“If you don’t stop, you’ll go straight to bed!”
By associating punishment to bedtime, your child will end up considering that going to bed is truly a punishment and will do everything in his power to avoid going to sleep. He will not want to be “punished” every night! Try to turn your phrase into an advice instead of a threat and your child will not make a negative link between the two. With “You need a bit of rest, go lie down for a few minutes”, you will obtain the same result without the negative interpretation.
“You are bad” or “You’re not nice!”
Of course, when your son hits his little sister, we say the first thing that comes to mind to stop him and make him understand that it is not right. However, you must understand that it is not the child who is bad it is the action. By telling him that he is bad, the child absorbs this image of himself at a moment when he has difficulty expressing his feelings. He can really grow up to think that he is evil, like some movie or books characters. Try instead: “You are not bad but what you just did was not nice. I don’t want you to do it again.”
“I will miss you!”
Your little girl is spending the weekend at her grandparents and you want to show her how much you love her by telling her that you will miss her a lot? Do not overly insist on that or your child will feel guilty if he has fun while you are bored, somewhere, without her. “I will think about you and I hope you’ll have a great time!” will make her understand that you love her but without the guilt!
“Stop crying like a baby!”
Well, usually when we say this, it is because we can’t hear him cry any longer. We think, wrongly, that it will stop him. A child who cries expresses a feeling of sadness, frustration, anger or fatigue. It is important to acknowledge his emotion as we are setting our limits in a kind and firm way. “I know that you are sad, I understand that it is frustrating, I know that you are angry, etc.” followed by “but you must stop. Come here and tell me what is going on…” will reassure him on the legitimacy of his emotions and he will understand that he is not expressing it in the right manner.
“Hurry up!” followed by “Wait a minute!”
With our rushed mornings and crazy lives, we would like to have a cooperative child when it is time to get dressed, clean up, leave a place for another, etc. Then, we ask our child to wait while we dress his little sister, put the plates away, put on our jacket and whatnot! If we cannot always control our environment and the related tasks, it is best to plan a bit of extra time or to prepare things in advance instead of rushing him all day! If your child truly needs to learn to wait and be patient, it is also good to tell him why and to tell him when we will be able to take care of him.
“You cost me too much”
Of course, a child has expenses and you may think that his daycare, his summer camp, his books and his clothes change your travel expenses but avoid telling him. When you do, it is probably lightly and to make him understand that you cannot buy everything but for a child, it is as if love had a financial value. For them, it is as bad as if Romeo married Juliet for the money.
“Your dad and I didn’t even want kids”, “You were an accident”, “My pregnancy was awful”, “It was very expensive to have you made in tube”, “Adoption is very complicated”
A child doesn’t need to know everything about the miracle of conception and it is even truer if you are about to tell him that he was not desired or if it you went through a lot of trouble because of him. In his mind, the world barely existed before he was born and you have always been loving parents. Keep your stories and secrets in store to reassure him when he will have his children later on.
“You eat like a pig!”, “You’re slow as a snail!”
You remember those quips that your parents told you as a child. These things that we end up believing as we get older and that mark us for life are easy to avoid when you think about it. The sensitivity of children is on edge and they absorb everything that we say like sponges. Do you really want your child to grow up feeling like a pig? Probably not!
Speak from your heart
Don’t panic either. We cannot stop talking in order to always politically correct either. What matters the most is to be aware of the impact of certain words, certain tones of voice and the way it will be perceived by our child. By being less negative in our way of talking and by having a more positive approach, we reassure our child of our love and we send the right message!