If you’re a parent, you know how easy it is for words to just slip out of your mouth. Even if you don’t actually mean it, you say a lot of hurtful things to your children when things get too much to handle. Sometimes, you may not even realize how hurtful your words may be. But what you say to your kids can impact their growth and psychological well being. For that reason, you should know which parts of your vocabulary can be toxic, and what you should NEVER say to your children!
1. “Shame on you!”
You may think this is a way to discipline your kids, but it can have opposite effects. Younger children don’t even understand the concept of shame, so instead they just feel your anger but don’t understand why you’re mad. When it comes to older children, a study from the University of Michigan shows that shaming children can actually make them aggressive, especially if they are not used to hearing this sentence.
2. “That’s how I was raised and I turned out fine!”
Things were quite different back then, and psychology developed quite a bit. Today we emphasize the individual, and we know that not every person experiences things the same way. Saying this might mean you care about your own experience more than you care about your children’s needs.
3. “You’re so lazy!”
Even adults get unmotivated sometimes. And when it comes to children, they need to actively learn how to be responsible and that some things just need to be done. Telling them how lazy they are can negatively impact their self-esteem, and it doesn’t help teaching them that responsibility.
4. “You’ll get fat if you eat that!”
Even if you mean well by saying this, maybe to keep them from eating a whole bunch of candy for breakfast, this comment can have some really damaging effects on your kids. A study published in Eating and Weight Disorders journal shows that women who used to hear this phrase as kids were dissatisfied with their weight even as adults. So, this is something that can stick to your child for a long, long time.
5. “I’ll leave you if you don’t behave!”
This phrase might work at the moment, and your kid might calm down when you say this. But long term, they are going to live in fear of waking up one day with their parents gone. They will think they are such bad people that their parents had to run away from them, and they will believe you don’t even love them.
6. “Other children are better than you!”
Comparing your kids to others can damage their self-esteem and make them believe they will never be good enough, even if they give it their best. And if you compare them to their sibling, saying how much their brother or sister is better than them, instead of disciplining your child, you’re going to create an unhealthy relationship between your kids, making them envy and resent the “better” sibling.
7. “I wish you were never born!”
This sentence screams child abuse. Saying this to your child can make them prone to depression, self-harm, or even suicidal thoughts. These words should NEVER be told to any child, not even in the heat of the moment!
Do you sometimes say these things to your kids? Or maybe you listened to these same phrases when you were a kid?
Parents should love and protect their children, and ensure they have everything they need, including emotional support. What you say to your kids can shape their future relationship with you and also how they see themselves and how they turn out in life. That’s a big effect for such small sentences, so think before you speak!
Thank you for reading!
- Andersen, C. H. (2020, September 3). 60 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to Your Kids. Redbook. https://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/advice/g3649/things-you-should-never-say-to-children/
- Parenting, W. (2021, August 4). 8 Things Toxic Parents Say to Their Children. We Do Parenting. https://wedoparenting.com/8-things-toxic-parents-say-to-their-children/
- University of Michigan. (2008, December 22). Shame On Us: Shaming Some Kids Makes Them More Aggressive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 8, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219172143.htm
- Wansink, B., Latimer, L. A., & Pope, L. (2016). “Don’t eat so much:” how parent comments relate to female weight satisfaction. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 22(3), 475–481. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-016-0292-6