Parenting is hard. The choices you make with your children will shape the people they become. It’s a fact of life that our childhood and upbringing can shape our future, so parents have a huge amount of responsibility. With that said, here are 8 phrases that moms and dads should never say to their kids.
1. “Don’t disappoint me.”
This may seem like a good way to get your kids to behave properly, but phrases like this one have way more power than you realize. Words like “disappoint” or “shame” can have a huge impact on a child’s mind, making them worry and stress about not only letting you down, but letting everyone else down. Kids who hear this phrase often can develop a lot of self-esteem issues.
2. “I promise we will do ‘X’ this year.”
Promises are important, especially to kids. We grow up believing that a ‘promise’ is almost a sacred vow, something that can never be broken. So, when you promise your kids something, you need to be 100% sure that you can keep that promise. It’s very easy to make claims that you can’t necessarily stick to. Unless you know for a fact that the promise will come true, just don’t use that word. And if you do have to break a promise, be sure to sit down with the child and explain why it happened.
3. “When I was your age…”
Times change. It’s easy for older people to look at younger generations and judge them through comparisons with their own experiences, but it’s not a smart thing to do. Growing up is different for everyone and we all have to face problems in our own way. If you constantly tell your kids how everything was so easy for you or how you never had the same worries as them, you’re just bringing them down. Self-esteem problems and a lack of confidence can easily develop as a result of this behavior.
4. “Why aren’t you as good as the other kids?”
This is the same basic idea. Comparing your child to others doesn’t solve anything. Everyone is different. Your child is unique and there’s no reason whatsoever to hurt their feelings by saying they’re not as good or smart or well-behaved as the others. If anything, this will make them resent other people and become closed off from society. The child will also become desperate for validation and this can lead to a lot of issues as well.
5. “Eat your vegetables if you want to grow up strong.”
We’ve all heard something like this. It’s a classic parenting trick to encourage kids to finish their dinner or eat foods that they don’t really like. But forcing kids to eat is, once again, not a smart plan. It can cause eating disorders and even weight gain, with some kids eventually believing that they need to eat as much as possible in order to become a grown-up. If you want to encourage your kids to eat certain foods, explain their health benefits or try cooking them in different ways to make the whole thing more fun.
6. “You’re just like your father/mother.”
Often used in a playful way, this phrase can be harmful in certain situations. If you use this phrase in a negative light, it can make the child doubt themselves and their parents. They can start to become self-conscious about certain traits or habits they have developed, and thereby lose confidence and self-esteem.
7. “I don’t want to hear another peep out of you.”
Kids can get annoying sometimes and you, as a parent, might just want them to sit still and be quiet, but basically telling your child to shut up is not a good method. Not only does it frighten the child, but it can also limit expression and conversation, as well as giving the impression that you wish that your son or daughter would simply disappear for a while. Kids can take this sort of thing very badly as they don’t understand the same set of social rules and skills that you have developed over time. If you need your kids to quieten down, try to phrase it in a warmer way.
8. “If you do ‘X’, I’ll love you forever.”
Kids will love you forever no matter what, and they usually believe that their parents will do the same. So, by using a phrase like this, you are giving the impression that your love is a bargaining tool or something to be won, rather than the unconditional force it needs to be. Kids who hear this phrase will start to seek validation however they can and, in later life, will be more concerned with making other people happy than worrying about themselves.