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As a busy mom, I have come to realize the power of words when it comes to talking to our children. Recently, my 7-year-old son and I had a conversation that made me appreciate the impact our words have on our kids.
He had come back from school looking a bit down, and I asked him what was wrong. He confided in me that his teacher had told him he was “lazy” in class.
As a parent, I knew the impact this word could have on my child’s self-esteem, and it made me realize that there are some words parents should never say to their children, which was some great inspiration for this article!
So, let’s go through some of those damaging things that we, as parents, should avoid saying to our children.
Words parents should never say to their children
- “You’re worthless” – This type of language can have a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem and make them feel like they are not good enough.
- “I wish you were more like your sibling” – Comparing children to their siblings can create resentment and feelings of inadequacy.
- “You always/never do…” – Using absolute terms like “always” or “never” can be hurtful and make a child feel like they can never do anything right.
- “You’re fat/ugly/stupid/etc.” – Insulting a child’s physical appearance or intelligence can have lasting effects on their self-esteem and confidence.
- “I don’t love you” – This type of language is particularly damaging and can create a deep sense of insecurity and hurt in a child.
- “I wish you were never born” – This type of language can deeply wound a child and make them feel unwanted and unloved.
- “You’re a disappointment” – This type of language can make a child feel like they are not living up to their parents’ expectations, leading to feelings of shame and inadequacy.
- “I don’t care” – Dismissing a child’s feelings and concerns can make them feel unheard and invalidated.
- “You’re too sensitive” – Dismissing a child’s emotions and labeling them as “too sensitive” can make them feel like their feelings are not valid, leading to a lack of self-esteem and confidence.
- “You’re just like your [negative trait] parent” – Blaming a child for inheriting negative traits from a parent can create a sense of shame and resentment towards that parent and themselves.
The impact of these words on children
The impact of hurtful words on children can be significant and long-lasting. Here are some ways negative language can affect a child:
- Low self-esteem and negative self-talk – Constantly hearing negative messages about themselves can cause a child to internalize these beliefs and develop a negative self-image.
- Difficulty forming healthy relationships – Children who have been subjected to hurtful language may struggle to trust others and form healthy relationships.
- Increased risk of depression and anxiety – Negative language can create a sense of hopelessness and despair, increasing a child’s risk of developing depression and anxiety.
- Lower academic performance – Children who have low self-esteem and feel unmotivated may struggle to perform well academically.
- Behavioral issues – Children who are constantly belittled or criticized may develop behavioral issues as a way to cope with their negative emotions.
As parents, it’s important to be mindful of the impact our words can have on our children. Using positive reinforcement, showing love and affection, and providing constructive feedback can help our children grow up feeling confident, capable, and loved.
Alternatives to negative language
Using positive language and constructive communication is a powerful tool for parents to help their children develop self-esteem, confidence, and healthy relationships. Here are some alternatives to negative language:
- Use positive reinforcement – Instead of focusing on negative behavior, acknowledge and praise your child’s positive actions and accomplishments. This can help them feel valued and motivated.
- Encourage effort over outcome – Instead of pressuring your child to achieve a certain outcome, encourage them to put in their best effort and focus on the process. This can help them build resilience and a growth mindset.
- Use “I” statements – When giving feedback or addressing behavior, use “I” statements instead of blaming or criticizing. For example, “I feel frustrated when you don’t listen to me” instead of “You never listen to me.”
- Show love and affection – Physical touch, positive affirmations, and spending quality time with your child can help them feel loved and valued.
- Model positive behavior – Children learn by example, so model positive communication and behavior in your own interactions with others.
Using positive language and constructive communication can help foster a healthy, positive relationship between parents and children. By using these alternatives to negative language, parents can help their children develop the skills they need to thrive in life.
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I am a mom of 3 beautiful children and I’ve spent HOURS, DAYS, MONTHS, and YEARS researching this topic and seriously, it is my favorite way to parent.
Way better than what I grew up with – which was A LOT of yelling, spanking and frankly, neglect.
This little guidebook is a golden nugget that you can have for free – and print it out! Put it on the fridge, refer to it often. It’s really a great tool for kids of all ages.
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