1. “Great Job!”

Research has shown that tossing out a generic phrase like “Good girl” or “Good boy” every time your child masters a skill makes them dependent on your affirmation rather than their own motivation. Save the kudos for when they’re truly warranted, and be as specific as you can. Instead of “Good game!,” say, “That was a nice assist. I like how you looked for your teammate.”

2.”You’re okay.”

When your child scrapes his knee and bursts into tears, your instinct may be to reassure him that he’s not badly hurt. But telling him he’s fine may only make him feel worse. Your kid is crying because he’s not okay. Your job is to help him understand and deal with his emotions, not discount them. Try giving him a hug and acknowledging what he’s feeling by saying something like, “That was a scary fall.” Then ask whether he’d like a bandage or a kiss (or both).

3. “Hurry up!”

Your child dawdles over her breakfast, insists on tying her own school shoes (even though she hasn’t quite mastered the technique yet), and is on pace to be late for school — again. But pushing her to get a move on creates additional stress. Soften your tone slightly by saying, “Let’s hurry,” which sends the message that the two of you are on the same team. You can also turn the act of getting ready into a game: “Why don’t we race to see who can get shoes on first?”

4. We can’t afford that.”

It’s easy to use this default response when your child begs you for the latest toy. But doing so sends the message that you’re not in control of your finances, which can be scary for kids, says Kids may also call you on this claim if you turn around and make an expensive household purchase. Choose an alternative way to convey the same idea, such as, “We’re not going to buy that because we’re saving our money for more important things.” If she insists on discussing it further, you have a perfect window to start a conversation about how to budget and manage money.

5. “Don’t talk to strangers.”

This is a tough concept for a young child to grasp. Even if a person is unfamiliar, she may not think of him as a stranger if he’s nice to her. Plus, kids may take this rule the wrong way and resist the help of police officers. Instead of warning her about strangers, bring up scenarios (“What would you do if a man you don’t know offers you sweets and a ride home?”), have her explain what she’d do, then guide her to the proper course of action. Since the vast majority of child-abduction cases involve someone a kid already knows. You can also adopt this safety mantra. “If anyone makes you feel sad, scared, or confused, you need to tell mum or dad right away.”

6. “Be careful.”

Saying this while your child is balancing on the monkey bars at the playground actually makes it more likely that he’ll fall. Your words distract him from what he’s doing, so he loses focus. If you’re feeling anxious, move close to spot him in case he takes a tumble, being as still and quiet as you can.

7. “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?”

Comparing your kid to a sibling can greatly hurt your kid. It makes them feel as though they are loved less than their sibling. This can create feelings of anger, jealousy and cause competition between siblings. The relationship between siblings can change dramatically based on how the parents treat them, so it is important to treat all of your kids like individuals.

8. “Go away!”

You may be busy doing something, or in the middle of something important when your child interrupts you. But asking your child to go away will make him or her feel as though he/she is not important to you. It could hurt their feelings deeply. It’s helpful to know how to talk to your kid when it comes to matters like these. Rather than snapping at your kid, you should just tell them you’ll be all theirs in five minutes.

9. “When I was your age”

Although you feel like your child is being given many more privileges and is much less appreciative than you, telling them about your childhood is not the answer. They’ll simply take it through one ear, and out the other. If you feel as though your kid is much less grateful than you, then you need to talk to your kid about it rather than talking about your life.

10. “You are so stupid”!

It is normal to get irritated with your kid, especially at times when you’re in the kitchen and your kid can’t do one thing right to help you. This is when we can all too easily tell them “You’re so stupid!” This phrase can really hurt a kid; it can make them feel like they are a failure at everything they do. This way you are making your kid feel like a nuisance when all they want to do is help you and have fun with you.

11. “Stop Being Friends with so and so!”

It’s good to know your kids’ friends, but to judge their friends and decide who’s good enough or not, will hurt your kid. When you tell them to stop being friends with someone, they will put up a fight, and feel as though it is a personal attack and possibly rebel. If you strongly believe that a certain friend is a bad influence, you should talk to your kid about it and try to make them understand.

12. “Stop Crying!”

When you tell your child to “stop crying” they can think that what they feel is not acceptable, and they are wrong. This in fact triggers more tears, which in turn makes a parent angrier. It is important to talk to your kid about whatever it is that is making them cry, whether it is something you said or anything else.

13. “Because I said so!”

Sometimes it’s hard to give your child a reason for what you tell them to do, but validating it with this phrase makes your kid feel inferior. Doing this will lower your kid’s self-esteem, and stop your kid from being curious.

Practice positive parenting by never saying these things. By doing so, you avoid hurting them emotionally thus keeping their self-esteem up.

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