Parenting Tips: Phrases You Should Never Tell Your Child

When speaking to your child, there are some key phrases you should never use as a parent.

Phrases You Should Never Tell Your Child

Sometimes we focus so much on what we should be telling our children that we overlook the fact that some things we tell our children are not particularly helpful in building their self-esteem or teaching them about discipline and values. Here are some phrases you may want to avoid when speaking to your child.

* "You can't..." - No child wants to be told they cannot do a certain thing or feel as if they are limited. For example, if your child wants to go to the lake with his friends but does not know how to swim, avoid saying something like, "I would let you go, but you can't swim." Instead, say something productive like "I would love to let you go, but I would be very worried about your safety since you haven't learned to swim yet." This tells your child that, while they may not know how to swim currently, you have no doubt that they are capable of doing so. The word "can't" should be stricken from the English language. It has such negative implications of being unable or impossible to do something. Your child should learn from a young age that anything is possible.

* "Because I said so..." - How many of us heard this as an answer to almost any request we had for our parents? Better yet, how many of us have heard this same dreaded phrase escape our lips when talking to our own children? It is a phrase we say out of frustration when we don't feel like explaining the why or why not of a request. For example, let's say your child asks if he can have a candy bar before bed. You say no and he asks why. While it is tempting to utter the "Because I said so" phrase, take a few moments to explain rationally why having a candy bar before bed is not rational. Let him know that it will keep him awake because the candy bar contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. If you explain to your child why you are not allowing him to do a certain thing, he will see that there is, indeed, a rational explanation and will think twice before every requesting this again.

* "Why can't you be more like..." - If you want to strike down your child's self-esteem in an instant, this phrase is the way to do it. If your child has been making low grades in school, while his brother or sister has been making A's, never say anything along the lines of, "Why can't you be more like your sister?" Comparing your child to somebody else not only makes your child feel less valuable but they may also feel they are a disappointment in your eyes. How would you like it if your child asked you why you couldn't be more like his friend's mother? This would probably hit a sore spot for you, so do not do the same to your child.

* "Don't make me..." - When attempting to discipline your child, refrain from making idle threats. If your child is acting up in the car while on the way to the mall and you want to discipline him, do not say something like, "Don't make me turn this car around and drive you back home," unless you are willing to do just that. If your child still acts up and you do not follow through with this threat, your child will begin to see through your future threats and realize that your attempts at discipline are just that: attempts. Never undermine your own authority by making a threat like, "Don't make me tell your mother/father about what you did." Your child will wonder who the true authority figure is and may begin to act up around the parent he feels is less of the disciplinarian.

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