Parenting does not come with a manual, even though it is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. We as parents often make mistakes and that’s OK. One of the toughest jobs as a parent is to learn how to talk to the child. An unintentional remark can seriously affect their mindset, views and perceptions of themselves and the world.
Here are some things I feel we should never say to a child to inculcate a positive, healthy, warm relationship
- ‘STOP CRYING’ : who amongst us can truthfully say that they have never said this to their child. When you are crying and someone says this to you, does it make you stop or make you feel even worse and angry. Encourage them to express their emotions and not bottle them up. Much to their parents frustration children’s way to do so is by crying and yelling, but do not discredit their feelings, rather teach them to express them in a calmer way. And kids love to be comforted and hugged, especially when they are crying.
- ‘YOU DON’T FEEL THAT WAY’ : kids feelings are very bit as valid as those of adults, even if they might seem irrational and exaggerated to us. Do not dismiss their feelings and thoughts, even if you do not agree with them. Try to understand what they might be feeling, even if it’s expression seems dramatic.
- ‘YOU ARE FAT OR GETTING FAT’ :this is a major no as it makes the children too aware of their bodies and losing weight. Children are extremely vulnerable, and body image is a very personal and sensitive thing and needs to be discussed in a positive light. Negative talk can lead to serious emotional issues including eating disorders.
- ‘THAT IS ONLY FOR BOYS/GIRLS ‘:limiting boys and girls to what they can or cannot do or feel on the basis of their gender, tells them that there are certain ways boys can behave and other ways girls behave, and if they do not comply it’s wrong. This puts too many restrictions, and makes children believe in traditional. stereotypical gender roles.
- BEHAVE LIKE A BIG GIRL/BOY’ : let children be children. Emotional maturity comes with age, and should not be forced on any child. Do not put pressure on them to behave in a manner beyond their age and ability.
- ‘WHY ARE YOU NOT MORE LIKE YOUR SIBLING’ : sibling rivalry exists in most houses. But parents should make efforts not to foster this unhealthy competition and jealousy among siblings. Never, never compare your kids and try to appreciate their unique skills and talents.
- ‘I AM DISAPPOINTED OR I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU’ :sometimes we say very harsh words in the heat of the moment without realising that the child will take them at face value and will actually believe them. Take a deep breath, and try to convey your message in a less forceful and assertive manner.
- ‘YOU ARE PERFECT / MOST BEAUTIFUL’ : praising a child can be tricky, you want them to have a positive self image, yet not be too focused on looks and beauty. Self worth should not be based on how they look. Similarly, there should be no pressure to be perfect all the time. It’s okay to make mistakes, have fun, just be a child.
- ‘BECAUSE I SAID SO’ OR ‘BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT AND YOU ARE A CHILD’ :all of us are guilty of using this cliche. This tone has been used by all generations of parents to show their authority and power, but it is not the right way to discipline children. It makes them feel that their thoughts and feelings are not valid and valuable. Try to explain to them your reasons even if it might be tiresome.
- ‘WAIT UNTIL YOUR FATHER COMES HOME’ : this is used by a lot of mothers to make the child behave, by instilling fear for the father’s anger. Don’t paint him as the villain, don’t make your kids fear their father. Be united in your approach to instill discipline.
- ‘DON’T BE A WIMP/CRY BABY’ :all of us want our kids to be strong, fearless, smart but mocking them not be a wimp will not achieve that. We need to boost their confidence and applauding their strengths
- ‘YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO THINK/KNOW ABOUT THIS ‘:it is not always easy to answer children’s never ending questions but by shutting them up, we are undermining their inquisitiveness and curiosity and giving them the message not to ask questions from us or ask at all. One of the biggest traits comprising intelligence is curiosity, nurture it.
These are some of the things I thought of that should not be said to children, please share your experiences and thoughts.