Parenting is one of the most difficult challenges to undertake as an adult, however, it is one of the most rewarding.
As parents, we genuinely do our best to provide our children with a happy and healthy upbringing, which also involves providing financially for our children’s future.
With the many distractions in our society today, we can lose sight of our child’s emotional needs which in turn can have detrimental effects on their development and mental well-being. Without realizing, we can say things that have negative impact in the minds of our young ones which can lead to low self esteem, diminished confidence and an unhealthy sense of competitiveness.
You must have heard many of these lines from your parents as a child growing up in Africa. But today’s children have a differently set mind to yours, they are like sponges and soak up all they hear which can cause so much emotional and mental damage to the child that it ends up greatly affecting them even after they have grown up.
With this in mind, here are 3 popular phrases used by parents, that should never be said to kids during their development.
1. “Don’t make me ashamed of you.”
Let’s start with phrases revolving around the carrot and the stick phenomenon, which parents mindlessly use to either solicit good behaviour or discourage mischievousness. By using extreme and emotive phrases such as “don’t make me ashamed of you”, you are running the risk of emotionally wounding your child and hindering their ability to process both praise and constructive criticism.
Children who hear this phrase are also likely to constantly seek approval in the eyes of others, and this can breed significant issues when they attempt to form romantic relationships in later life.
2. “When I was your age, I did better than this.”
This is a common term with us African parents, most exaggerating our achievements as children in order to boost the morale of our kids or inspire them to do better. We’ve even made so much joke about this phrase in recent times, however the bottomline is – it is wrong. In the eyes of infants aged under the age of six, parents are perceived as gods rather than mere mortals. Being placed on a pedestal in this manner adds gravity to everything that you say, while the dynamics of the relationships that they form with others are also influenced heavily by the phrases and statements that you use.
If you constantly refer to your own achievements as a child, for example, you may be fostering an unhealthy sense of competitiveness in your kids and creating an infant mind-set that is desperate to validate its self-worth. While this is not necessarily harmful during childhood, it takes on a more sinister form later in life as it encourages individuals to pursue goals to please others rather than personal gratification. This can lead to long-term unhappiness and prevent your children from enjoying a full and contented life.
READ: A-Z Parenting Tips
3. “You’re just like your father (or mother).”
Now the impact phrase depends largely on its delivery, although as a general rule you should avoid saying it at all costs. Even if the phrase is repeated in jest, it can create negative connotations in a child’s mind and cause them to take a dim of view of the traits that they share with a particular parent.
This can create distance between you and your child, but this is nothing compared to the impact of this phrase when it is uttered in anger. In this instance, you are presenting a clear sign that you are unhappy with your relationship, unsettling the child and inadvertently engaging them in a parental conflict. Your child may also become a subconscious outlet for your angst and frustration, which in turn lowers their self-esteem and creates an unwanted distraction at school.
With this in mind, strive to avoid unflattering comparisons between your child and partner, and instead frame your criticism constructively without referring to anybody else.
Are you fond of using any of these phrases when speaking with your children? It would be wise to stop today and start using positive words that influence the lives of your kids.