Eight phrases psychologists never say to their children: these words can ruin a life
Child psychologists never say certain phrases to their children. With their professional and personal experience, they know what works and what doesn't when communicating with a child.
Perhaps the experts' recommendations will help you become a little more attentive to the most important relationships, HuffPost writes. The experts explained to the publication what phrases they try to avoid and why.
"I'm disappointed in you"
Child psychologist and parenting coach Anne-Louise Lockhart of New Day Pediatric Psychology said that she does not say this phrase to her children for several reasons. Firstly, it's "horrible" to hear, no matter how old you are. It can also lead to some undesirable consequences in the future.
When parents say they're disappointed in their child, the child may start to please them so they don't have to hear those hurtful words again, Lockhart said. This anxious and perfectionistic thinking can spread to other areas of life.
Or, the idea that a child is a disappointment can "become part of their personality, so they will do things that are even more disappointing because they think: 'This is who I am'.
"Therefore, parents may notice more defiant or oppositional behavior, more defiance and eye rolling," the psychologist said.
This phrase is not likely to calm down, but only to make the situation worse. Clinical psychologist Marta Deiros Collado said that when her child is overwhelmed, she knows that "telling him to calm down will lead to unpleasant consequences."
"You cannot hold back emotions that need to be released. It doesn't calm anyone down, it just makes an outburst more likely. Before you can calm down, the emotion has to come out, and what the child is trying to convey has to be heard," she says.
When Deiros is tempted to tell her child to calm down, she instead tries to control her own emotions and then reminds herself that "after the storm has passed, my child will find calm on her own."
Clinical psychologist Cindy T. Graham, founder of the Brighter Hope Wellness Center, says that the word "calm down" does not provide any guidance on how to deal with difficult emotions.
"Instead, I use clearer instructions, such as: " Look at me," "Let's do some belly breathing," or "Let's go to a place where we can cool down." Providing clear instructions on what the child should do helps to redirect attention to strategies that will help the child calm down," Graham explained.
"Say it normally"
According to Deiros, asking a child to "use words" when they are whining, cranky, grunting, and gesturing is "an unfair demand." At such moments, her daughter may not be able to fulfill such a demand, "even though she has a great vocabulary and is fully bilingual."
When "she speaks gibberish to me in a crying tone, I know she is stressed, and asking her to 'speak normally' is an unfair request," the psychologist said.
Instead, she voices what she thinks the child is trying to say in simple words and with the tone she would like to use. For example: "You are hungry. Do you want mommy to make you a snack?"
"Most often, she will repeat what I have said in the proper way. I know that over time, she will have a better chance of 'speaking normal language' and using the right tone to ask for what she needs because she has heard me do it over and over again," the specialist explains.
"You're so lazy"
Lockhart says she avoids this phrase at all costs. When children don't complete an assignment or chore, parents often assume that the child doesn't want to do it. But perhaps they lack the skills.
"Instead of calling them 'lazy', I think it's very important to teach, model and practice the task instead. It's important to find out what prevents them from completing a task and practice it over and over again. That's how you build strong skills and healthy habits," Lockhart said.
Sadness, anger, and frustration are normal emotions. According to Deiros Collado, the feeling of relief that comes with crying is "human and healthy." That's why she never tells her child to "stop crying" or anyone else, including herself.
"Tears are good for healing our emotional and physical pain. When tears come, I accept them and listen to what they are trying to tell me," the psychologist says.
According to her, she encourages her daughter to let her tears flow, explaining that this is normal.
"She is allowed to feel her emotions fully and deeply. And when the time comes, they will pass and she will be safe," explains Deiros Collado.
Christine Loiselle Rich, a child psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said telling a child to stop crying "doesn't show empathy" and can make it harder for children to open up about their feelings and lead to problems with parents in the future.
"It can lead to children suppressing feelings of sadness, which can lead to them hiding other emotions and experiencing anxiety or mood problems in the future," Rich added.
"You better appreciate what I've done for you"
Lockhart doesn't need gratitude from her children. She said many children do appreciate what their parents do for them, but they can also be "very self-centered and short-sighted" because they are children.
"They may not have the ability to accept another's point of view or show empathy. They may not be able to process their thoughts and feelings in a way that is clear and not overwhelming. Even if they are able to do all of this, they may not have the verbal ability to express it out loud," says the psychologist.
Parents may need to adjust their expectations of what gratitude looks like from a child's perspective. "Putting those adult expectations on their child's brain is completely unfair," Lockhart added.
"It's none of your business."
Graham doesn't usually use this phrase because he considers it "too harsh."
"It's just as easy to say, 'I know you'd like to be part of this conversation, but I was talking to so-and-so,'" she said.
And if you really don't want your children to engage in the conversation, don't have adult discussions around them, the psychologist added.
"Because I said so"
This commonly used parental line is "quite annoying," Graham says, so she tries not to use it in her life.
Hearing this phrase when you're looking for an answer "can be frustrating because it lacks an explanation of a decision - usually a refusal - about something meaningful to the person asking," she said.
With her children, she prefers to give an age-appropriate explanation of why she came to a decision.
"If the child keeps asking, I don't say: "Because I said so," but confirm his feelings - for example, "I know you wanted to..." And then I let him know that the conversation is ongoing: "...But I have already explained why. So I'm not going to talk about it anymore," the specialist says.
As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, a Harvard psychologist named 8 phrases that can gradually destroy love. According to her, relationships deteriorate quickly when one or both partners speak to each other with disdain.