As kids grow, they begin to take in all they see and hear around them. It becomes easier to make an impression, and their reception becomes even stronger.
What we say to them and expose them to will become the things that they will carry with them—for weeks, months, years or even the rest of their lives. Hence, it is important that we are conscious of the things that we say to our kids, particularly because we do not want to get them wounded by our words.
If there’s one thing that will go on to shape how our kids view themselves and the world, it’s the manner with which we speak to them. Their esteem, confidence, and validation depend greatly on the way we talk to our kids. Hence, it is only wise that we speak to them in a healthy manner, in order to help them feel loved and supported as they grow.
This piece highlights some of the things you should never say to your kids. Interested in knowing some of them? Keep reading!
“You did good, but could have done better”
Unfortunately, a lot of parents say this phrase to their kids often. However, once a compliment is punctured by a “but,” it loses its quality. As a matter of fact, the ‘but' takes the compliment itself away. It is important that as a guardian or parent, you celebrate your kids' small victories. By so doing, you motivate your child to keep doing well, and even do better. However, when you say “but,” you make them feel as though you’re not proud of them, and that they have not done enough, which can cause much more harm than good. So, rather than say “but you could have done better,” tell your child that they did well and that you’re proud of them. Also, encourage them by adding that you trust them to do better. That way, they know you’re proud of their work and will do all they can to keep you feeling that way.
“What’s wrong with you?”
While this phrase may be super timely when you’re showing compassion, it might cause some harm if it is said in annoyance or anger. According to Karly McBride, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, when an adult whom a child trusts and depends on for all things indicates that something is wrong with the child, the child will accept this, internalize it and believe it. The child will begin to question him/herself, asking what is wrong with them but unable to find the answer. With the little life experience they have, they may come up with their own explanation of what’s wrong, which in many cases will have a lasting effect. In some cases, it might be something as broad as believing that they're a bad person or aren’t good enough. McBride notes that these kinds of messages can be so devastating when they are internalized that they may take a lifetime to get over with, even with therapy.
“Stop crying, you’ll be fine”
When you tell kids to stop crying, you indirectly tell them that it’s wrong to show emotions. I understand that watching your child cry might be frustrating for you as a parent, but you also do not have to make your child feel like an outcast for doing something common to every child. Children cry naturally, and by trying to stop yours from crying, you’re invalidating his or her feelings. Rather than tell your child to stop crying, ask what the matter is as gently as you can. This way, your child will warm up to you better, and become more inclined to communicate their feelings.
“Leave me alone”
Kids are a handful, and yes, it is very possible that your child may be getting on your nerves. However, repeatedly telling your child to leave you alone when you need some time to yourself could damage the way your child thinks about spending time with you. It is likely that they’ll internalize that message and believe that there’s really no point talking to you since you’d brush them off anyway. If this becomes a pattern, it is unlikely that your child will open up to you when they're older.