Many are the times when we say things to our children and regret it the minute these upsetting words come out of our mouths. Haven’t we been in situations where we feel we are acting exactly like our parents did to us, and we repeat the exact things which hurt us and annoyed us when we were young?
We are all humans who learn by trial and error what methods and ways we need to use in order to help our children become independent individuals who are characterized by high self-esteem. It is very normal to act in ways that might not be well and perfect with our children, and in my opinion I don’t think it is terrible. However, what I consider catastrophic is when we don’t do anything to change our defaults and have them transmitted to our children.
Since it is a new year, and we are all filled with enthusiasm about changing bad habits, one of the good things we can work on is to consider the way we talk to our children. Here is a list of sentences which we should never say to our children and a few ways to avoid such situations.
“You do not know how to do this!”
Children need to hear encouragement in order to reach their goals and become ambitious people. Cutting off on their abilities will make them hopeless dependent beings in the future. Being patient with our children until they complete a given task inspires them into seeking more accomplishments.
Personally, I cannot bear hearing these words said to anyone, so imagine my feelings if it addressed to children. I find it impolite and aggravating as it has the capability of shutting and cutting all connections with the child.
“People will make fun of you!”
Even if we are prisoners to our own society, we should not let people decide for us. Teach your child to make his own choices as long as they are not harmful, neither to him nor to other people. They should not change their minds simply because they are afraid of people who might make fun of them.
“Why can’t you be like your sister/brother?”
Comparing siblings among each other develops jealousy. Have each child take credit for his own credentials and work on his weaknesses in the aim of becoming a better person for himself, his family, and the society.
“When I was your age…”
Comparing your child with yourself when you were his age sets high expectations which he cannot attain yet. Here, you are making it more difficult on the child as you show him that you are a perfect parent since you were still very small.
In eastern cultures, expressing one’s emotions is kind of shameful. Help your child cry when he feels the need to do so. After all, these emotions must be released in order to help the child learn how to cope with problems later on.
“You are bad!”
Instead of labelling your child’s personality as good or bad, have the focus on the behaviour instead. If you want to show that the child has done something terribly wrong, you could say, “What you have done to your baby brother hurts,” for example. Make the child aware of his actions and help him find ways to correct them.
We already live in a stressful environment and we are always booked with appointments and activities. Pushing your children on hurrying up, changes them into being worried and anxious beings. It is indeed difficult to maintain a composed manner when they are acting in such a slow conduct, but we need to remind ourselves that they are still unaware of deadlines and time management.
“That is ridiculous to be upset for.”
Children get upset on things that seem trivial to us. If we do not teach them to talk about their mishaps and fears, we teach them to develop a dark well of insecurities and inferior complexes. Teach and train them into talking about what makes them sad, happy, anxious etc…
“I don’t care.”
Using this expression makes your child feel neglected, secluded, and doesn’t have your support. Thus, they will not come to you when they need help, because in their minds they believe that you actually don’t really care – and of course it is not the case.
“I wish I never had kids!”
Sometimes parents get to the point where they wish they have been excluded of these duties and responsibilities as they might be overtired. However, even if you do have such feelings, try on not showing them because it takes a parent a few seconds to realize that children are treasures despite of all the trouble they cause.
“I have had enough of your lazy attitude!”
If your child is lazy about any action or duty, and he hears you tell him that you are tired of him, he feels that he should preserve this attitude as you are reinforcing it. It devastates a child to know that his parents are tired of his weaknesses.
In contrast, try to take things in a positive way:
Stay focused on the problem:
Children always try to manipulate parents into power struggle in order to avoid carrying on a task which they do not want to do. “I hate you”, or “You are a bad mom”, are some examples that the child might say when he is angry. A good response would be, “We’re not talking about whether you love or hate me right now. What we’re talking about is you doing your homework. Let’s focus on that.” By doing so you focus on what needs to be done, and you do not let their words upset you or bring you down to their maturity level.
Act instead of talking:
Train yourself to realise that you have reached a point where you cannot stand it anymore, and you are about to blow out this mean attitude on them. You also know you will regret it after. Use these emotions as a sign to drop the whole thing and leave the room by stating clearly that you will discuss the problem once you have both calmed down.
Apologise for your behaviour and actions:
We have all been mean and said awful things to our children and sometimes we do it with bitterness. When anger is in control, things just fall apart. We are humans and we tend to do mistakes, especially when it comes to parenting. However, showing your children your regret teaches them how to apologise and forgive. You can simply say, “I am really sorry for what I have said. I did not mean to hurt you. It hurts me too. And never forgot that I love you.”
Observe your children’s attitude:
When your child is angry, his attitude is exactly as yours when you are in the same state. Take it as an indirect lesson for you to change if you do not really like what you see.
Have them play a game:
Instead of pushing them along to hurry up, to school for example, playing games is fun and helps your children finish on time. We vary the games from racing, to gathering points to winning imaginary medals. It works out for a few weeks, then they get bored with it and we need to look for new interesting ideas.
Say a mantra in your mind:
Repeating encouraging statements in your mind many times helps in establishing a calm setting in your mental state. This will have a positive effect on your outer reactions and attitude towards any difficulty. For example, “Keep calm”, “All is well”, “I can do it”, “Breathe”, etc…
We as parents are always on a scale ranging from a correct attitude to a wrong reaction while we are doing our job as parenting. We should not be frightened of the mistakes we do. In contrast, let us have them as a lesson to a new strategy. Finally, I wish you and myself the best of luck in the years to come hoping we are on the right track.