Words do matter.
As immigrant parents struggle with balancing their local cultures with the Canadian way of life, they sometimes resort to using harsh words on their children.
Parents often underestimate the power of words. The words you utter habitually, and the actions you take as a parent, can and will influence how your children feel about themselves and how they turn out in life.
Bad words can also be seen as bad PR. The rich and the poor are equally guilty. These are 9 things parents should never say to their children:
1 “You are stupid.”
You hear this phrase quite a lot from angry parents. If you want to teach your children to think for themselves, you never want to give them the idea that their ideas are “stupid,” or that they are incapable of thinking for themselves.
Instead, you want to help them build their own internal trust, capabilities and gently steer them to the right direction. Never tell your children they are dumb.
2 “I hate you.”
We all lose our tempers sometimes and fly off the handle. We’re human. But using “hate” language is a No No.
Telling your child you hate him crushes his sense of self, and is very scary for young child, and damaging for an older one. Remember, you are the adult – you have to act like one.
3 “You’re too young to know what you want.”
When you tell your children that they don’t know what they want, you make them doubt themselves, and you undermine their belief in themselves, and they begin to question themselves at every turn.
As an empowering parent, you want to teach them, from a very young age, to honor what they feel and think things through. Teaching is different from condemning.
4 “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Again, great parenting is not about you needing to prove you’re right. In fact, that’s poor parenting. Healthy parenting is all about helping your children address their life’s challenges in a confident, self-empowered way.
If you tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’ll be shamed into being quiet, not expressing their thoughts and opinions, and they’ll begin to see you as someone who isn’t safe to share their inner most doubts and authentic thoughts with.
5 “You’ll never be able to do that.”
Truthfully, you have no idea what your child is capable of achieving in the future, even if you think you do right now.
Some achievers do utterly astounding and amazing things in their lives that their parents and others told them were impossible. Saying, “You’ll never be able to do that” is slapping them down their potential.
Even if you prefer a different career path for your child, discuss all the options and first hear them out.
6 “Why aren’t you more like your brother/sister?”
If you’ve had siblings, you probably know exactly what it feels like to be compared to your brother or sister. It’s bad all the way around. If you compare unfavorably, you feel “less than” and inferior – and that makes you angry, resentful, and feeling unloved and unappreciated.
These comparisons could do with the children’s behavior or academic performance. “Why can’t you get good grades like your brother/sister? Why can’t you behave decently like…”
Do these sound familiar? Watch it.
Don’t compare them as a way to elicit the behavior you want. That creates conflict and tension, and often pits your children against each other in harmful ways.
- “I can’t wait until you leave.”
You hear this a great deal, among parents who feel that their children and teens are exasperating and extremely “difficult.” The parents don’t know how to handle the challenges that the child presents, and they feel intense anger, frustration, and ineptitude and they want that pain to stop.
So they tell the child “I can’t wait until you’re gone.” Think about how that’s perceived and felt from a child’s or teen’s perspective. For their own parent to be fed up and throw his/her hands up and say “I’m done with you,” is deeply saddening for a child, even if they don’t show it.
- “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
There are so many other ways to communicate that your child needs to revise his/her behavior – shaming is not the way to go. Talk about how the behavior hurt someone, or how it’s not appropriate for the situation, or it reveals irresponsibility or a value that you think the child might want to look at more closely. But don’t shame them.