Growing up, children are extra sensitive and despite sometimes not understanding what you are saying, they understand the tone and manner. It’s our responsibility to provide healthy learning and growing environments for them to live in. Here is what not to say in front or to your children, as it might have consequences in either their growth, sense of belonging and self-confidence. 9 things you should never say to your children, here is why:
1. Comments on their looks
“You’ve lost/gained weight”. This one goes without saying, by saying things like this we are enabling thoughts in children that will not only affect them now, but throughout their development as grown-ups. Body and self-image issues are a struggle many face, so we shouldn’t be encouraging behaviors or thoughts that allow for them to concentrate on such things no matter how old they are.
Our piece of advice: Create a healthier environment for your child’s body and image, do not comment on their weight or looks unless they have spoken to you about feeling unhappy or unhealthy. You should in general encourage a healthier lifestyle in the household, this way we make sure our children are mentally and physically healthy, and that’s what matters.
2. “Stop dressing like___” Whether it’s a comment on the style of clothing they choose, if they are for example dressing a certain way, or a comment on how little or much they’re wearing; it’s not okay. We get how some in Eastern communities are concerned with safety, but this leads to the emotional oppression of women, as it is not exactly our faults that it is for whatever reason unsafe. Or just in general, we shouldn’t have to change how we want to dress for anyone but for ourselves.
Our piece of advice: Let your child figure out their own personal style and what they like, emotionally support them along the way and you will provide your child with the confidence they need. You being happy for them and encouraging will help them along the way of figuring themselves out.
3. Enforcing gender roles “These hobbies aren’t for girls/boys” There are certain values we had growing up that are just outdated, who says girls can’t play football or boys can't have creative pursuits? Who says what makes a girl more feminine, and why were we limited to these things? Letting your child find their own hobbies and stuff they like doing will allow them to develop their talents and find out what they really enjoy.
Our piece of advice: Let them figure out what they like, are talented in or consider something they’re passionate about. The concept of guys being able to do something but not girls / labelling something in general or gendering activities is a very outdated practice within itself. This way, we allow our children to be expressive.
4. “That isn’t ladylike” This is like the one above, it doesn’t exactly create the healthiest environment for girls to grow up in. There are certain behaviors deemed acceptable for men but not for women, such as it being suggested that the way a girl sits implies anything about her.
Our piece of advice: Let your children have equal opportunities and rules in both the house and outside, this will allow them to discover what works for them in a good and stable environment.
5. Calling them a child/stupid “What do you know you’re a child” or anything that insults their intelligence. They are still developing and even at a mature age saying something like this completely neglects their intelligence and makes them doubt themselves and unconfident.
Our piece of advice: Simply saying you don’t know what you’re talking about or joking about your child having an opinion is not the way to deal with them. Instead, openly communicate with your child and understand the situation and explain to them they’re not behaving rationally. Let them know that it’s okay to disagree with you, as you will both learn from each other.
6. Creating bad environments for girls growing up “Look at___ she’s so____/ you should be more like __” or anything that compares children. This creates toxic energy around girls growing up, it allows for competition and bad thought processes.
Our piece of advice: Be your child’s emotional support blanket, create the confident energy that you want them to carry with them for the rest of their lives.
7. “You’re so….” “Why do you…” “Stop thinking like that” or pointing out things that are out of their control such as mental health, trust and abandonment issues for example. This often happens when the children are in their teenage years and begin to have complicated relationships, often these issues come out in situations involving friends, family and significant others. Instead of comforting their child and providing them the reassurance they need, parents may often question why their child feels that way and ignore that this is not something in their control.
Our piece of advice: Understand your child’s mental health, because they don’t. Help them create this understanding and awareness, and if a certain situation is too much, talk to them about why they’re feeling this way and how it causes certain behavior. When they’re at an appropriate age do have a proper conversation about it and try to help them adapt and change.
8. Unintentionally gaslighting them when they’re trying to communicate somethings wrong
“You need to calm down” Okay, this one is in certain situations. Sometimes when a child is freaking out or clearly very stressed from something, the parents consider them to be misbehaving, when they are really trying to communicate that they’re stressed. As a child, it is hard to understand what is making you feel a certain why, and the effort to be able to tell the people responsible for you is just as hard. The mere fact the child is voicing their displeasure means that something is bothering them, instead of automatically assuming the child is misbehaving figure out what is going on.
Our piece of advice: Listen to your child and do not underestimate their way of communicating, it might be the only way they know how. Help them communicate and allow them to become better at stating what is wrong or bothering them in healthier manners.
9. Bad words and language: Swearing or bad mouthing them, this goes without saying; your child does not need to hear explicit or bad language at this age. This will create for the child to believe that this language is normal, and despite it maybe being so, it’s not appropriate for kids to be growing up around it. If they are older, they can make their own decisions on what’s right and wrong but until them you should probably establish behavioral boundaries yourself.
Our piece of advice: Do not say anything you don’t want your child repeating and watch your own behavior around them.
Sometimes we say certain things without realizing, but we should be taking serious and extra precaution in front of children. We need to remember that we’re the role models, and the ones showing them how to grow up to be the greatest version of themselves. The way we grew up is different to the way they’re going to; each generation adapts as society progresses. Don’t you remember thinking how your parents shouldn’t raise you the way their parents raised them, but with the lessons they all taught each other? We need to provide a healthy environment for our kids and future generations, no matter the age, the environment around them creates subconscious thought processes that will later on be challenged throughout their lives. This means we need to teach our children even the ones going to college morals, ethics, self-love and warm loving environments. We’re responsible for both our girls’ and boys’ way in how they handle other people, situations, their idea of safety and most importantly themselves.
Main image credits: Karen Wazen