Parenting is no easy job. And the most important — yet difficult part of parenting is learning to talk to your child. Children take everything literally and the way you talk to them goes a long way in building their personality.
As a parent, however, while in the middle of juggling tasks, you might end up reacting to your child, at times even speaking out unintentional words.
Unfortunately, a child’s mind is not developed enough to understand that these were unintentional and as a result, it cripples their little minds.
But do not worry. We’ve all been through this.
And from all the experiences and research that we did, one thing is clear — the only way we can avoid this from happening is, by carefully monitoring what we speak to and in front of our children.
Which is easier said than done. But with a little bit of effort and strong will, we can make a better of us and minimize the mishaps.
So here are the 10 things that you should definitely refrain from saying to your child.
1. ‘You are a bad boy/girl’
Never feed your child with negative thoughts, it kills his/her self-esteem.
Kids are innocent and believe in goodness. Always tell them to be good, happy, and positive.
Explain to them that some words or actions are bad and might hurt or harm somebody. But don’t tell them that it makes them a bad boy/girl.
In fact, give them a positive comment like “you are the best/cutest/brightest child in the world”. Chances are that they would never want to let you down again.
Teach them what is right and wrong, and to value good things over bad.
2. ‘Why can’t you be like your brother/sister?’
Never compare your children with their brother/sister. It makes them jealous. They will feel left out. It drives the feeling of failure in your kids and develops dislike between siblings.
3. A straight ‘NO’
A straight ‘no’ is too harsh for your little prince/princess.
If kids hear ‘no’ all the time, they lose confidence and faith in their parents. If you don’t approve of your child’s action, try giving options.
For example, instead of saying “No shouting,” try “Talk softly, please.”
Instead of “Don’t play in the house,” tell him/her “Why don’t you call your friends to the park and play.”
PRO TIP: Want to engage your child creatively and independently at home? Take a look at Flintobox! Each box is based on a different theme and introduces children to a variety of concepts through fun skill-building activities. For more information on Flintobox activities, click here >
4. ‘You can’t do this!’
Never shake your child’s self-confidence.
There will be times when children would want to do something that you know they won’t be able to do. Just remember to give them a chance as long as it doesn’t harm them.
When my son thinks he can lift a heavy chair, instead of ‘you can’t do it,’ I tell him, ‘try if you can do it or I will help you,’ or ‘You might hurt yourself in this attempt. So let me do it for you.’ The best alternative, however, is ‘Let’s do it together!’
Kids learn through trial and error. However they’ll never try anything new, if you’ve made them afraid to try.
5. ‘Don’t talk to me’
Never ban the channel of communication between you and your child.
Never ask children to stop talking or arguing. Let them question and share their opinion freely. Rather talk to them if you want them to stick to your advice.
Tell them what they are supposed to do and why it’s important.
Convince them with your words, tone, and expressions. Yes, keep talking and listening till they buy your point.
When my child doesn’t buy my point, instead of asking him not to argue, I make a sad face and say ‘Okay, do whatever you like, but I am upset.’
This may start the conversation again and you have a chance to bargain or win the argument. Try arriving on a win-win situation.
RELATED: 5 Golden Rules For Good Parenting
6. ‘Girls/Boys don’t do that’
A child is a child, so let him/her be. Don’t create gender-biased rules.
Let kids decide for themselves — whether to be more like a girl or a boy when they grow up. Don’t stop them from exploring things they may be curious about or good at.
When my son was three years old, I bought him a kitchen set and was prepared to see people surprised. Who said boys shouldn’t cook?
7. ‘Leave me alone!’
You are everything to your kid.
Never say you will leave him/her alone, or demand to be left alone.
Never say things that will hurt children to an extent that they feel they aren’t loved or wanted.
It’s a big no-no even if you feel like pulling out your hair, or just want to be alone.
Talk of kids teaching us patience? Yeah!
8. ‘Let Daddy come and I will tell…’
This common mistake by parents is a double whammy. It instils anxiety and fear in your child — especially of the person who you’re going to tell about whatever happened, and it shows you’re incapable of handling your child or the issue.
Also, don’t make it an everyday threat. There are things your kid may do unintentionally, or irresponsibly. You may want to tell your spouse about it.
In which case, ask your kid, “Do you want to tell dad, or should I explain it to him and give the reason?” Let your child take ownership of his/her mistakes and actions, but do so respectfully.
9. ‘No one wants a kid like you’
A ‘problem child’ doesn’t exist by its own, right? We are the ones to blame if kids become problematic.
They are a reflection of the parents.
They have learnt everything from their parents, family, friends, and surroundings.
So if you think your child isn’t behaving properly, remember, he/she didn’t choose to be in the world that surrounds.
You chose that world!
10. ‘You are too big to do this!’
Don’t deprive your kid of childhood.
Kids will grow up, what’s the hurry? Instead, be like them and see if it makes them more comfortable and happy.
So when my 8-year-old wants to jump on the bed because India won a cricket match, what do I do? I start jumping too, and love to see him happier!
As a parent, it’s our responsibility to make them happy, secure, and confident to face the world.
What other things do you think a parent should never say to a child? Do share them with us in the comments below. If you found this article useful, do share this with other parents.
Article originally published on – May 27, 2015, updated on – February 13, 2020