When it comes to our little ones, it is easy to forget how much they take in, especially when it comes out of our mouths. Our kids are always listening, and we need to make sure to avoid certain phrases that could do more harm than good.
I know WAY easier said than done, mama. Plus it's impossible to be perfect at this all of the time.
But, as parents, we should always want to be the source of advice and support for our kids, so our words and the conversations we have with our kids should reflect that.
Since I have a toddler who is constantly talking, asking questions and making demands, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of common things that we say as parents that can often be confusing or harmful to our kids.
"Leave me alone!"When we've had a long day, and we feel like we haven't had a second to ourselves, it can be easy to lose our cool and snap at our little ones. But saying something like this will only reinforce to our children that they are the reason for any frustration we've been feeling throughout the day. Try your best to set small breaks for yourself throughout the day, but make sure you're setting some realistic timing. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to say, "Mama needs a break for a few minutes." If we want to have our children model that same type of behavior, it's okay to let them know when it's time to take a break, and the appropriate way to voice their feelings.
"Just wait until Daddy gets home!"Or mommy for that matter. As parents, we need to make sure that our children's behaviors are addressed as they happen, and then forgotten. Nothing is worse than feeling like you can't escape a poor decision you made, and the same goes for our children. If you feel like there is something that your spouse would want to know about, make sure and let your little ones know, "We'll probably need to talk to daddy about this later, because he might have some ideas of how we can be better tomorrow, okay?" Try your best to not use the other parent as a threat for your child, especially when the other parent may not respond the way that you would hope. You'll just be setting yourself up for an even more frustrating situation.
"You know better."There is definitely a chance that they don't know better. This is another example of when we expect something from our kids that we actually haven't addressed with them yet. Just because we know that you shouldn't bite another kid at the playground for playing with the toy you wanted, doesn't necessarily mean our little ones will. When situations like this come up where you feel like they should know better, you should sit down with them and explain how to react in those type of scenarios, and why certain behaviors are not okay.
"We can't afford that."There are a lot of things our kids don't have control over, and our financial situation is definitely one of those things. When our children ask us for things, most of the time they are completely unaware of what we do or don't have money for, so it's irrational for us to explain away a child's simple question with an answer that they don't understand. If our children are asking us for things we know we won't be able to afford, it's okay to say something like, "That's not something on our list for today," or "What are some things you can do at home to earn the money for that?" This should help to solve a couple of problems: It will teach our kids that they need to work for things they want, and it will give you some time to save a little here and there to help them afford it.
"None of your business."I think we can all remember a time when we overheard a conversation between our parents, and got worried about what might be going on. Well our kids can also be curious about what's going on at home, and it's important for them to know that we can include them in conversations to help them feel safe and secure about our relationships at home. When you feel like your kids have an idea of something going on that is outside of their developmental range, try saying something like, "Mama and daddy are working through something that is making us worry a little bit. But we love you, and we are so happy to be your parents." Resist the urge to dismiss their questions, and try your best to make them feel like you hear and understand their concerns.
"Stop bothering me."Like it or not, this is something we sign up for as parents, so it's a little bit silly for us to expect our kids not to bother us for things like food, play, or even to go outside. We need to make sure that we are being attentive to our children, and we should consider that our first priority. There are definitely times when our kids can push our buttons, and they absolutely can get the whiney stage. When they've reached that point, try saying something like, "Mama has already answered that question," or "Mama needs to get some things done. Can you go play with your toys for a few minutes?" Long story short, we all lose our temper a little when we are constantly up on our feet getting things for our little ones. But try your best to keep your cool, and take little breaks so you don't get burnt out.
"See what happens when you don't listen?"
This is just a parent's way of saying, "I told you so!" When we tell our child not to do something because the end result is going to end in tears, it is down right impossible not to think this, much less say it. But as we all know, there is almost always a better way to say what first comes to our mind. If you were reminding your child not to climb up onto the couch because they would fall down, and then (shocker) they fell, you might comfort them by saying, "It hurts when we fall down off the couch. It's probably safer not to climb up there, right?" Waiting for them to affirm that they are making a decision and an agreement to not do that again will help them understand the reason behind the decision. Try your best to turn their lack of listening into a learning moment, and teach them that you only want them to be safe and happy.