A look at how seemingly harmless comments can hurt your child’s self-esteem and confidence…

 

 

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As your kids are young and sensitive, what you say to them can hurt their feelings and self-esteem.

The truth is, you have a short fuse, thanks to the pressures of juggling work and family. So, you might unwittingly make nasty remarks to get your child to follow your instructions.

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, stresses that as long as these mean comments happen rarely, they won’t be harm your child’s well-being. “But when these statements are made persistently and the parents are frequently negative and punitive, then the children will be adversely affected.”

Worse, the damage may have already been done by the time you realise that your expressions were negative. Dr Lim explains why the statements you make may impact junior’s sense of worth. Take time to re-evaluate what you say, especially if you make the following phrases…

“But when these statements are made persistently and the parents are frequently negative and punitive, then the children will be adversely affected.””

1) “Don’t be such a cry baby/lazy bum/sissy.”

When you make demeaning comments about your little one’s behaviour, you are actually affecting your child’s self-image, Dr Lim points out. Your child may progressively become less confident and the lack of confidence can continue well into their adulthood.

2) “Get over it.”/“Stop crying!”

Your tyke usually cries or kicks up a fuss only when something bothers them or makes them feel uncomfortable, angry or sad. Dr Lim explains, “Suppressing one's emotions all the time may lead to bottled-up feelings and uncontrollable emotional outbursts and emotional dysregulation.” By telling your child to stop venting their strong emotions, you’ll be encouraging them to hide their feelings from you.

3) “We can’t afford it.”

Telling your mini-me that you can’t get them a new toy because you are out of money is an acceptable response ― if it is true. Otherwise, lying to your little ones will erode the trust you share in your relationship. When they’re in their tweens, your tyke may even resort to lying or cheating to get money.
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4) “… Because I said so!”

If your child isn’t able to understand the consequences of their actions — especially if their safety and life are at risk ― you might have to be firm in order to put a stop to junior’s behaviour. However, Dr Lim cautions against using this phrase frequently because you’re aren’t letting them see the issue from your perspective if you aren’t able to explain the rationale behind the decision you’ve made.

5) “Why can’t you be like your (name of sibling, cousin or classmate)?”

Comparing your kids to someone else can make them feel like inferior, which will lower their self-esteem. You’re also introducing rivalry as your child will dislike the kid they are being compared to, Dr Lim explains.

“Your child may not have confidence in their own decisions if their parents always criticise their choices.”

6) “You need to lose some weight, your clothes are getting so tight!”

Repeatedly making remarks about your child’s chubby appearance may cause your tyke to become fixated about their own body image. It distorts their body image and gives rise to unhealthy eating habits from an early age. The child may likewise determine their self-worth based on their body image instead of focussing on their personality and abilities.

7) “People will laugh at you for playing with that.”

Playing with toys that aren’t usually associated with your child’s gender is no reason for you to make them feel less about themselves. In the long run, such comments will make your child feel inferior and judge themselves to be mediocre, states Dr Lim. “Your child may not have confidence in their own decisions if their parents always criticise their choices.”

8) “I have nothing to say to you until you stop (acting a certain way).”

This remark tells your child not to come to you for help unless they are willing to do something your way. As a result, the child may feel rejected, which can damage their self-esteem, notes Dr Lim. As a result, your peewee may have little confidence to explore the world, especially since they feel they do not have parents who support them.

Photos: iStock

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