As parents, we want the best for our kids. Yet, we sometimes get angry, impatient or annoyed with our little ones for various reasons. I’m not going to argue if the reasons are right are wrong, it all depends on the situation you are in at that moment. But irrespective of what our circumstances are, I believe there are certain things you must never say to your kids.
You are good for nothing (Demoralising)
Kids are clumsy, they spill, they break, they drop, but they are learning. Just because they do not have a careful hand, don’t brand them as ‘good for nothing.’ They might be slow learners at school or not be competitive enough at sports, but just because they haven’t shined yet, don’t brand them as ‘good for nothing.’ Being demoralised like this will make them scared to take up any assignment or task.
Instead, teach them the correct way to do things. Help them clean up when they make a mess. Be patient when they are slow to learn. That’s the way they are going to learn. Children who learn from their mistakes not only grow up to be responsible adults but also do not fear taking risks.
Don’t you dare…or else…(Threatening)
Kids can get annoying sometimes and it gets difficult to get them to listen to you. They might throw a tantrum, but don’t lose your temper. Don’t threaten to send them away to the boarding school or to somewhere you know they fear. Don’t threaten them with taking away their prized possessions. For you, it’s an empty threat, but it can leave kids fearful and bruised. You don't want your kid to grow up into a meek and timid adult, do you?
A cousin who used to threaten her daughter like that when she was younger, has now grown into a tween who cries herself sick if she cannot find her mother for a moment when in a gathering.
You are too young for this (Undermining)
We do fear for our kids’ safety and we would never want to endanger them with risky activities. By all means, be guarded but give them the freedom to explore and learn. Don’t inundate them with too many instructions and don’t keep telling them that they are too young for this and that. Be their guide and help them do what they set out to do.
My little one loves to cook and chop. He was just six when he held the knife for the first time. I was scared as hell, I didn’t want him to accidentally chop his finger. But I didn’t want to discourage him too, so I let him help me with the chopping and cleaning and cooking. Of course, all under my hawk eye. I brought him safety equipment like plastic knives so that he doesn’t injure himself, but I didn’t want to tell him that he’s too young to do something.
I hate you (Dissociating)
This is one of the worst things you can ever, ever, ever, say to your child. Think of how you’d feel if someone you loved the most said something like that to you. Well, those feelings are multiplied manifold for a child. No matter what your child has done, never tell them that you hate them. It erodes their self-confidence, makes them feel lonely and depressed, it makes them feel dissociated from you. You don’t want to scar your child for life, do you? Even though that time will pass, they will carry the bitterness a long way into their adulthood.
You are a bad person (guilt tripping)
No child should ever be told that they are bad. Don’t leave the child feeling guilty. People are never bad, only their actions are. And when it comes to kids, they have no idea about the repercussions of their actions. They don’t do things knowingly, unlike adults. Putting them in a guilty spot is harsh. They surely don’t deserve it.
Kids are like wet clay. It is up to us to make impressions that they will cherish for a lifetime, not those that will scar them for life. Don’t stop them from questioning. The questions might be irritating, but the little one is learning the hows and whys. You keep dodging their questions and soon they will stop asking. Don’t let this be a cause of regret later.