Parents can be the biggest cheerleaders as well as harshest critics of their children. In our defense I can say that all we want is to raise our kids in the appropriate way and sometimes we may take methods which are borderline abusive towards our kids. Healthy communication is the most important aspect of right parenting and it should not be compromised on any grounds.
The manner of communication with our kids has the potential to shape their personalities. We often don’t realize but the way we speak to them leaves a lasting impact on them. It won’t be an exaggeration when I say that parenting is all about how to communicate with kids, moreover what to say and what to refrain from.
Many adults suffering from anxiety and confidence issues trace back the origin of their problems to unhealthy and toxic communication with their families.
The world may not always be kind and appreciative towards your children. There will be bullying, mocking and discouragement. The home should be their safe haven.
We have enlisted ten phrases we should never tell our kids and what their impact is.
1. This colour/dress doesn’t look good on you-
Any comment on the physical appearance of kids is disrespectful. The kids may be little and unaware but they understand the sense of appreciation and criticism. It can be anything from “You don’t look good in this dress.” or “You should not wear white/black or any colour.” which may affect their self worth for a long time.
2. If you eat more, you will get fat-
Kids are not meant for following your fitness goals. They should not be submitted to cruel models of diets and fitness. Their age is to experiment with different tastes and relish them. You are also forcing down the wrong ideas of body image saying being fat is bad and thin is good.
Instead, tell them about how the food affects their health and say: “Eating too much of this can be unhealthy for you and we will eat just 2 spoons or a bowl.”
You can also say: “We have eaten this enough. Let’s try something new now.”
3. I told you so-
Making mistakes and learning from them is the way of life. That’s the way adults go about their lives too. We cannot expect our children to always be obedient and perfect. They ought to try their methods instead of always listening.
When we say “I told you so.” to them, we push them away from sharing their experiences with us.
The child may hesitate or get scared in sharing the consequences of their actions as they fear getting scolded or being looked down on.
Instead, tell them: “It’s ok, it happens. Try doing it the way Mumma/Papa told you for the next time.”
4. You can’t do this-
This could be the most discouraging phrase you can say to your children. Naturally, children try to attempt something purely out of curiosity and by being inspired by others. The most we can do is assist them in their attempt. Once they learn that a particular action is beyond their capacity, they will step back and wait for the right time. But what they will remember out of this will be your supporting attitude.
If we discourage kids at the first step, they will probably try to attempt it on their own and in your absence which is even more harmful.
So what you can say instead: ” Let me help you. It will be difficult for you to do it alone.”
5. She/ He is better than you-
Comparing your kid’s growth or achievement to other kids is hostile and emotionally damaging. It fills them with self-doubt, low confidence and even jealousy. Do we as adults like to be compared with our friends or colleagues? Your kid may start distancing from yourself emotionally with the guilt of not making you happy or proud.
Instead, work on their qualities and guide them in excelling in those.
6. Boys don’t cry or Don’t be a cry baby-
Tears and grief are not age or gender-specific. Crying is a healthy way of letting out one’s emotions and suppression of one’s emotion of sadness can lead to anger and aggression. When we stop our kids from crying, we are not only hampering their emotional growth but are also teaching them to pile up their feelings.
Studies show that many men who have temperament issues or are violent towards their partners have been stopped from expressing their anger and sadness through tears. Also, they believe that crying is an act of weakness and therefore they don’t respect the opposite gender.
7. Girls/Boys don’t do this-
It’s the 21st century. Gender stereotypes have been thrashed and broken multiple times. Many parents now are choosing gender-neutral parenting.
Let your child do whatever they like doing irrespective of their gender.
It can start with something simple like letting your daughters play with monster trucks and buy your son a kitchen playset if he wants.
To read more about gender-neutral parenting, read https://infano.care/gender-neutral-parenting-parenting-beyond-stereotypes/
8. We can’t afford it-
If you as a family ever face financial difficulties, think a lot before disclosing it to the children.
Telling them that you can’t afford to buy a new toy for your kid is just not the right way to put it across, even as a casual joke.
It may cause fear and inferiority complex in them and they may start hiding their genuine needs from you.
Instead, try explaining that this will help you as a family to save for more important things.
9. If you don’t listen to me I will….
Parents often use the threat as a last resort to get their kids to behave the way they want but it’s not a healthy and long-term plan.
Also, it may backfire as kids get rebellious or its effect keeps on getting reduced.
Don’t instill unnecessary fears in a child’s mind to stop them from making mischief.
We all carry one or the other fear of our childhood into our adult life. It may be a fear of insects, ghosts or even a policeman.
Instead, tell them the reason you don’t want them to behave in a wrong way.
10. Go give a hug or kiss to them-
It looks adorable when tiny kids give a peck on your cheeks or hug you with their little arms. But don’t be in a misunderstanding, even infants and toddlers have a sense of comfort about their physical space.
Learn to respect their space and body.
Kids get the sense and vibes from others just like adults. Never force them to give a hug or kiss someone otherwise it may turn out very dangerous for the future.
Set and learn to respect their boundaries from the youngest age.
Always ask for their consent and try to teach them a sense of good and bad touch.
Child psychologists also believe that appreciating your kid at every small achievement with phrases like ‘good job’ can be detrimental to their emotional strength as they may get dependent on your appreciation for every little task.
Be respectful towards their feelings and emotions. Practice non-violent parenting.
What else do you think parents should refrain from saying to their kids? Share with us in the comments.