Words can cut deep, and sometimes, leave emotional scars that can cause damaging affects for a life time. Children especially are so very sensitive, extremely naive, and vulnerable to our words and actions. What you say, they believe with all their heart. Hurtful phrases can trigger severe feelings of resentment and damage their self-esteem and self-worth well into their adult lives.
Here are some things you should really think twice about before you let them pass from your lips. Remember, when dealing with children and young teens, it's what you say and how you say it that leaves a lasting impression. Make your words count.
Can't You Try Harder ~ If you're not satisfied with their efforts during sports, dance class or school, they certainly won't be motivated any more and left discouraged. "That was a wonderful effort. I'm so proud of you. How about maybe try it this way?" Be encouraging ... show ... be supportive.
Do You Really Need To Eat That - Eat More ~ Might as well just say they have a weight problem. If anything, this will foster a negative body image. Even if you say they're picky or great eaters, young minds translate your meaning differently.
You Always/Never ~ Keep this phrasing out of your comments. Instead try, "You seem to have some difficulty with that. What can I do to help? It's ok it didn't work. Let mommy help show you how."
"Why Can't You Be More Like ~ Lord! This will certainly make them harbor feelings of not being worthy and pit them against the rival you created in their mind. Try to be encouraging in whatever they do. Otherwise, it makes them feel like they'll never measure up, never be good at anything.
Don't Worry/Cry, It Will Be Fine ~ This dismisses their fears, their worry and how they are truly feeling. They're still going to worry. Ask them why they are worried. Get them to talk about it. Tell them you understand and there for them. Let them know it may be scary because it's new but it might surprise them and be a lot of fun. Let them know they need to at least try and you'll be there if it doesn't work out.
Do As I Say/Because I Told You So ~ Might as well just hit them over the head. You aren't giving them a chance to figure things out for themselves and making the right decision with just dictating. You'll make them harbor feelings of defiance and what they think doesn't matter. If for example they want to play/hang out with friends and not go visit Gramma with you try, "Gramma loves and misses you and it's important we spend time with her because she doesn't see you often."
Just Let Me Do It ~ When your child volunteers and wants to help, don't slap them down if they don't do it right. "That was great sweetie! Let me show you another cool way."