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Do your words have the power to make or break a child’s self-esteem?
What you say as a parent can truly shape how your kids think, feel, and behave for better or worse.
From gentle reminders to harsh criticism, words can be powerful tools for communication.
It’s important to be mindful of these tools so that we don’t unknowingly harm our children in any way.
To help protect them from potential emotional damage, here are 13 things you should definitely avoid saying to your children at all costs.
#1. I’m Ashamed of You
Ashamed? The strong hit of “I’m ashamed of you” can hang over a child’s doings and wins with a constant, dark cloud of not being enough.
Let’s plant seeds of pride and praise so kids create a garden of self-value where they’re free to grow, mess up, and learn in a warm and loving place.
Instead of labeling their whole self, paying attention to specific actions keeps their developing identity safe, letting it grow with good vibes.
#2. Having You Ruined My Life
To a kid, hearing “Having you ruined my life” isn’t just a parent having a challenging moment; it becomes a harsh, lifelong tag.
Quiet feelings of guilt and feeling unimportant might slowly wrap around their self-image, potentially covering their true worth and possibilities with self-questioning.
Cheering them on and loving without conditions should be the sunlight that lets their self-esteem bloom, free from the hurtful weeds of blame or regret.
#3. You’re Always Such a Problem
Naturally full of play and wonder, kids might sometimes push limits, but calling them a constant issue with “You’re always such a problem” can dim their bright spirit.
Their antics, efforts, and even naughty moments are all key colors of their lively, changing character, which deserves understanding, not scolding.
Let’s be the ones who enjoy all their different shades, gently steering, not scolding, through life’s journeys.
#4. You’re Too Sensitive
A feeling, a tear, or a sad face, often pushed away with “You’re too sensitive,” might accidentally cover up the true emotions and thoughts a child wants to share.
Seeing, getting, and confirming their feelings lets kids build a strong connection between feelings and words, assuring emotional wellness.
Let’s be understanding listeners, cheering on their bravery to share and giving a cozy place where their sensitivity is noticed and honored.
#5. You’ll Never Amount to Anything
A kid’s dreams, light and airy like bubbles, float freely in the soft winds of hope and wishful thinking.
Yet, saying “You’ll never amount to anything” heartlessly pops these fragile dreams, wetting their spirit with drops of disbelief and sadness.
Instead of popping their floaty dreams, let’s be the gentle wind that lifts and pushes them into the limitless sky of possibility.
#6. You’re Too Fat/Skinny
A comment that, on top, might seem just like a simple note, “You’re too fat/skinny,” actually gets into the soft spots of a child’s self-value and body image.
A child’s view of their own body, shaped from the mud of self-love and acceptance, often falls apart under such sharp criticisms.
Let’s be the gentle shapers who form their self-worth and body image with kindness, helping a healthy, loving relationship with themselves grow.
#7. Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Sibling?
Comparing them, especially to a sibling, asking, “Why can’t you be more like your sibling?” often shadows a child’s own light and self.
Every child, with their own skills and powers, deserves to be in the spotlight of praise, not hidden by the dark of comparison.
Hold each child’s unique shine, ensuring your love and liking warms each one in their own light, not dimmed by unneeded comparison.
#8. I Don’t Love You Anymore
Saying “I don’t love you anymore” brutally breaks the silent promise of steady parental love that a child naturally believes in.
These words dug a deep hole of feeling left and fear, possibly turning into rivers of self-doubt and worry in their grown-up relationships.
Parental love should be the constant light lighting up even the darkest parts of a kid’s world, with no conditions.
#9. You’re Such a Disappointment
Picture a bright canvas with a child’s true spirit and efforts, suddenly splashed with a grey, heavy color.
“You’re such a disappointment” doesn’t just show one moment; it colors their self-view with a lasting shade of never being enough.
In times of failures and wins, let’s make sure our words add to the colorful mix of self-picture and goals, not take away from their natural brightness.
#10. You’re Just Like Your (Negative Trait) Parent
Saying “You’re just like your [negative trait] parent” doesn’t only say one thing but rings through generations, possibly knitting a pattern of handed-down hurt and bitterness.
Kids deserve to be seen for their own values and deeds, free from the weights or wrongs of those before them.
Let’s create a new story where they are liked and noticed for their own good points, growing a heritage of love and understanding.
#11. I Wish I Never Had Kids
When parents say, “I wish I never had kids,” it goes beyond a quick upset moment, maybe putting ideas of being unwanted in a kid’s heart.
A kid’s life, connected with parental love and approval, should be seen as a lovely shared adventure of feelings and moments.
Using words that show our promise and love helps them grow, turning them into safe, loved people who share that love with others.
#12. I Wish You Were More Like (Someone Else)
Kids, each uniquely and beautifully themselves, start to lose their color compared to others.
Suddenly, saying, “I wish you were more like (someone else),” throws shade on their shine.
In this hidden dark, seeds of self-doubt and bitterness can grow, maybe dimming their natural brightness forever.
#13. You’re So Stupid
Imagine a little spark of curiosity, capable of lighting a big fire of smarts and creativity.
But a harsh sentence like “You’re so stupid” can cruelly put out this spark, darkening their excited spirit to discover and create.
In this quiet dark, the fires of learning and bouncing back need the air of cheering on and kind guidance to burn bright again.
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Jon Dulin is the passionate leader of Unfinished Success, a personal development website that inspires people to take control of their own lives and reach their full potential. His commitment to helping others achieve greatness shines through in everything he does. He’s an unstoppable force with lots of wisdom, creativity, and enthusiasm – all focused on helping others build a better future. Jon enjoys writing articles about productivity, goal setting, self-development, and mindset. He also uses quotes and affirmations to help motivate and inspire himself. You can learn more about him on his About page.