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What Not to Say to Your Kids: 9 No-Nos (page 2)

What Not to Say to Your Kids: 9 No-Nos

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Updated on Aug 19, 2013

"Stop acting like a baby." When your 5-year-old goes into tantrum-mode at the grocery store, it's tempting to throw his yearning to be a "big boy" in his face in an effort to make him stop. Ridiculing or shaming him into better behavior isn't okay.

  • Instead: School psychologist Tina Feigal has a better idea. "If the child is regressing, look for a stressor that may be the cause and try to alleviate it. Don't blame the child, as he or she is not doing this on purpose."

"I wish you were more like your brother." "The comment I have heard most frequently that seems to haunt adults from childhood is a reference to not being wanted," reveals Julie Gurner, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult psychopathology.

  • Instead: Make sure your child knows that he's loved as an individual. Even if he's acting out or misbehaving, treat the issues at hand; don't show favoritism by wishing away the qualities that make him unique.

"I'm disappointed in you." Hearing these words can be absolutely devastating to the fragile confidence of a child. Children want nothing more than the approval of their parents or the acknowledgment of a job well done.

  • Instead: Clinical psychologist Jennifer Powell-Lunder suggests another method for expressing disappointment: "Instead try: 'I am disappointed with the choice you made' or, 'You usually make better choices; what do you think happened here?'" It shows that while you're disappointed in poor behavior, you still love your child unconditionally.

"You're a bad boy!" When your little one acts out, this label can tumble out of your mouth without you even realizing it. "Their behavior might be bad, or the choice they made was bad, but your child is not bad. You need to understand the difference, and so does your child," warns marriage and family therapist Lori Freson. "I can guarantee you is that if your child believes he is actually bad, his behavior will be even worse."

  • Instead: Treat the behavior, not your child on the whole. If he has a tantrum at the library, tell him that being noisy in the library isn't a good choice, not that he's inherently bad for making a fuss.

Look, there's no perfect parent in the entire world who doesn't lose her cool every now and again. And while it's totally fine to feel annoyed, angry, tired, disappointed or upset with your child, the important thing is that you know what not to say to your kids. Of course, even if you do make a mistake, an apology and a hug go a long way in making sure your child feels loved and supported.

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