It’s no secret that parents should pay attention to how they communicate with their children. Even tiger moms and parents following the French style of raising children could agree that what we say to our kids and how we say it matters. Tiger moms and French parents get the results they want largely because of what they say. But besides using words to get kids to do what they want, how moms and dads communicate with their kids directly impacts the parent-child relationship long term. And it’s the simple statements parents make, usually in a moment of frustration with their young children, which can cause the most damage later on. Here are 5 things parents shouldn’t say to their kids.
1. I don’t care
Little kids love to share details…of their playground conversations with friends, of the cloud formation they think looks like a sea serpent, of why they squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste into the bathtub. And sometimes? Parents just don’t want to hear the specifics. But beware of saying “I don’t care!” because you’re cutting off communication with your child and saying that something important to him or her isn’t so important to you. “Most parents have a difficult time once children reach the adolescent stages and complain that their teens are not communicative with them. Don’t let the day end without addressing your child’s need to share with you.
2. Say, You are sorry!
Your preschooler takes a toy from another child and makes him or her cry. You instantly tell your child to say sorry for his or her actions. You’re trying to teach your child to be compassionate, which is a laudable goal. But “forcing a child to apologize does not teach a child social skills. If parents force a child to say they are sorry, it could delay the child’s natural acceptance of apologizing. Apologize to the child for your kid as a way to model the behavior you’re trying to encourage. And make sure that when you’re in situations where an apology is warranted, you deliver it just as easily.