Parents nowadays seem to live a rather harried life. With demanding jobs, hectic schedules and the onus to run the household like clockwork, it is not surprising that tempers run short and sometimes parents lose their cool.
It is often the young children who have to bear the brunt of this anger and stress but as parents, we must realize that our words have a very profound effect on our children. Angry words or cruel remarks spoken thoughtlessly can hurt the child emotionally and scar him psychologically for life.
Sometimes, phrases that we commonly use can be perceived as threats or punishments. Children who are raised in such environment are often unhappy, shy, timid and lack self confidence.
Here are some things that you should avoid saying to your children.
If you keep on eating like this you will be fat and no one will love you. This statement is wrong on so many levels. Telling a young child that he will be fat and unloved can lead to eating disorders, depression and sense of worthlessness. If your child has weight issues, it’s better to offer healthy food, get consultation from nutritionist and make sure that he gets plenty of exercise. Don’t keep junk food in the house and do show your love and support all the time. Search for solutions instead of criticizing your child’s appearance all the time.
You are stupid/lazy. Imagine the scenario. You are in a hurry and your child is having trouble with his laces or buttons. In your impatience you keep yelling at the child to hurry up or call him stupid or lazy. This will put more pressure on the child and cause him a lot of stress. Try to say, “Let’s see who gets ready first, or “Please help Mummy to get in the car by 7:45 AM.” Make a game out of it and help him over the difficult part. Most children love to please their parents. so don’t be hard on them.
Just wait till your Dad/Mom comes home. This statement shows the child two things. You are not in charge of the situation and the other partner who is about to come home is an ogre. He will learn not to respect one parent and to fear the other one. It is a complete lose-lose situation. Handle the situation to the best of your ability. If there is a serious issue or something you cannot handle alone, discuss the matter with your partner first and then talk to the child together. It gives children a sense of protection and safety when he sees that both the parents are on the same page regarding discipline and other issues.
Don’t be a cry baby. Some people think that words like these make children strong and tough. I disagree. No matter what the age, children need love, re-assurance, comfort and some display of concern when they are hurt, being bullied or facing some problem. Telling them to “toughen up” or “be a man” will make them unsympathetic to other people. The trick is just to show the right level of concern and assistance.
Don’t yell don’t all the time. The use of this word may seem inevitable where children are concerned. Don’t run, don’t make a mess, don’t tease your sister, don’t make a noise, don’t run on the stairs, don’t touch my stuff and so on. Psychologists say that the word “don’t” does not offer the child any alternative. It either makes them unsure or rebellious. It is better to put your request in a positive, assertive manner instead.
“Please pick up your toys from the floor” is better than saying “Don’t make a mess.” “The baby is sleeping. Let’s see if you can play quietly” will have more impact on the child than “Don’t make noise.”
Little things can have a big impact and if you want to raise a happy, confident child then ditch the words that can hurt his soul.