Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What NOT to say to your children.

I've linked to this article before, and after briefly mentioning it, I thought I would actually sit down and talk about what I agree and disagree with. Although I can agree with every point that was made, to a certain extent, I find some of the way that things are said as unrealistic. I will highlight the points below {10 things the author says we should not say to our kids} and give my opinion/what we do in our family. Not as a way of saying that my way is the better way or the right way, but just as a reference as to what we do. Simple as that.
1. "Good Job." We say this to Elliana all the time and I honestly have no desire to ever drop this off the list of things that we say. She hears it all around her. At toddler time. Gymnastics or dance class. Good job is one of those phrases that just slips right off the tongue. It is praise. Praise is good. The author suggests that we use the phrase "You really tried hard on that," but I just cannot imagine that being appropriate for small children. I think it is important to highlight their efforts, but I certainly don't think that saying good job is showing that anything and everything they do is a "good job" especially if mom or dad said so.

2. "Good boy/girl." This is something from day one that I have told Andrew we will not say. So I do agree with the author on this one. Instead of saying good girl, we just say thank you for doing {insert whatever she did... such as picking up her toys, or using her manners}. If she is misbehaving, we focus on the problem. If listening is the problem we tell her that it is important to listen to mama or papa and to have her listening ears on at all times. This was an easy one that we both agreed on and we have not had any trouble with choosing different words of ways of communicating praise/misbehavior.

3. "What a beautiful picture." The author goes on to say that we should instead focus on telling them what they see. Eh. I don't see a thing wrong with thinking that the artwork that our children do is beautiful. Because to me? Guess what? It is beautiful. When they hear other moms at toddler time saying how beautiful their child's artwork is, my children will not be looking at me with big sad eyes waiting for that acknowledgement as well. I'm not lying to them when I say that it is beautiful... in my eyes... it is just that. And always will be. Even if it's just paint splattered across the page.

4. "Stop it right now, or else." Eh. I'm on the fence on this one. Mainly because we are definitely guilty of doing the whole... if you don't do this then this gets taken away. Or if you do this then you don't get that. The whole threatening gig. It's kind of a survival mode as parents. Parents of young children that is. As a toddler, they cannot understand rational just yet. They can understand when something gets taken away. They can also understand when things get taken away because of bad behavior. Time outs are enforced if they don't stop doing the said bad behavior on the count of three. And so forth. So by letting them know that if they continue to do this they no longer get to go fun at the park or get their favorite doll taken away? It allows them the opportunity to choose their next step. So do I think that is actually something negative? No, I don't. I can see the change of wording once a child gets older, but at this point it's what gets our child's attention and it works.

5. "If you do this, then I'll give you this." Again, I am guilty of doing this, however, I agree with the author on this one and we try to refrain from saying this as much as possible. As bribery is not something that I am too fond of.

6.  "You're so smart." Again, this kind of goes with the good job one mentioned in number one. Everyone thinks their kid is so smart. I think my kid is so smart. I will always tell her that I think she is so smart because I always want her to know that celebrate each and every one of her achievements and are proud of them no matter at what rate or comparison to other children. The author goes on to say that this puts pressure on the children to always get the grade and always exceed in academics. Although we are not there yet {age wise} to have to deal with that, I have to say that I want my children to always understand that hard work is what is most important. Putting in the effort and doing their best. However we will never expect them to do something or reach a goal that they cannot reach.

7. "Don't cry." Yes. This one I agree with, simply because it is important to remember that these children have feelings, that they have emotions they need to express, and most importantly that crying is first way that they ever learned to communicate with us. Do I say it? Yes, and I am constantly trying to remind myself that it's okay to cry.

8.  "I promise..." This is something we decided as a parents to avoid saying from day one, and since making that decision, we have never had the "urge" to tell the kids..."I promise." We just never want to get in a situation where we can't keep that promise that we made.

9. "It's not a big deal." Ha. This is just a phrase that I am used to saying, period, so it is hard for me to remember to eliminate this around the children. I don't personally think it is that bad of a thing to say, but I have had a little "chat" with myself to remember to be more aware.

10. "Why did you do that." I understand that children may not understand why they did something, however, the reason why I do not find anything wrong with this phrase is because I believe this promotes conversation, and we like to talk about the actions and what one could have done differently in a situation.

Overall, I thought the article was a great read and definitely rattled my brain a bit. However, my favorite part about the article is a comment that someone made. Their only advice? Don't be an a-hole. To your children. To your husband. To others. By treating those you love and those around you with respect, you will give your children a greater gift than many others out there.

And instantly, I said to myself, that right there was exactly what I was thinking. Perfectly said too. Just don't be an a-hole.

Just love those children. We worry too much about what we should say/shouldn't say. At the end of the day, it's not whether or not we said "no" or "yes" or whether or not we tell them how smart or how great of a job they are doing, or better yet, how hard they are working instead. Not how we say things or how we word our sentences. We shouldn't be on pins and needles constantly worrying about if we are doing it right.

Just doing our best and being aware of how we act and speak in front of our children is saying a lot.

I'm not perfect, I slip. But that's just a part of being human. I'm not a textbook with all the right answers. I try my best to read up on parenting, to read what others are doing, and to always question whether a certain method is the right method. Whether it is right for one family does not necessarily mean that it is the right one for all of us.

So yeah, I say that my child's artwork is beautiful, and I'll be the first one yelling "GOOD JOB!" whether they score a goal or not. Yes, I think my children are the smartest people to grace this Earth because they are. Because they amaze me every day. Because they are learning, and growing, is all that it takes to make me feel proud.

And I am. And I sure am not afraid to say it.


  1. I have read this article too. And I agree with almost all of your points. I absolutely agree with taking a step back and not constantly worrying about whether we are saying or doing the right thing. I think as our children grow up, they will know that they are loved and that their parents believe in them, and that is more important than making sure you phrase things perfectly. Thanks for reminding me about this article. Love your blog!

  2. Great post! I love your blog and agree with you on this topic!

  3. I think some praise is better than no praise, even if it's the "wrong" type of praise. I try not to say good job too much, but sometimes that's all you can really say!

  4. I used to work with school age children and went through many, many trainings about how to talk to them. This of course has helped me as a mother. The one I agree with most strongly in this list is not saying 'Good child/bad child.' We were always told that there is no such thing, only good and bad behaviors and that the behavior is not the child.
    I also agree with not telling your children how 'smart' they are, but complementing them on the hard work they did to get the good grade or accomplish whatever it is they did.
    Many people would say that by following these rules we are going over board on making sure our kids feelings don't hurt. While that's partially true, I think it's more important to make sure your kids have realistic expectations of the world and know that success comes from hard work.

  5. I think it's much mote beneficial to compliment our children on more than just their physical attributes. Don't get me wrong I do say "oh, you look so beautiful" "you're so pretty" etc but I also tell my daughter she's so smart, that she is a nice girl, she is a sweet girl etc. The world is going to tell her horrible things about herself; I want her to know who she is and that she's more than how she looks.

  6. I actually just came across this article last night, so it's funny that I'm reading this post today! I completely disagree with the article's #1 as well. Honestly, I think "You tried really hard on that" undermines their effort. It makes it sound like "Well….at least you tried!" whereas "Good job!" really makes them feel good about themselves. At least, that's how I see it. There are definitely a few on this list that would be extremely hard to keep from saying, but I do see a few good points as well. My little boy is only 8 months right now, though, so I still have a little bit to try to figure out things we're going to say or not going to say.


 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye