Parenting is hard sometimes. Kids try your patience with their interruptions or constant questions. Sometimes parents say the wrong things whether it is in frustration or just without fully thinking before we speak.
A while back, I read this article from Parenting.com and while much of it was geared toward talking to your toddler, many of the points made are valid even for older kids. I know I am guilty of doing a few of these and often regret my actions later.
So here are 8 things they recommend you not say your child revised a little more for the older kids.
“Leave me alone” or “I’m busy”
I am guilty of saying this to my daughter usually after she has interrupted me for the hundredth time about something she saw in a video. (Cute dog or funny trick – not something serious.) And sometimes I do feel guilty for turning her away. I don’t want her to think I don’t have time for her. And that is what the article talked about. If we brush our kids off all the time, they will be less likely to come tell you things when they are older.
I try not brush the kids aside too often or at least give them a time when I will be free. “I really need to finish this email, then I will answer your question (or get them ice cream or watch the funny video or whatever).”
Labels are often shortcuts that shortchange kids: “Why are you so mean to your sister?” Or “How could you be such a klutz?” And sometimes kids over hear us talking to others: “He is my shy kid.”
I have mentioned to others that Jase is my shy, reserved child and Lexie is what I call my rule-tester. But when I say this it has typically been to other parents when the kids are not around. Now that they are older, we have had a few discussions about the different ways they approach things like rules.
The article talks about young kids believing what they hear without question and that negative labels can become self-fulfilling. Their suggestion is to address the specific behavior and leave the adjectives about your child’s personality out of it.
Variations could be “Don’t be sad,” “Don’t be a baby,” or “There is no reason to be afraid.” Now as I said, the article was written with toddlers in mind, so it is true that they often cry because they cannot articulate their feelings with words. But really all kids can be sad or frightened sometimes. Telling them to not be sad or afraid won’t make things better.
Rather than deny their feelings, you should acknowledge them. Especially with young kids you need to help them learn to express themselves.
“Why can’t you be more like…”
It is hard not to compare your child to siblings or friends. But comparing your child do someone else is never a good thing. Your child is herself, not her brother or classmate. Kids develop at their own pace and have their own temperament and personality. Comparing your child to another implies you wish they were different.
And comparisons do not help change behavior.
Jase and Lexie are so different that we seldom compare one to the other though Lexie does often ask questions about who walked first, lost more teeth or some other milestone accomplishment. But then again, she is always looking at ways that she is unique.
“You know better than that!”
We sometimes assume our kids understand what we want or what they are supposed to do. But do they? Not always. As parents, I think we sometimes forget that our kids don’t always think of the consequences of their actions. Sometimes they don’t know better. Learning is a process of trial and error. And even if they made the same mistake just yesterday, this comment is neither productive nor supportive.
“Wait till Daddy gets home!”
This is a parenting cliché is not only a threat but a diluted form of discipline. To be effective, you need to take care of a situation immediately. Discipline that is postponed does not connect the consequences to your child’s actions. By the time Dad gets home, your child may have forgotten what he/she did wrong. Also passing off the dispensing of punishment to someone else undermines your authority.
OMG – I certainly have used this one quite often. As I utter these words, Lexie begins to feel panicked and doesn’t seem to move any faster. In fact, in her haste, she seems to make more mistakes. This phrase only makes your child feel guilty and as I said, doesn’t motivate them to move faster. Instead of the last image your kid sees in the morning is of you yelling, find ways to speed things along without the panic.
I’m sure are wondering what could be wrong with giving praise. After all, shouldn’t we want to give positive reinforcement to our kids? The trouble with this praise is it is vague and when used too often, it becomes meaningless and kids will tune it out.
The article suggested to praise only those accomplishments that require real effort, be specific (“I like the colors you used”) and praise the behavior rather than the child (“you put a lot of time researching for this project”).
As with any article on parenting, you have to take the advice and adapt or modify it to your situation. And of course, there is always the option of ignoring it completely. Now I won’t do that last one but this article has given me some things to consider.