5 things parents should never say to kids

Good parent-child communication is a cornerstone of successful parenting. Although it’s true we best learn life’s greatest lessons through experience – good parenting advice is very helpful. Just like with anything else, knowledge is power when it comes to improving parent-child relationships.

We all want the best for our children, but kids don’t come with manuals and we often say something wrong to them unintentionally, sending them negative messages we’re not even aware of.

These are the 5 most common negative things parents say to their kids and tips on how to improve communication with your child.

5 things you should never say to your kids

  1. You make me proud! Although we say this with the best possible intention, it communicates the wrong message that the child is responsible for how we feel.
    • Parenting advice: Instead you can say “Great for you!”. This way we’re teaching kids about healthy self-confidence and that they should enjoy their own achievements.
  2. Why? Because I said so! Parenting can be overwhelming and it’s common to lose our patience when explaining ourselves. When we feel verbally helpless, we tend to reach the ultimate “argument” of “I’m putting my foot down”. Avoid saying this; it takes away a child’s power which instinctively brings up all the negative, unconstructive feelings in them (anger, spite, stubbornness, etc.) they otherwise wouldn’t have.
    • Parenting advice: To improve parent-child communication, try explaining yourself. EX: If something is bad for them – tell them why and provide some alternative options, if possible. This way, kids learn to understand the power of options and develop their problem solving skills instead of being negative and frustrated from not getting what they want.
  3. Why can’t you be good like your brother/sister? This is one of the worst things a parent can say to child. It creates animosity and rivalry between siblings and unfortunately can leave scars extending throughout their lives.
    • Parenting advice: Try praising a child’s good behavior by strengthening bonds between siblings. EX: Say “Your brother loves you very much and you’re very important to him, he looks up to you, you’re his role model in so many positive things”.
  4. Just wait until your mommy/daddy comes home! This teaches kids all the wrong things: that parents don’t love them equally, parents have unequal power over them, and, eventually, how to manipulate them.
    • Parenting advice: You have to show you love your child but also that you have control over the situation, without help from other parent. It may sound strange to you, but it is less confusing for a child and it provides a sense of stability and security.
  5. Don’t cry, or don’t be a baby! Forcing kids to hide and suppress their true emotions creates many negative, long-term consequences. Suppressed emotions are the cause of many problems when they grow up.
    • Parenting advice: Acknowledge a child’s feelings. Be supportive and encourage kids to talk about how they feel. The more they verbalize emotions, the less those emotions will feel scary and hurtful inside, and eventually will stop being a problem.
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