Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

3 Things to Stop Saying to your Kids in 2012

Parenthood—it's something that's perfected over time and is learned through trial and error. But too many errors can ultimately cause damage to your child's self-esteem, especially when it comes to the way we speak to our kids. To make sure that you don’t say these top three phrases that child experts and psychologists say can ultimately do harm to your child, continue reading below.

1. "What do you know? You're just a child"

One of the first things that will come to your child's mind when hearing this phrase when he or she answers something incorrectly or messes something up is that he or she is incompetent. A child's mind is growing and developing so even when he or she may think they know everything, they really don't. But it's your responsibility to nurture their minds and teach them—don't scold or undermine your child because he or she is, well, a child.

2. "Because I said so"

All too often these 4-letter words are uttered to abruptly end a conversation with your child. The idea behind it is simple: most parents feel that as head of the household they shouldn’t have to succumb to providing explanations to validate why their child can't go to the park or why it's not ok to eat chocolate for dinner. They should just do as they are told. But unfortunately what will happen over time is that your child will think that what he or she has to say holds no weight and eventually your child may lose motivation to even try to ask you for anything—especially when it really matters.

This is not to say that you should never tell your child no, on the contrary you are the authority figure and your child should play by your rules. But as a parent it's your responsibility to discuss why those rules are instilled in the first place. So take some time to explain yourself, even if you are too tired or frustrated to do so. Chances are that if your child learns why it's so dangerous to play at the park at 8 p.m., he or she will never ask you to do it again (or will at least no why he/she can't).

3."What were you thinking?"

Lastly, this phrase, which is all too often said when a parent gets upset with his/her child, can really do some major damage to your child's self-esteem. This is because while it's understandable that as a parent you're upset and you may honestly want to know what was racing through your child's head when they decided to take the car out for spin without your permission, for example, the truth is that you're not going to get the answer you're looking for—you'll be lucky enough to get an "I don't know." This sort of response can frustrate some parents even further and fly them off the hinges—not to mention you'll make your child feel like he or she is a mindless idiot in the process. As a parent you have to foresee that your child is going to screw up every now and then, after all you made mistakes as a kid too. Not thinking at times and being careless is just part of the kid-gig. So instead of taking a cheap shot at your child's intelligence which can give them self esteem issues, have your child explain him or herself from start to finish. Feel free to discipline your child but only after hearing him/her out first.

This guest post was contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email: blauren99(at)

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