Virtually every adult strives to avoid saying things to their children that their parents or other people’s parents said to them. And inevitably, every parent makes mistakes and says things that are damaging to their children. However, it’s important to be mindful that the words you use and the things you tell your children matter, and some things matter a lot more than others. There are some things that you should never say to your child.
“You Need to Lose Weight”
Commenting on your child’s weight, even if the weight is a health concern, is an immensely harmful thing to do. People can’t change their looks, and even with a strict diet and heavy exercise, an overweight child is not going to lose overweight overnight. When children’s parents make negative comments about their appearance, they learn their parents don’t accept them for who they are. Moreover, frequent negative comments can set children up for eating disorders and other body image issues. Avoid this at all costs.
“If You love me, you’ll stop”
Questioning a child’s love for their parent, or in any way playing a martyr with your child, is a dangerous game. This is a manipulative strategy that teaches your child unhealthy communication skills. Perhaps more importantly, though, it teaches your child that the love between a parent and child is negotiable and can be revoked. The natural thought your child will have knowing this is that you can stop loving her, and that if you do something that upsets her, you don’t love her anymore. Never say this to your child.
“My Life would be better without you.”
Most parents would never directly tell their child that life would be better without them. However, statements that leave this impression can still occasionally slip in. Don’t talk about how childbearing made you fat, how your kids make you too busy to do anything else, or how you never have fun anymore. Your child deserves to feel like he or she made your life better, not worse.
You should never tell your child she is bad or call her names. These include liar, tattletale, etc. Rather than labeling your child, talk about the behavior you’d like to see. Name-calling only makes your child more inclined to engage in bad behavior, and makes her feel terrible about herself and resent her. Never do this.
“Get out of my sight.”
Never tell your child to go away, or that you do not want to be around him. This makes him feel unloved and unwanted, and the damage these words cause can last forever.