While talking to kids, here are some phrases we may use in the heat of the moment, which can be hurtful for the little ones:
You don’t feel that way
Instead, try asking children why they feel a certain way, so that they feel heard. Telling them they don’t feel a certain emotion invalidates their opinion and makes them feel unimportant.
Criticise the behaviour, not the person. Explain to your child why a certain action is not alright, but labelling them selfish makes it seem like a character trait, which they have no control over.
If your child is crying after a fall, that might not be the best thing to say. Because, he or she is, most likely, not fine. Give a little comfort and then you can reassure the child by saying “You’re going to be fine”.
Don’t rush kids to get ready or put away stuff because you’re ready to get out of the door or it’s time for dinner. Give them adequate time before pushing them, which can leave them stressed out. And, if you do have to hurry them up, give a few adequate reminders before saying the magic words!
Why didn’t you get an A?
As long as your child is putting their best foot forward, it should be fine. Instead, go through the test paper in detail and find out if there’s scope to improve the next time. Avoid putting undue pressure of scoring on kids.
You’re so smart
This may sound like a compliment, but it actually says that the child did well not because she worked hard, but just because she’s smart. So, it may be a good idea to identify and praise the actual act that put her ahead.
Why can’t you be more like your sibling?
Because, well, each child and individual is unique and while there’s lots to learn from each other, outright comparisons can be hurtful.
What’s wrong with you?
This can be a putdown for anyone, particular a child, questioning their entire personality. Instead, it’s better to ask ‘what’s wrong with you today?’ or ‘are you feeling okay?’ or simply focus on the behaviour and discuss the provocation. Remember to listen with an open mind and not be accusatory.