8 emotionally damaging things to avoid saying to your child

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.