10 Things Not to Say to Your Kids
Any clearheaded individual understands that when dealing with a child you should both pick words with care, and filter the contents of what you are saying. The phrase "Why on earth did I give birth to you?" and its "gentler" analog "Where do you spring from? Outright hurting ("What a fool you are!", "Are you all thumbs?!", "I’m not gonna buy you a pie, you're fat enough as it is!") – such phrases in a fit of temper are sometimes said by genuinely loving and mothers who are quiet in times of frustration. Although they are dangerous, the harm done is obvious; therefore it is worth getting rid of them and finding a more positive way to express yourself as a parent. Far worse, is the situation with phrases where the risk is concealed and which are toxic to the immature child's mind – especially in the long run.
"You're a bad boy / bad girl". Variations: "Only bad boys / girls do like that." For starters, this is not true: half an hour ago you said, "Oh, my sweetie-pie!" – and now your precious one, your ‘sweetie’ has done the same as those terrible 'bad kids'. Second, do not teach the child the rigid division between good and bad kids, because it is not all that simple. Third, and this is very essential, make a clear distinction between wrong-doings from the concept of "bad kid". Teach how to act properly and with dignity – it is in your hands.
"If you are acting up, I will give you away to Boogieman!". Variations: "As long as you live with me, it should be done like this", "As you grow up then you'll be doing what you want", "Unless you stop it, I'll call the cops!". Does that mean the kid may actually behave badly, but not with his parents, not to cause them discomfort? The main point is that you should not threaten a child with separation – he/she perceives everything literally, and the fear that he'll be "given away" can linger deep in his mind. And again, the baby needs to know that all the problems can be solved with parents, without the involvement of third parties.
"Don't give me any of that! Or I'll tell your dad and he'll fix you!". Variations: "I'll tell your upbringer of the way you behave at home!", "Your Grandma will come and I'll tell what her grandkid gets up to!". The purpose is to cause the child to fear the punishment from a loved one or to disappoint a loved one. Do you really want this to your child?
"Attaboy! Not like some.". Variations: "You're my most beautiful of all the kids in the day care!", "You're smart, not like your classmates". To compare your child to others is a thankless task, even if your child wins when comparing. Besides, such statements can taint the child, he may also form the idea that you are competing with others at his/her expense. If the child is feeling that he does not live up your expectations, or that the reality is different from your rosy estimates, he will be feeling the burden of guilt.
"Do as I say, don't play smart here!". Variations: "My way or the highway!", "Cut it out with your questions!". Rely upon it, kids are more willing to carry out the wishes of adults if they understand the meaning and do so correctly. There are enough wacky things in adult life, and children will have time yet to get to know them.
"Stop crying right away!". Variations: "There's nothing terrible", "So what, all falls down". No, the child is crying because it hurts, and it frightens him/her. Respect his/her feelings. If you know exactly that the child is crying simply to manipulate you – you should know that the child needs your attention, and he/she wants to get it by any means.
"Nevermind, I also didn't like math". Variation: "If you can't memorize it – don't teach the poem." No one is asking you to play the superhero that is able to cope with everything, but such statements can discourage motivation within your child.
"Your father's son!". Variation: "You are just like your mother". Usually this is said with negative intentions. What can be achieved with a phrase: the child sees that one parent, to put it mildly, as imperfect; the other parent is accusing the first one of being imperfect; child feels guilty – both because of their own "inherited" imperfection and the love to his/her parents despite their flaws.
"You got me disappointed". Variations: "I don't wanna talk to you", "Get lost!". The child is truly scared to hear phrases as such, mainly because you are his/her dearest people.
"You're playing wrong". Variations: "This is a terrible suit, why have you put it on?", "It's not an interesting book, we’d rather buy this one". There is no doubt you have good intentions and want to foster good taste in your child, but a child – even quite a little one, has his/her own preferences. Guide, gently advise, but never prescribe what he/she is to do.