Never Say These 11 Things to Your Child

never say to child

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Whether you forgot to pick your kid up from school or accidentally left their snack on the counter, you’re going to make parenting mistakes.

What we say to our kids can have a huge impact on their mental health, self confidence, and perception of the world. Try not to say these 11 things to your children (even when you’re frustrated) to help them develop into confident, self-assured individuals.

  1. “You’re OK”

You’ve watched your kid trip over the box of Legos for the tenth time today (which you told them to clean up an hour ago), and now they’re crying. While it’s hard to show patience, resist telling them that they’re OK. 

Even though they’ll be fine in a minute, they don’t feel OK right now. Dismissing their feelings sends the message that their emotions can’t be trusted.

2. “Grow up”

Once your kids can walk and talk, it’s tempting to treat them like adults. Even though they may understand you as well as an adult, they’re still immature. They don’t understand the consequences of their actions or how to take care of themselves. Someday, you’ll wish they were little again—don’t wish away their childhood before it’s appropriate.

3. “Great job”

No, we’re not saying that congratulating your kid is inherently bad. But try to avoid lavishing them with praise over every minor achievement. This tells them that your affirmation (or lack of it) is how they should gauge a job well done. Instead, ask them how their achievement made them feel. This helps your child develop internal motivation.

4. “You’re supposed to be the big brother/sister”

Once your second child is born, your first feels…old! But don’t lose sight of the fact that they’re still a little one, too. Avoid putting unrealistic expectations on them—they’re just a kid, after all!

5. “Let me do it”

It can be frustrating when your child is putting on their shoes so, so slowly to step in and take over. Taking control tells them you don’t think they can do it alone. Let your child have some independence—it will develop their self confidence and help them to gain new skills.

6. “You’re just like your father”

You might have a complicated relationship with your child’s father, but don’t project that onto your child. Treat them as a unique person—don’t make them carry the burden of your relationship history. 

7. “You’ll always be my baby”

What you probably mean is “I’ll always love you like I do right now.” Say that. Like it or not, your babies are going to grow up. Embrace the person they are becoming instead of treating them like their childhood self forever.

8. “Stop crying”

Infants and toddlers don’t have words to express their emotions, so crying is how they show you they’re unhappy, hungry, or harboring any number of other complicated feelings. 

Your children can feel as much as you, even when they can’t express it. Don’t dismiss their emotions. Everyone feels sad from time to time, and by telling them to stop crying you’re telling them it’s not OK to be sad. 

9. “You can do anything”

You might really believe this—we’re all prone to have blinders on when our kids are involved. But try and support your kids in things they actually enjoy or show true talent for. For some kids, telling them they can do anything can cause anxiety. Your children rely upon you to help guide them—pay attention to their natural aptitude, and encourage them in it.

10. “I don’t believe you”

Sure, kids lie—but they tell the truth, too. Don’t make your kids feel like you’re always suspicious of them. They’re going to mess up, they’re kids! Showing them they are accepted and loved, even when they make mistakes, will help them to feel more comfortable being honest with you when they mess up in the future.

11. “Don’t be scared”

What are you afraid of? If you answer “nothing,” you’re lying. Your kids’ fears might seem silly to you, but to them, they’re very real. If someone told you to just get over your fear of heights or to stop being scared of spiders, would you? Probably not. So don’t expect your kids to become brave on command, either.

If you’ve said any of the things on this list, take a deep breath and give yourself some grace. It’s OK to be an imperfect parent. By mindfully approaching frustrating situations in the future, you can avoid saying things you regret.

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