A lot of things we say to our children are things we have picked up when we were children ourselves. Most often, they even escape from our mouths without having considered what message we’re actually bringing to our children. Mostly, these sayings are part of an attempt at discipline, but they really get us nowhere. They break our connection and only foster resentment in our children.
- I wish you were more like (insert person of choice). It seems strange that in a society that values individuality and uniqueness above all, children are being compared to others all the time. Wether it is to their siblings or their peers, the compare game seems to never stop. And parents are often tricked into comparing by their own peers, by magazines and ‘expert’ opinions. We’ve all heard the silly ‘Does he sleep through the night’ and ‘She’s much wilder than her brother’. Doctors and parenting magazines rush to tell you at what age your child should reach this or that milestone and frown at you if he’s late... We’re urged to feel proud when they’re ahead.
- Go away! Children can be overwhelming, especially when you’re tired or ill, and you just wish you had a moment to yourself. And sometimes we get so angry we just want them to be there in that moment. However, your unconditional presence and love as a parent is of the utmost importance. Telling your child to go away is telling him he is unwelcome, unloved, and this by his most trusted person. If you feel angry and need to be away from your child, tell him you are angry and want to take a time out. You should be the one to leave the room. If you’re feeling so tired and overwhelmed that you are incapable to be in the same room with your child, find a way to have a moment to yourself, without having to send your child away.
- I told you so!
- How old are you? This is a really silly question, if you look at it rationally. Your child is as old as he’s ever been, he’s just acting up to his emotional age. And surely, you as the parent should know how old your child is
- Act your age! If you are telling your child to act his age, he probably is. What’s wrong in this picture is not your child’s behavior, but your perception of what it should be.
- I’ll give you something to cry about! This is wrong on more than one level. First of all, it completely devaluates the child’s feelings, telling him that crying is somehow wrong, while it is just a expression of a normal, healthy emotion (anger or sadness or grief). Secondly, you are threatening your child, which is never a way to make him feel secure and loved and third you are threatening with something (what??) that would deliberately cause the emotions you didn’t condone in the first place... Very screwed up indeed.
- Don’t make me come over there! In this case, the parent is threatening with bringing himself closer to the child... It is very sad if your child should be scared by your physical presence. Again, this is not the way to foster attachment and connection.
- Do you want a spanking? Not one child will answer yes to this question, so why do parents keep asking it? Threatening your child with physical violence is never a good idea.