When Parents Say Hurtful Things - How is Being a Dad (2023)

One thing we’ve learned in Psychology that hits close to home for almost everyone is that hurt people, hurt people. Therefore, when we think about when parents say hurtful things, we already know the answer, right?

It’s best not to handle situations with children when you’re in a bad mood or going through a challenging situation until you’ve resolved your problem. That way, it won’t trickle over into your parenting.

It is not usually a parent’s intent to cause harm to their children with the words or phrases they use. You’re exhausted, they’re grinding your nerves, and you’re irritated after having asked them a gazillion times to clean up after a meal or get out of the house on time.

You might be unintentionally saying words you heard as a child that your mom and dad overlooked had an emotional impact. We parents do our best, but somehow — frequently — we come up short.

That is why it’s beneficial to be aware of some of the possibly harmful expressions that parents frequently use without recognizing the consequences. It isn’t about being hard on ourselves. It’s just doing better by being more aware of our language.

So we talked with a few specialists who discussed some negative words to avoid saying and what to say as a replacement.

When Parents Say Hurtful Things - How is Being a Dad (1)

Five Things or Phrases All Parents Should Avoid

  • Labeling- Such as “You are a coward,” “You are stupid,” and even positive ones, like “You’re the best,” etc.
  • Downplaying their feelings – “It’s not a huge deal,” etc.
  • Making broad statements – “You’re Always,” or “You Never.”
  • Getting your emotions involved – “What you said makes me feel,” etc.
  • Trying to shame or guilt them – “You should have known,” etc.
  • Losing Patience – “Just let me do it!”

1. Labeling

“You are a…”

Experts believe that one of the most important things parents can do for their children is avoiding labeling them. Labels harm the parent-child relationship because they prevent parents from seeing their children as struggling and needing assistance.

Parents begin to associate certain behaviors with whatever label they’ve assigned to their child, rather than delving deeper and genuinely attempting to understand what’s going on developmentally. Labels take us away from compassion and curiosity.

(Video) 8 Hurtful Things Parents Tell Children

Labels have the potential to become self-fulfilling as well. When children hear from their parents that they are a certain way, they may come to accept it as true — even if it does not feel true to them.

Even labels that appear favorable, such as “You’re smart!” can be harmful. When we tell our children, ‘You’re gifted’ or ‘You’re athletic,’ we’re telling them, ‘The only reason you did well on that test is because you were born gifted,’ or ‘You wouldn’t have made that goal if it hadn’t been for your natural ability.’

Furthermore, if our child fails the test the next time, they will be confused and discouraged, doubting their ability. “How could they have failed if they were so intelligent?”

Instead, consider the following:

Recognize and applaud effort rather than outcomes. And do everything you can to keep your child from being labeled as anything, good or bad.

2. Downplaying Their Feelings or Concerns

“It’s not that big of a deal.” Ouch!

Children frequently shed tears or implode over trivial matters.

While children’s whining and moaning can get under their parents’ skin, especially when it’s about stuff you believe they must be capable of coping with, it’s damaging to minimize their very genuine emotions by advising kids to toughen up.

Many minor problems — as well as the feelings associated with them — are pretty big to our children. We tell them, ‘How you feel doesn’t matter,’ or ‘It’s silly to be afraid or disappointed,’ when we dismiss their emotional reactions to authentic problems.

Instead, consider the following:

(Video) 8 Toxic Things Parents Say To their Children

Take a moment to consider things from their point of view, like “You seem scared, frustrated, or disappointed right now.

Should we discuss it and decide what to do?” Finally, you’re assisting them in labeling their feelings, which is an essential part of emotional intelligence growth, and emphasizing that you’re there for them.

3. Making Broad or General Statements

When Parents Say Hurtful Things - How is Being a Dad (2)

“You never do this” or “You always do that” are terrible statements to use with our spouses, but it’s the same effect on our children.

Children have habits, but suggesting your adolescent “often” or “never” does something is untrue. It is why therapists advise their patients to circumvent using the word “never” with their spouses at all costs.

So, according to the experts, using general statements is a huge warning sign that you’ve ceased being interested to know about what’s occurring in this given moment with your kids.

It’s a missed opportunity to educate children on what they might do and what they can do another time.

Instead, consider the following:

Keep telling oneself to be interested to know why the young person is acting a certain way at a particular time. Experts say it’s necessary to relate to your kid by sitting or standing closer to them during discussion.

That way, you’re not yelling at them from across the room, but you’re right there with them to ensure they get your full attention and vice versa.

(Video) 8 Things Toxic Mothers Say To Their Children

4. Getting Your Emotions Involved

“When you do that, it makes me sad.”

Sure, it’s upsetting when your child doesn’t listen, but it’s critical to set (and enforce) limits without bringing your feelings into the equation. And these are your emotions, not theirs. Furthermore, by possibly giving children a series of opposing authority, you’re setting a dangerous precedent.

“When children feel like they get to determine whether you’re pleased, sorrowful, or angry, they could gladly take the opportunity to keep pushing your switches down the road.”

“And even when they’ve left the nest, this mindset can harm relationships in the future and set the foundation for them to exploit others to get something they want.”

Instead, consider the following:

Establish whatever limits you need to set, such as “It’s not acceptable to climb on the furniture.” Then offer options such as, “So would you rather start a less noisy game inside or go outdoors to play?”

5. Trying to Shame Them

You Should have known” is one of the most common statements parents make. When you say things like “you should know better,” you’re essentially attempting to guilt or shame your child into changing. However, this puts children on the defensive, making them even less likely to listen, according to experts. It also undermines their trust.

When we tell our children they should have known better — and they didn’t — we’re sending the message, ‘You’re too stupid/immature to make a good decision.'” “It wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Instead, consider the following:

“Well, looks like we’ve got a problem here!” “What can we do to make it better?” The goal is to focus on solutions rather than problems so that children can practice problem-solving and correct their own mistakes.

(Video) 10 Toxic Things Parents Say To Their Kids

They’ll also consider how to make better choices in the first place. By saying we, it also shows that you want to help genuinely.

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6. Losing Patience

“Just give it to me.”

When you’re rushing out the door or waiting for your child to finish a simple task that seems to be taking forever, your first instinct may be to take over the situation. However, if at all possible, avoid doing so.

You’re telling your child, ‘You’re not capable of doing this, so I need to step in.’ It’s both disheartening and frustrating. Imagine you were on the verge of being able to tie your shoelace and only needed a few more tries, but then Dad swoops in and stops you.

Instead, consider the following:

Would you please slow down and give your child enough time to finish their task? Or, at the very least, be more specific about why you need to rush. “I’ll help you just this once because we’re running late, but let’s work on this together later!”

The Bottom Line

When parents say hurtful things, they often don’t mean it. There is no perfect parenting, but the aim is to be the best we possibly can, and it begins with stepping away from the traditional phrases that hurt our children psychologically.


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(Video) 8 Things Parents Shouldn't Say to Their Child


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