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09th Jul 2021

6 common phrases experts say are “Psychologically Damaging” to our kids

Kat O'Connor

It’s time to watch your language!

The language we use around our kids is something we’re all wary of. We make sure not to curse and instead say ‘sugar’ even when we’ve burned the dinner, stubbed our toe, and forgotten to cancel the newspaper subscription we never have time to read.

We taught them how to say please and thank you and ensured they were educated about slurs and slang that isn’t welcome in our society, but experts are now warning parents that some phrases we use every day could be damaging our children.

According to HuffPost, there are multiple phrases in our vocabulary that are actually causing more harm than good.

It’s important to note that no parent ever means any harm in saying these phrases. They’re part of our everyday language and we definitely don’t want to make the kids feel worse by using them. Educating ourselves about language and making an active effort to communicate with our children in a healthy way is the best thing we can do.

We’re all learning as we go along and there’s no harm in that.

If we make an active effort to avoid the below phrases then we’re making progress. Nobody’s perfect, right?

According to HuffPost, one of the most damaging things we can do is to label our kids. Labels can be extremely damaging, especially when it comes to the child’s relationship with you. Even using positive ones like ‘you’re smart’ can be damaging. An expert told HuffPost, “When we say ‘you’re smart’ or ‘you’re athletic,’ we’re telling our child, ‘The only reason you did well on that test is because you were born brainy,’ or, ‘You wouldn’t have made that goal if it weren’t for your natural ability.’ What’s more, if our child bombs the test next time, they’ll be left confused and discouraged, questioning their own ability. If they’re so smart, why did they fail?”

Another thing we tend to do is undermine their problems. Say they had a fight with their best friend and they’re extremely upset over it, a lot of parents tend to say, “It’s not a big deal,” to help them feel better, but that doesn’t really help at all. Dismissing their emotions and their problems isn’t the way to go. Sitting down and listening to them is a better idea.

“These little problems — and the emotions that come with them — are actually huge to our kids,” said Amy McCready. The last thing any of us wants to do is diminish our kids’ feelings so listening to their dramas that seem silly to adults is the way forward.

positive parenting

Claiming your kid “always or never does” something prevents you from teaching them. Complaining to your son about how he “never attends his after-school club anymore” stops you from learning about what’s going on in his world. Question their actions rather than calling them out. You’ll learn far more that way.

Being told that “you should know better” is something that hurts a lot. We’ve all been there as kids and it stings. After all, isn’t this the time when they’re learning and developing more than ever? Even if they do mess up, berating them for it isn’t going to make things any better. This saying can actually make your child feel shame and guilt, so why not figure out the situation together rather than focusing on the mistake?

There’s always a solution to the errors they make. Plus, they’re only human.

Many of us remember the moments when our own parents have sighed dramatically and muttered, “just let me do it” when we failed to help out with dinner or with the housework. This phrase can actually make your kid feel inadequate because it can sound like you don’t believe in them, even if you do.

We can all lose our patience and snap, but encouragement and patience are key here. “You’re telling your child, ‘You’re not capable of this, so I need to get involved.’ This is both discouraging and really frustrating,” the expert shared.

One phrase that seriously needs to be archived is “you make me sad when…” 

“When kids feel like they get to decide if you’re happy, sad or enraged, they may happily take the opportunity to continue to push your buttons down the road and even when they’re out of your house, this mindset can damage future relationships and set the stage for them to manipulate others to get what they want,” Amy McCready told HuffPost.

Parenting is no easy feat. Everybody makes mistakes and has those disastrous days, but we are all only trying our best.

There’s always room for improvement, but be kind to yourselves too.