Parents want the best for their children, but saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can be detrimental to your relationship and harmful to your child’s self-esteem and self-worth. Commonly used phrases can trigger resentment and break trust between the most important relationships a parent has – with their child. Here are a few phrases parents should never say to their kids.
“Are you sure you need to eat that cookie?”
While you may have good intentions and want your child to be fit, there are better ways to model healthy eating habits. When a parent asks if the child really needs a second slice of cake or another cookie, negative body image is emphasized. Your child may have not been aware of his or her body image before, but now it’s shining in a negative light.
Keep the jabs to yourself and gather the family together for an evening walk post-dinner or time in the yard tossing the football. Make sure you model the kind of behaviour you’d like to see from your child. Be careful to walk the walk yourself, rather than eating junk food after every meal.
“Why aren’t you more like your brother or sister?”
Want to pit siblings against one another, try this phrase on for size. Sibling rivalry is fueled when parents compare or fit their children into categories. Saying things like, “you aren’t as athletic as your brother” or, “she’s the smart one, I guess” does nothing but cause hurt and resentment. Parents must encourage each of their children as individuals, no matter what the pursuits. Do not fit your child into a box that wasn’t meant for them in the first place.
“You never do this” or “You never do that”
While it may be tempting to shout out a pattern you see in your child’s behavior, it’s not wise. Telling your child she always runs late or never puts her clothes in the hamper isn’t the best method for creating a confident and independent child. Instead, you are qualifying your child’s behavior with a label that may stick for life. You are telling them that they will always be late. Instead, try helping them find a method that corrects the behavior or makes is less likely to occur. Work as a team – parent and child.
“You’re the best at…”
Telling your child that he or she is the best artist or soccer player on the team seems positive and encouraging but can do as much harm, or more, because the statements limit. You are telling your child they are already the best – why try harder? When your child begins to struggle at something they may feel they are letting you down and begin beating themselves up because they are not the best. Rather than telling them they are the best, focus on their hard work and diligence. Compliment their work and how they made their success happen.