Everything we say to our kids is shaping them. Everything. No pressure, parents, we are only raising little beings who will go on to live their own lives without us to save the day when a tiny bump just needs a kiss to be forgotten. Which means our words matter, really matter. And the words we choose can help or hurt them. So I came up with a list of things we should stop saying to our kids in the name of raising the best and most caring and well-rounded children who can grow up to be the best and most caring and well-rounded adults.
Don't worry -- you've not a green monster if you've said these things to your kids. I've been guilty of saying just about all of these (and there have been other moments of weakness where I've said worse). But I'm working on it because it's kind of a big deal.
1. "Hurry up." I personally hate when I'm told to hurry up. It makes me all angsty and flustered and I end up forgetting something and then I'm annoyed. Being rushed just puts me in a bad mood. So I'm trying not to do the same to my kids. So what if we are late for preschool because my son has decided he wants to tie his own shoes for once. I don't want to make them feel like they have to rush through everything, and they don't need that added anxiety.
2. "No!"* No is just so negative. And while we shouldn't just say yes to everything, perhaps we can limit the no so it's not as if kids were just hearing no no no no no no no all the time -- that's not helpful. *Saying no is okay, but overusing it may not be the best idea.
3. "That's wrong." Yikes. A little harsh. And while we can't be tiptoeing around our kids because that isn't useful for them, we should instead explain in a helpful way. For example, say you are working with them on writing their name and they write the "e" upside down. Tell them that the "e" is upside down instead of just saying "that's wrong." Then work with them on getting it right.
4. "Don't cry." Sometimes we all need a cry. Telling your child not to cry negates their feelings. But I get it -- we don't want our little ones to cry! Instead try "what can we do to make you feel better?"
5. "It's not a big deal." This also negates their feelings. Especially for the little kids, the little things are a big deal. It's how they learn to deal with the bigger things as they get older.
6. "Wait until your father finds out." This could make them either scared of dad or not worried about what you think. Nobody wants that.
7. "Why did you do that?" Younger kids cannot understand this question and it could cause them to get frustrated. Instead, for example, if your child pushed another child, we should ask if they acted out because something upset them and go from there.
8. "Because I said so." I hear my own mother's voice when anyone says that sentence. And while I turned out fine (generally speaking) and my mom said this to me a lot, it's kind of a cop-out. (Sorry, mom! You're awesome.) We want our kids to have reasons and understand actions and reactions, so we have to teach by example. With reasons.
Do you have any others to add to the list? What do you think?
Image via sboneham/Flickr