OK to cry. Crying is actually pretty healthy release of emotions when your child is upset, and a much better alternative than biting someone or destroying property. Your child will feel more afraid if you instruct him to stop crying but you can say you want to talk it through when he calms down. Until them, hug or hold your child until he’s ready to communicate.

“Because I Said So”

This one slips out sometimes when you’re just sick of answering why, why, why to the same questions all the time. But try not to do it because it is showing your child you expect him to follow authority without being given a reason. Instead, explain your reasoning or encourage your child to tell you why he thinks you’re saying something. Even if he doesn’t agree with you, he always deserves an explanation.

“You’re Driving Me Crazy”

Yes, your kids may drive you nuts many times a day but telling them so is not a good response. First, it shows lack of self-control on your part and it may also make your child blame himself for the feelings of others in this and other situations. A better way to handle stressful moments is to tell your child you are having trouble being patient and you need a break. As long as he is safe, walk away for a few minutes to catch your breath.

“Practice Makes Perfect”

Your child’s goal should always be self-improvement, not perfection. Perfection is unattainable, frustrating and sometimes psychologically damaging to kids. Rather, encourage your child to work hard to make progress towards his objective and feel rewarded by his efforts and the results.

“Stop Being a Baby”

Acting babyish may be a response to feelings or a certain situation. Baby behaviors often perk up when a new baby enters the home and is getting lots of attention or if a child is experiencing fear or anxiety. After you uncover the root cause, work with your child to face the issue in an age-appropriate way.

“I’ve Told You This 100 Times”

Your child may have mastered the art of tuning you out so repeating yourself and nagging aren’t going to solve the problem. Instead, ask your child a question that he has to think about and answer verbally to help him digest your message. Being passively told to do something is less memorable than an active conversation about the request.

“You’re Doing it Wrong”

Children learn through trial and error and more often than not they learn more from failure than success. Plus, you and your child need to know that there is more than one right way to do things. Solving a problem or completing a task his own way will build up your child’s confidence and help him become an independent thinker.

Sources: Business Insider, Redbook Magazine, I Heart Intelligence and Parents