7 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids Right Now

There's no way to guarantee that you're going to raise a perfect kid, but there are definitely some things you can do that will ruin your chances. High up on that list are the things you can say that will mess with your kid's mind and put them through psychological stress they won't even know they're going through. They're kids. They're malleable. You've got to be aware that it's easy to harm them ... sometimes without even realizing you're doing it.

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We know that sometimes parenting can feel like barreling through a minefield full of ways to ruin your children for life, and in general, just being mindful of what you're saying is enough to keep them safe. But there are some phrases you should avoid at all costs if you want to save them from psychological complexes that could trap them long-term.

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Here's what you should NEVER say to your kids:

  1. "You're special." When praise becomes too frequent or too exaggerated, it can actually be pretty bad for kids ... especially those with low self-esteem. It turns out all that praise ("That drawing is really beautiful") makes kids feel like they have standards to meet (consistently drawing well), and then they're less likely to challenge themselves and risk making mistakes down the line. Also, this might be obvious, but too much praise makes them more narcissistic.
  2. "Those veggies are good for you." Sorry, Mom! Even as early as age 3, kids have figured out that healthy food often tastes bad -- or not as good as candy, anyway. When you tell them that broccoli is good for them, researchers have found they assume it's gross ... even if it's rather tasty!
  3. "You're smart." Kids who hear how smart they are all the time start to believe it. While that's not bad on its own, scientists say kids who hear it too often start relying on their intelligence instead of effort, and they're less likely to try things they're not naturally good at.

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  4. "You're fat." Girls who reported being called fat by their family members by age 10 were 60 percent more likely to be obese in 10 years. Sixty percent. Telling them they're fat won't make them skinnier ... and it'll probably just unload a heap of psychological and esteem issues onto them, too.
  5. "I'm too busy." On average, working parents spend less than 10 minutes a day talking to their children. And before you say it: No, stay-at-home parents aren't much better, though their number is closer to 30 minutes. This lack of communication affects the way kids' brains are wired and it makes developing deep relationships harder for them later in life. Texting doesn't count -- drop the iPhone and sit and have a conversation with your kids.
  6. "You're the shy/gifted/troublesome one." Kids -- the younger ones especially -- will generally believe most things they hear. Assigning them labels, whether they're good or bad, pigeonholes them from a young age and makes them less comfortable with growing and changing themselves. It also makes them more likely to become what you're telling them they are ... so if you tell her she's a troublemaker, she's going to be more likely to get in trouble.
  7. "I'm on a diet." An overwhelming amount of kids' behavior comes from their parents, and eating habits and body image are no exception. By telling them you're not happy with your body, you're encouraging them to question theirs. Not to mention that growing bodies won't react well to no-carb or low-calorie diets. So if you're watching your waist, keep it to yourself.

Are there any things you avoid saying to your kids at all costs?

 

Image via DigitalFabiani/shutterstock

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