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It’s almost dinner time. You’re peeling and chopping while the stew is boiling on the stove.
Two of your kids are screaming and fighting. And another kid is in the corner crying that his Lego building has collapsed.
You’ve had a long hard day at the office and all you want right now is 5 minutes to yourself.
How do you react?
Do you yell “Stop crying!”. Or maybe “I don’t care who started it!”.
Do you ignore your kids, waiting for them to sort it out on their own? Or, do you try to find a solution by discussing it with your kids?
Can Yelling at a Child be Harmful?
Yelling at your child, is one of the most common errors that adults do, according to the Swedish psychologist Bo Hejlskov Elvén in his book Sulky, Rowdy, Rude?: Why kids really act out and what to do about it.
Research shows that we yell more at our children today than we did 30 years ago.
“It used to be more common that we grabbed the child. But for some children, scolding may actually be worse than physical intervention,” Elvén says to DN.
But then, how is one to reprimand a child doing wrong?
Discussing the situation with the child at its level, and trying to come up with a solution together is much better.
Although it will test your patience for sure, I promise that you will get a more positive life and a more peaceful child, if you replace the following phrases.
10 Things You Should Never Say to Kids & What to Say Instead
Here are 10 things you should never say to your kids – and what you should say instead:
1. “I know it’s not fair, life’s not fair, get used to it.”
Well, I do know that this saying is absolutely true. But a four-year-old will never understand this, and it’s way too soon for them to learn it too.
I want to teach my son that the world is a positive place where anything is possible. But by telling him that the world is an unfair place, makes the outlook for his future, negative.
Try this instead: “I can tell that you’re upset about my decision.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your kid too.
2. “Stop crying!”
It’s never fun to deal with kids who are crying or whining. Sometimes it feels like they’re crying over nothing but the fact is that most of the time when a child is crying, it’s for a reason.
It’s important to encourage kids to express their emotions — not bottle them up. Learning to identify and express feelings in a positive way helps kids develop the skills they need to manage them effectively.
Try this instead: “You look upset, what can I do to help?” is much better to say and with that phrase, you’re actually trying to find a solution.
3. “Here, I’ll do it.”
You’re stressed. Your kid took forever to finish his breakfast and if you don’t hurry up, you’ll be late for work.
I know the feeling too well. But if you help your child with everything, they won’t learn to do things for themselves worst-case scenario, they will think that you don’t believe in them.
Try this instead: “Let’s do it together!” you’ll teach your kid teamwork and eventually, to do things by himself.
4. “I don’t like you right now.”
Hold it right there! Don’t you ever say this to your child!
There is never an excuse for making your child feel disliked or unwanted. Even if your child hits you or calls you a name, you don’t dislike them. Am I right?
The truth is that there’s nothing your kids can do to make you not like them.
Try this instead: “I don’t like what you’re saying/doing right now” is way closer to the truth.
5. “Don’t do that! No more drawing for you.”
Yeah, you’re right. That one isn’t all that terrible to say.
But it has quite a negative ring to it, right?
My son loves to draw. And he LOVES to draw on walls, my bed, the floor, the fridge, and everything else that’s not allowed. And yes, he’s four and knows the rules.
Try this instead: “Walls are not for drawing on, paper is for drawing.” Sometimes, even older kids need to be reminded of what’s OK to do.
6. “I can’t hear you!”
Is something wrong with your hearing?
No, I didn’t think so. But that’s practically what you’re saying.
You need to be clear when speaking to children. What do you really want them to do?
Try this instead: By saying “Please speak louder/more clearly” instead, you let your child know what you want them to do and avoid being misunderstood.
7. “Be quiet!”
When your kids are already yelling, it’s easy to just scream out something on a reflex. They are yelling and you’re trying to get them to quiet down by yelling. Most of the time this won’t work.
Messages that are spoken out loudly, are the ones that often do not get heard.
Try this instead: The next time that your kids are yelling, try to calmly ask them to “Please lower your voice.”
8. “Stop hitting!”
Fighting siblings can be a handful. And children who hit their parents can be even more frustrating.
But, I’ve found that most times when a child hits you, it’s because they can’t express what they’re feeling. Maybe they’re missing the right vocabulary or they just don’t understand what they’re feeling.
Try this instead: Help your child to put words on their feelings and ask them to “Please keep your hands to yourself.”
9. “Why can’t you ever clean up after yourself?”
Oh, cleaning. Do moms ever do anything other than picking up after other family members? It would be really neat if we could get our little ones to pick up after themselves.
Try this instead: Instead of using cleaning as a punishment, try to ask your kids nicely by saying “It would really be helpful if you would put away your toys when you’re done playing.”
10. “I don’t care who started it!”
Well, you should care! If you don’t care, then the child that started the fight is free to do whatever they want, while the victim will be blamed equally. And you should definitely care wheatear your child acted out of aggression or self-defense.
Try this instead: It’s better to solve the problem by discussing it with your kids. “You two are really angry with each other. Why don’t you both tell me what happened.”
It’s always important to think before you speak. This is true when we speak with other grown-ups but maybe even more important when we talk with our own children.
Looking for more parenting ideas? Be sure to check out 21 Ways To Improve The Relationship With Your Child When You’re Feeling Disconnected From Each Other and How To Get Alone Time As A Mom (No It’s Not Selfish, And Here’s Why).
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