Phrases to avoid when addressing your child

Parents often have to strike a balance between their work and responsibilities at home, which can get quite hectic and overwhelming. Despite the pressure, you have to watch what you say to the little ones. Not only is their developing self esteem fragile, you also want them to listen to you. Here are a few phrases that you should avoid you address your children.

  • Don’t bother me

Despite wanting that occasional break, you shouldn’t routinely tell your child that you’re busy and they shouldn’t bother you. The child will likely think that there’s no need to try talking to you since you’ll just brush him off. If you set that pattern, he’ll internalize that message and carry it along as he grows and won’t talk to you about things that affect him.

Instead of yelling “mommy is busy!” and “leave me alone!” try to calmly tell the child that you have to finish what you are doing then he’ll have you to himself. Ask him to do something else for a few minutes while you complete what you are doing.

When you really need a break, get a babysitter/day care or your partner to help you so you can have some time to yourself to relax.

  • You’re so…

Be careful not to use labels when you are addressing your child. Telling them, they are so mean or lazy or stupid will negatively affect their self esteem. Even positive and neutral labels like you’re so smart can place unnecessarily high expectations on the child if not used carefully. Leave out the words that describe the child’s personality and focus on the specific behavior. For instance if the child acted unfairly, explain to them that they hurt the other person’s feelings instead of telling him he’s so mean.

  • Why can’t you be like…?

Natural as it is for parents to compare kids and use some out as shining examples, don’t let your child hear you comparing him to his friend or sibling. Comparisons are very likely backfire. Constant comparisons will make him think that you’re not happy with him and wish he were different. It won’t make him change his behavior but will likely make him resent you.

  • You know better

The child is going through the learning process which involves trials and errors. When your child has done something you don’t approve of, he may truly have not known better. Telling them they know better can hurt the child just like comparisons do. Instead, it’s better to use phrases like “it would be better if you handle it this way”.

  • Wait until your father gets home

This is a threat just like “do this again and I’ll spank you”. With threats, at some point you must do as you threatened or the threat loses its power. Using this phrase is a poor discipline tactic. Not only do you not know how daddy will act when he comes, postponing punishment may not correct bad behavior. It also passes on the buck and forces the other parent to assume the bad cop role.


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