Parenting

20 things you should never say to your children

20 things you should never say to your children

20 things you should never say to your children
20 things you should never say to your children

Children become more impressionable and receptive as they get older. What we expose them to is most likely what they will carry with them for months or even a lifetime, so it’s critical to always be aware of what we say to our children in order to avoid injuring them with our words.

The way we speak to our children has an impact on how they perceive the world and themselves. So it’s only natural that we speak to them in a healthy way in order to help them grow and feel supported and loved.

20 things you should never say to your children

The following are some things we should never say to our children:

“Stop crying, everything will be fine.”

Children are made to feel guilty for expressing emotion when adults tell them to stop crying. Demonizing your child for doing something that children do naturally isn’t helpful, no matter how frustrating it is for parents. You’re effectively dismissing their feelings.

Try instead saying: “What’s the problem? Why are you so upset?” – and not in a combative way.

Your child will be more likely to express her feelings and tell you about the problem in the future.

“I take care of everything”

While it is true that parents do a lot for their children, reminding them of it all the time can make them feel like a burden rather than loved. It is commonly used to discipline a child, but it is a rather unusual method.

“We do things for you because we love you,” say instead, “so please do [ ] for me.”

“You did a good job, but you could have done better.”

To begin, any compliment that ends in “but” should be avoided because it dilutes the meaning of the compliment. Small victories are celebrated to encourage children to strive for excellence. Using the word “but” will make them feel as if they haven’t done enough to make you proud, which will cause more harm than good.

Try instead saying: “I am pleased with your performance. I’m confident that you’ll continue to improve!”

“Do not eat that or you will gain weight.”

This is an absolute no-no. It instils in children an excessive awareness of their bodies and causes them to question their peers’ eating habits. Body image is a highly personal and sensitive topic, and establishing one at such a young age can be detrimental.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat that because it’s not very good for your health,” say instead.

“Don’t be such a baby” or “It’s not that big of a deal”

When your child is upset, this is one of the worst things you can say to them. It invalidates their emotions and makes them hesitant to speak openly with you. Children should feel free to express their emotions, and telling them “it’s not such a big deal” will make them doubt themselves.

“Tell me how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling this way,” instead.

This will help you understand your child and will let them know you’re available if they need to talk.

“Do I have to say it a hundred times?”


This is a timeless classic. You’re essentially nagging your children about how much you need to nag by telling them this, which isn’t getting through to them.

Instead, say, “I’ve already told you this, but could you please…”

This way, children will feel obligated to comply, rather than forcing you to repeat yourself.

“Big girls/boys don’t do that,”.

“Big girls/ boys don’t cry,” for example, is frequently followed by “crying is only for babies.” Allow children to be children, whether they are crying or doing anything else. Never use their age as an excuse if you are unhappy with something.

Instead, say, “I don’t think doing [ ] is a good idea because [ ].”

“It’s only for boys and girls.”

Limiting what boys and girls can and cannot do based on their gender teaches them that there are certain ways that boys and girls should behave, and that if they do not comply, it is wrong. It confines children to gender roles that are harmful to their development.

Try saying nothing at all instead.

“You have disappointed me.”

While disappointment is a valid emotion, the word itself can be frightening. Many people genuinely believe they are a disappointment to their families as a result of being told this repeatedly throughout their lives.

“I’m not happy with your actions,” say instead. Please refrain from doing [ ] in the future.”

“You’d better follow my instructions or else”


This sounds, without a doubt, more like a threat than anything else. Using fear to discipline children is harmful and frequently fails. Explain why you want something done, and they’ll be more likely to do it.

Instead, say something like, “Please [ ] because [ ].”

“I told you so” or “I’m an adult and you’re a child”

Although the “my way or the highway” approach has been used for a long time, it is not the best way to discipline children. It also gives children the impression that their opinions are invalid simply because they are young.

Rather, try explaining why you feel the way you do about something.

“Because you live in my house, you must follow my rules.”

Another thing that many parents enjoy saying. “This is my house; you’re just living in it,” for example. Both of these statements make your child feel unwelcome in their own home, bordering on burdensome.

Instead, say, “You’re aware of the house rules.” Please follow them.”

“I was raised in that manner”

Although we can learn a lot about parenting from our upbringing, dismissing a child’s request or condemning their actions because “that’s how I was raised” is narrow-minded. Instead of immediately shutting down your child with that line, explain to them why you feel that way. It can be used as an example, but it should not be the main point of your argument.

Instead, say, “I don’t think doing [ ] is a good idea.” My parents would tell me that [ ] because [ ].”

“You look exactly like your mother/father!”

When you use this line on your child, you’re not only letting them know that what they’re doing is wrong, but you’re also making them feel like they inherited it from one of their parents and shouldn’t be held responsible. It also informs your child of your disagreements with their other parent, potentially causing them to feel divided.

Instead, say, “I’m not satisfied with [ ] because [ ].”

“We simply cannot afford it.”

Making children aware of financial difficulties at a young age can more than anything else instil fear in them.

“I can’t buy you [ ] because we’re saving our money for more important things,” say instead.

“I told you so.”

When something goes wrong, the last thing anyone wants to hear is this. Yes, you were correct in your warning to your child, but comforting them rather than slamming it in their face will make them feel more open to talking to you in the future.

Instead, say, “I’m sorry to hear about [ ]… let this serve as a lesson.”

“I wish you were more like [ ]”

When a child is told this, their self-esteem can suffer greatly. When they are compared to a sibling or anyone else, it makes them feel inadequate.

Instead, try not to compare your child to others in order to persuade them to do something.

“When I was your age, I smoked, drank, and did drugs.”

Telling your children about certain experiences is not always the best idea because they may believe that if they do it themselves, they will be exempt from the consequences. The argument that “but you said you [] when you were my age” will always bite you.

Instead, discuss the dangers of smoking, drinking, or using drugs with your children.

“It’s just a white lie,”

When children become familiar with the term “little white lie,” they believe it is acceptable to use it on a regular basis.

Instead, before the lines between lies and little white lies become blurred for them, explain when it’s acceptable to use white lies to be polite and avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

“You’re too young to consider it”


If you suppress a child’s curiosity, they will be less likely to ask you questions in the future and will seek answers from less reliable sources.

Instead, say, “I’m not ready to discuss this with you right now, but we’ll definitely discuss it later.”

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