4 things you should not say to your child
While communication is important, the quality of what parents say is important too. Here are 4 things you should not say to your child.
Children are like sponges, they absorb everything. How many times have you said something, thinking your child isn't paying attention, only to have them repeat exactly what you said to someone else?
So its not surprising that research indicates that the more words a child hears in the first few years of life the better his future language skills and even IQ scores. Yes this includes baby talk!
But while communication is important, the quality of what parents say is important too. Constantly nagging and directing and threatening can have the opposite reaction than your intention. When we have to force our children to say sorry, do they actually mean it? When we threaten to leave them behind at home if they don't hurry up but don't mean follow up, what do they learn?
So to establish an awesome relationship your their children, here are 4 things you should not say to your child:
Say sorry! Now!
It's really embarrassing when your children snatch someone's toy or hurt someone by mistake. As parents we "lose face" as it seems that we have not taught our children how to behave.
But if you have to force them to apologise, then it doesn't mean anything. And your child has not learnt to realise they screwed up and should not repeat what they did. So instead of a knee jerk reaction like "Naughty! Say sorry now!" try asking for acknowledgement that they did something wrong, understanding that they hurt the other party and a suggestion to do better next time.
"My daughter is the good one!" "This boy is the macho one!"
Try not to pigeonhole your children, especially in front of them. It's tempting to confirm it when people say "Oh your daughter is an angel" but labeling people with specific attributes make it harder for them to change. It may make them more likely to stick to stereotypes, denying who they really are.
There are times when you get so fed up with your child that you start issuing threats that you don't follow up on. Like threatening to leave them behind at home if they don't hurry up, like telling them you'll give them away if they don't behave (my Mum used this one on me a lot!). But we know better now, so we should do better. If the statement is not true, we should not say it. Our child's trust in us is more valuable than getting her to behave exactly as we want.
"You're the best/smartest at ________"
Yup we are all proud of our children, to us they are the best by virtue of simply being our children. But we should not praise using superlatives. We want them to be good at things, but if children only value excellent performances, they may avoid the messy trial-and-error process of getting a good outcome. We should encourage them to try their best, and not give up when things get hard, rather than just telling them that they are smart.