Having read a parenting article on Mummypages.ie about what parents should not say to their kids I felt compelled to write a response. It is very easy for a blogger to dish out advice of do's and don'ts pressurising parents who are already trying to do their best with Political correctness without offering any solutions or putting situations in context. With that said I have tried to create a more constructive approach and give advice on how to deal with these situations rather than just telling parents what not to say. Each remark that appears in the linked article is addressed below. I hope it helps in some way, enjoy
Don't say: Girls/ Boys don't do that...
Lets use common sense here. There are certain things that girls and boys should not do like hitting, using bad language etc and would need to be corrected. But for all the other innocent stuff try not to worry. Kids will explore everything around them and are influenced by what they see and hear usually on TV at school or actions and behaviours they experience in the home. If you are uncomfortable about some behaviours the golden rule is to...
"TALK" to them and ask them where did they learn to do that, who showed you how to do that and gently distract them them by suggesting another activity to do or play. Get the information from them and then act accordingly
Don't Say: Your Dad is Wrong..
Of course this goes both ways and undermines the trust and respect a child will have for a parent and makes the job even more difficult and will most probably just cause a row between you and your partner...
Try saying, Ok I need to ask dad what he meant when he said that. or let me talk to dad about that and we will decide what the best answer is and come back and tell you. If dad is wrong, lets face it (I usually am) then allow the Dad to revert with the revised answer.
Your Being So bold/ mean/ unkind
All kids do need to be corrected when their behaviour is off so What can you do? My suggestion is to say...
Thats not a nice thing to do because.... finish the sentence explaining how the act will upset others or what the consequences of the action are and ask them why they did it. I'll say it again, "TALK" to them, explain to them.
Don't Say: Shut Up
OK an obvious one but sometimes it can come out on a bad day but please do your best to bite your lip with this one it is kinda horrible, I admit I am not perfect and have had moments and may have said it to Harry, who is a teenager, but I can say I have never said it when he was small or to Molly and Robbie. It is an expression that should never be used towards children so be aware it is damaging and do your best. I usually say..
Dad has a sore ear can can we all talk quietly so that Dad's ear doesn't hurt any more.
Don't Say: Why can you be more like your Brother/Sister.
Yes, everyone is different and individual so you can't ever pitch one child agains another regarding their ability, talent or skills when it comes to sport academia and social interaction, all you will do is batter their confidence and make them more self conscious. So identify their strengths and introduce them to activities that they are interested in and have a flair for. Remember not everyone is sporty or outgoing. However In saying that personally I do encourage the kids to do things by saying…
Look Robbie, Molly is ready to go can you get ready or we will be late. Robbie made it to the top of the hill first yesterday do you think you can keep up with him this time. There is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition in a passive positive way.
Don't Say: You are always making that mistake.
Again all kids are different and learn differently. Some children learn by repetition, others learn by seeing and then doing and there are certain things that kids and adults simply cannot do. If you have identified an occurring mistake it is clear that a different approach will be required. This is where you may have to talk to a teacher to get some tips and advice. Maybe ask your children to do the task again and talk you through each step this may give you an insight as to where the problem lies and act accordingly.
Don't Say: Ill never forgive you for that
I presume this is a a no-brainer as saying something like this can affect children for life right into adulthood depending on what happened. An example that comes to mind is Paul Gascoigne, one of the world best football players who unfortunately became an bad alcoholic. He was left feeling responsible for the death of little boy in his care when he was knocked down crossing the road. Paul Gascoigne was only 6 or7 years of age, clearly not his fault. An extreme example of a know but in a child's mind small things can be big things. I have no alternative suggestions on this one. Just Don't say it.
Don't Say: Ill do it for you.
Easy to say when your writing an article in a quiet house sipping a mug of coffee while the kids are all in school. Try not saying this when your late for a collection, late for school, a football match or ids party and one of the kids are taking half an hour putting on a sock. So again don't worry about those pressure moments and cause yourself more stress by taking this advice. Get the balance right. Kids can do so much so let them (I have written about this before in my blog) Pick the jobs you give them an make sure they can do them.
Try Saying, come on, your a big boy now you can do it, or, mummy needs your help do you think you can do it all on your own. Make sure to spot the difference between ability and laziness and pick your battles when you decide to make an issue of them not doing a task. Offer your kids some independence and let them realise that there is no magic fairy that comes into the house does things for them. A reward system is always a good tool to assist in this sometimes difficult parenting task.
Don't Say: How do I look
Ok lets not get too carried about worrying about the consequences of everything you say having a lasting impact on the psychological development of your kids. Yes there are certain words that you should avoid like does my bum look BIG in these or do I look FAT, of do I look PRETTY but asking your children how do I look I don't think is something really to worry about. Despite what the author of the article suggests appearances are unfortunately important in the world we live in and it is usually appearances that are picked up on and become the focus of bullying. Don't get confused of the difference between between appearance and grooming which is what I am suggesting. What I am saying is that children should have a healthy attitude towards appearance in that they brush their hair, brush their teeth, have an appreciation of cleanliness and looking nice without becoming self obsessed.
No one is perfect so don't beat yourself up about it. Keep talking to your kids, keep an open line of communication, encourage them, praise them, use positive language, don't shout at them (Well if you Can, Hands Up I do sometimes when they are hyper). Give them lots of hugs and and kisses and of course tell them you love them and guess what….
They'll be OK
Hugs and Kisses Benji
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