Kids often hear that they should "use their words" and always tell a grown-up how they're feeling. Parents and teachers alike tell them that if they don't explain the problem, they can't fix it or help them, so it's always better to be open and honest about whatever is going on. This goes for sharing toys during preschool or at recess or even sharing something with a sibling at home.
Parents definitely know that one of the best things to do is to communicate with their children. It's part of their growth and development. The focus is often on what words and phrases children should be using, such as minding their manners and saying "please" and "thank you."
What about what moms and dads say to their kids, though? Parents might not always realize that there are some things that they say that don't have a super positive impact on their little ones. In fact, they're not the best things to say at all.
Sometimes these phrases come from a good place, but they're actually not that awesome at all. Read on to find out 15 things that parents shouldn't say, along with five things that kids really love to hear.
20 Parents Shouldn't Say: "I'll Do It"
According to Care.com, it's not the best for parents to say "I can do it" to their kid. That's because it's better that they do it together instead of just doing it for them.
Every mom knows that children take forever to tie their shoes or walk down the street or, well, do just about anything. But that's okay. It's all part of them learning how to do things, and plus it's super adorable, so it's all good. If moms can stop saying that they'll do something for their child, it'll be better for everyone and the kid will feel much more empowered.
19 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Be A Big Girl/Boy"
Best Life Online doesn't think that "Be a good boy/girl" is a thing that parents should say, and we definitely agree with that.
Their rationale is: "Emotional maturity is both a skill and something that tends to develop with age, and not one that can be coaxed out of a kid before they’re ready."
That makes a lot of sense. Moms can agree that this line should go into the "let's stop saying this" category. It seems like focusing on the actions that a kid can take to be more independent (like saying "Let's clean up together" for example) could be a better option.
18 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Wait Until Your Mom/Dad Gets Home"
This is a statement that is super tempting to say. Every parent has probably said it, whether they wanted to or not. It's just something that tends to slip out, like repeating the statements that your own mom once said (you know, the ones that you swore would never come out of your own mouth once you became a parent).
Care.com doesn't think that parents should say "Wait until you dad/mom gets home" and we totally agree. The problem is that this is a threat, and that's not a good idea. If our own parents said this to us when we were children, did we like it? Nope, we didn't. We can understand that it wouldn't be a positive thing to say.
17 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Great Job"
Your child learned to ride a bike, swim, or tie her shoes. What do you say? "Good job" or "great job" seems like the most obvious thing.
According to Parents.com, "Research has shown that tossing out a generic phrase like "Good girl" or "Way to go" every time your child masters a skill makes her dependent on your affirmation rather than her own motivation, says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids."
The publication suggests mentioning an example so the child knows exactly what they did. We can relate to this: If our boss or friend complimented us, we'd want to know exactly why, right?
16 Kids Love To Hear: "I Believe In You"
The Mommy Mess says that kids love to hear "I believe in you." Every mom can agree with this, right?!
Saying "I believe in you" is so sweet and meaningful. Your child will enjoy hearing this because they will be inspired and motivated to do whatever they are about to do. This totally works when you're teaching them something or when you're trying to instill a new behavior, like cleaning up or sharing toys with their brother or sister.
And, hey, we could say this to the people in our lives who are grown-ups, too. It's a phrase that everyone, not just kids, always wants to hear.
15 Parents Shouldn't Say: "I Don't Have Time Right Now"
All Pro Dad suggests that parents stop saying "I don't have time right now" and there's one main reason:
It's pretty much telling your child that they're not important and that you have time for other stuff, not them.
No mom or dad wants to do that or suggest that. We would never want our spouse or friend or mom to think that we're too busy and focused on other things and people to spend time with them or notice them... so why would we tell our kid something like this?
It just doesn't make sense. It's definitely time to stop using this phrase.
14 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Go To Your Room"
The Huffington Post isn't big on this saying, either, and has an amazing and logical explanation as to why. This article suggests removing this phrase from your mom or dad vocab because you want kids to be social, but being all alone in their room really doesn't do much.
It also might not be useful at all. As a parent shared with us, "Whatever the kid is doing in their room, they're most likely not considering their behavior."
Isn't that so true?! If we were told to go to our bedroom as a kid, we most likely didn't sit there and think about how we acted and that we wished we had better behaved.
13 Parents Shouldn't Say: "I Do Everything For You"
"I do everything for you" is something else that Redbook magazine says is a truly bad thing to say to kids. The publication quotes author and expert Brad M. Reedy, Ph.D., the clinical director and co-founder of Evoke Therapy Programs. He said, "First, this just isn't true. Second, one of the most [hurtful] things for a child is the unlived life of a parent. Lastly, this leaves the child with no place to put their hurt and anger.
They think, 'If mom and dad are selfless and do everything for me then how can I be angry at them? The problem must be me'."
We can probably agree that this isn't something that we want to be encouraging, and even if we're really upset or feeling some pressure, we should never say it.
12 Kids Love To Hear: "It’s Okay, Slip-Ups Happen"
The Mommy Mess also thinks that parents should say this to their kids. It's definitely a sweet sentiment and really would be helpful to hear, so we can remember this one as something to say on a regular basis.
We even love hearing this from someone when we've done something wrong or our action didn't have the effect that we were looking for. We can see how it would work well for kids, too.
Our jobs as parents is to nurture our kids and take care of them and letting them know that, sure, these things happen but it's totally fine.
11 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Why Can't You Be More Like Your Brother/Sister?"
Playing the comparison game with your kids is never going to be a good idea. All Pro Dad suggests that parents stop saying "Why can't you be more like your brother/sister?" and we agree with this wholeheartedly.
Every child who hears this will think that their sibling is better than them in basically every single way.
They'll feel bad ASAP and they could honestly feel that way for a long time. Even if it's tempting to say this, we can remember that comparing our kids is hurtful and that our kids want to be loved for who they are. Our love shouldn't have anything to do with whether they're an athlete like their sibling or as artistic or good at Math as them.
10 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Practice Makes Perfect"
Parents.com includes this statement on their list of things parents shouldn't say because it's all about pressure.
Honestly, we can get down with ending our belief that everything and everyone should be perfect. We could even say that there's no such thing as perfection but that's totally another conversation.
The problem is that a kid will think that they should think of perfection as the end goal and if they don't come up with a perfect end product, their parent will think differently of them or be really upset. We would never want to make our kids feel that way.
9 Parents Shouldn't Say: "You're The Smartest Kid In The World"
Have we said this to our child? Yeah... and probably a lot. And we've probably heard family members and friends tell them as well.
According to Mind Body Green, saying this to your kid really isn't a good idea. As the publication explains, "Don't praise using superlatives. If you build your child up so much by praising everything they do, the world will just break them down later when you're not there to save them. Not being the absolute best at something shouldn't feel like [a mess-up]—no one's best at everything."
That is such a good point. It's amazing to teach your kid that being number one in everything they do isn't the goal (and it definitely shouldn't be).
8 Kids Love To Hear: "Go For It!"
When a kid hears "Go for it!" they know that they're not only supposed to be doing the action in question but that they should. And that's really inspiring to hear.
The Huffington Post suggests saying "Go for it!" to kids, and we couldn't possibly agree with this more. This will never be a bad idea, and it could be just the thing that your child needs to hear when they're nervous about something.
Are you at a birthday party and they want to join in on a game but are too shy? What about making a new friend at preschool or kindergarten? These are all times when saying "Go for it!" will go a super long way.
7 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Finish Your Food"
Best Life Online strongly believes that saying "Finish your food" could instill poor eating habits and that no one should be finishing everything if they're not hungry or if it's not something that they want to do. We can totally understand this but we also definitely understand why moms and dads use this phrase.
After all, sometimes it's just plain hard trying to get kids to eat dinner or any meal at all. And if your kid is pickier than others, it's even more difficult. But we can remember to not use this phrase, and everyone will be much happier and better off.
6 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Stop Crying Right Now"
When we're in a grocery store or public place, we might see a kid throwing a tantrum or crying and we hear the mom say, "Stop crying right now." It's definitely a common statement.
Redbook magazine doesn't want parents to say "Stop crying right now" and this is a phrase that many parents aren't big on. Why? The main reason is that it doesn't really work.
If we think about this for a moment, we can understand that we wouldn't necessarily stop feeling sad and crying if someone said, "Stop crying." Kids won't, either. Another reason to stop saying this phrase is that it's good for children to have emotions.
5 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Hurry Up"
Do we want to make our kids feel pressured? No way... and yet saying "Hurry up" will make them feel tons of pressure, according to Parents.com.
It's so much better to say something else... anything else, really. We know that kids walk a lot slower than adults and every mom has at least one hilarious (if slightly frustrating) story of trying to leave the house to do something or go somewhere and not being able to go for at least half an hour. But we don't want our kids to feel bad about this, and we shouldn't be saying "hurry up" to them.
4 Kids Love To Hear: "I Love Being Your Parent"
According to Popsugar, something else that kids will love hearing is "I love being your parent."
Okay, we might be getting a bit emotional hearing this because, wow, is this ever sweet. If we think about how we would have felt if our own parents told us this, we can see how positive this statement would be.
Of course, we do love being the mom or dad of our adorable little one, so why not let them know and really articulate it? It might not be something that we ever thought of, but it's such a brilliant idea. Let's definitely remember this one.
3 Parents Shouldn't Say: "Can't You Do Anything Right?"
"Can't you do anything right?" is something that All Pro Dad doesn't think that parents should be saying. We can definitely see why this would upset a kid.
Making your child feel like they're always messing up isn't what any parent would want. Any parent wants the exact opposite. Even when a parent is exhausted and frustrated and it's been a truly long day (or week), they should think carefully about their words and say something else.
Even if they don't mean to, they're only going to upset their kid if they say this specific phrase, so it's best to steer clear.
2 Parents Shouldn't Say: "You Make Me So Mad"
According to Redbook magazine, parents shouldn't be telling their kids how mad they make them. The reason? Parents want kids to be "calm" and so this won't help in that regard.
We can see how this would have a negative impact. And, honestly, we shouldn't be saying this to anyone. If our husband or wife is mad at us, do we really want them to straight-up say that this is how they're feeling? No, not exactly.
We should be super careful not to say "I'm so mad at you" and, instead, explain that our kid's behavior isn't what we want to see. There are a lot of things that we can say to still get our point across without making them feel so bad.
1 Kids Love To Hear: "I Love You"
The best thing that a mom or dad can say to their kid is definitely "I love you." According to The Mommy Mess, this is something that kids love hearing, and we couldn't agree more.
There will never be a moment when a kid wouldn't want to hear this. It's crucial to let kids know that you are so over the moon about them and that you care about them so much. This goes such a long way toward helping a kid grow and develop and become more confident.
And, of course, you want to say this before your kid becomes a teenager who says they don't want to hear it anymore (while secretly loving it, of course).