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12 Things Parents Should Never Say To Their Kids and What To Say Instead

Being a parent does not come with a manual, despite being the most challenging task one can experience. Raising a child is planting foundations for their future, so your job is to create a confident yet kind person. A big part of parenting is learning how to communicate with your child. Here is a list of things you should never say to your child, which you can share with a nanny, grandparents, and others involved in their lives.

“Stop crying”

If a child is in emotional distress, telling them to switch off their tears sends a message that expressing feelings is not good. Even if their cries don’t make sense to you, an adult, instead of giving an order, try asking what’s wrong in a calm voice. This way, your child is more likely to tell you when something they perceive as bad happens, and regardless of how annoying their tears might be at some point, kids have the right to express their emotions. 

“You’re just like your mother/father!” 

It is evident that a child picked up some traits from one parent and others from another. So, using genetics to make the other parent look bad only teaches your child that it is okay to disrespect parents. For children, their parents are superheroes, so instead of trashing their mom or dad, try with, “I am not happy you did that because…” 

“Why can’t you be more like Jim?”

Comparing siblings or one child to another will not fix any of the issues, but it will create holes in your child’s self-esteem. Each person is unique, and the parents must accept their children unconditionally. Instead of comparing them with others, focus on their strengths and work on making them the best possible version of themselves. 

“No cookies until you finish your veggies” 

This simple sentence is wrong on several levels. First, it teaches children that they only eat healthy foods to get sugary delights. Second, it can lead to kids eating more than they should. Explain to them that they should eat the “yucky” stuff because you want them to be healthy and have more energy to learn and play. After they eat their meals, offer them a treat, but do not make it sound like they had to go through torture only to get to dessert. 

“Don’t be mad at Jim”

If your child feels that their brother or neighbor wronged them, that is fine. Anger is an emotion, and children have to learn to process a variety of them. Instead, try seeing their side, listen to your child, and validate their feelings. Then, you can talk about the power of forgiveness but do not force it upon your child. You can talk about how you and Aunt Carol had a huge fight when you were five and how you made up. Be the role model your child deserves. 

“Calm down”

This does not work for adults, and it certainly won’t work for children. Children throw tantrums, and it is your duty to remain calm. Once they feel better, talk about their emotions and what made them so upset. It seems like a soft approach, but it opens up lines of communication, which you will need more of as your child grows. Besides, would it work if you felt upset and someone told you to calm down? No, it would only make you angrier or more frustrated. 

“My house, my rules”

Technically, it is not your house but a household where you all share responsibilities and take care of each other. By saying, “My house, my rules,” you are bullying your child into submission. Instead, teach them about the chorus and tell them you appreciate their help. 

“You are not a boy/girl”

Boys can’t play with dolls, and girls can’t play with cars, right? Wrong. These rules make no sense, especially for children who are oblivious to things like gender. Letting a child be a child means allowing them to use their imagination without the burden of what is expected of them due to some societal constraints. If someone is making fun of your boy for playing with dolls, tell him that people have different tastes and talk to the adults who are enforcing gender discrimination on someone as innocent as your child. 

“You are so beautiful/smart/perfect” 

These statements put your child at risk of looking down upon their peers. Additionally, they learn that since they are the best, they can do no wrong. Instead, tell them, “Great job,” or “well done.” If your little girl asks you if she’s pretty, of course, you will say yes. But remind her she is also kind, how hard she worked to get an A and compliment her creativity. 

“I do everything for you”

This line will work if you want to burden your child and guilt-trip them into doing something. But this classic is aggressive and could cause your child to withdraw so they don’t feel like a burden to you. If you want them to do something, say that you would appreciate it if they did something for you and make them feel like equal members of the household. 

“That’s too expensive” 

Kids do not understand how money works, so this statement is pointless. If they want a specific toy you can’t afford, be optimistic about it and tell them you found something that would look even better among their other toys. They will learn they can’t always get what they want, but spare their tiny heads from spinning by maintaining a positive outlook. 

“You are such an idiot” 

Regardless of how frustrated you feel, calling your child names will only harm their confidence. The more you repeat these insults, the more likely your relationship will be strained. You wouldn’t feel good if your boss called you a fool or an idiot, so why would you use that language on your child? 

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