10 Things You Should Never Do That Can Emotionally Scare Your Child
Parenting is hard. As a parent, you often don’t realize how exactly what you tell your child affects them. We are often unable to perceive aspects of a situation from the perspective of a child and end up telling them certain things that can be very harmful for their mental development.
Here are 10 things that you should never say to your child that can be damaging to their mental growth.
1. Never compare your child to others.
Saying things like “Why can’t you be like X?”, “X did so much better than you” and comparing your child to his peers can be extremely damaging to your child. Comparisons can harm your child by damaging their self-confidence and self-esteem.
It is so important to realize that your child is unique and that they will learn at their own rate based on their mental capacity. By comparing your child with others, you stifle their growth and can actually cause a lot of negativism in the child, which can lead to rebellious behavior in the future.
Since they believe that nothing they do can please you, they start to embark on a path of attention seeking behavior.
2. Never pass body-shaming comments.
While parents are definitely responsible for giving a child a nutritious diet that is healthy for them, it is very damaging to a child’s image of their body if you call them “fat” or “ugly”.
It is very important that you explain the health benefits of your food as well as the taste of healthier foods instead of a negative perception of their weight.
Negative connotations of their weight can often lead to negative perceptions of their self-image which can heavily impact their self-perception and can potentially lead to harmful eating patterns and unhealthy body images.
3. Never reveal their secrets in public or breaking promises.
If your child divulges any embarrassing secrets to you personally, as a parent, you should provide them with sound advice and not go around talking about them to your family and friends.
This can be extremely harmful for their trust in you and can lead to a disruption of your relationship with them, and as they develop into adolescence, maladjusted behavior can start manifesting, like truancy, addiction and refusal to listen to any advice that you give them.
Remember that as children grow up, they also develop a sense of self-respect and it is very crucial to treat them as such, and not embarrass them in public. Same goes for fulfilling any promises you make to them.
4. Never portray your negative self-image.
Parents are people who children look up to. They shape their own personalities based on your image and the way you carry yourself. They model your behavior patterns. If you are constantly seeing yourself as “Rude” or “Angry”, chances are your child will want to grow up to be just like you.
When you are criticizing yourself and your body, children can pick up the pattern and feel the same way about their bodies. The same goes for telling your children about any maladjusted behavior– like using drugs or smoking that you partook in as a child.
Since they perceive you as a model, they will fail to see the harm in indulging in those behavioral patterns even if you tell them the facts and they will soon start using.
5. Never prevent them from crying or showing emotions.
One of the biggest parenting mistakes people make is asking their children to “stop crying” when they are showing any emotional outbursts. Preventing children from showing emotions can have terrible side-effects and can mentally and emotionally scar them forever in the future.
It is very important to teach your children that it is okay to feel sad, happy and angry. This is especially applicable to your male children.
While boys are often told that “boys don’t cry”, this actually leads to apathetic adults who have difficulty in being emotionally sensitive to others and a number of other behavioral issues. It is very important to teach your children that it is okay to express their emotions.
6. Never belittle their experiences.
Telling your child that “it is not a big deal” is extremely harmful. While something may be small and insignificant to you, to them it can be a very big deal. Belittling their hurt can lead them to see you as someone who doesn’t understand them.
Not only do they have to then deal with the pain from the original issue, but also embarrassed and ashamed about how upset they are to top it off. This is applicable to times when they get hurt or get a scrape as well as when they are scared of something.
Saying “it is not a big deal” is not at all helpful to either children or adults and doesn’t help anyone calm down. It is important to talk to them about the matter and explain why it is not as bad as they imagine without telling them that they are over-reacting.
7. Never tell “Stop being such a baby”.
Parents often get extremely frustrated when children throw temper tantrums, wet the bed and express other behavioral patterns more common to toddlers. It is very important to prevent saying things like “Stop being such a baby” and “Big girls/boys don’t act like this”.
It is very important to understand why your child is acting in a particular way. Generally, when children are feeling nervous, stressed, anxious, or scared they fall back into their previous behavioral patterns.
If your child is wetting the bed or throwing temper tantrums, you should look at the situation at hand to figure out exactly what is bothering them and talk them through it.
8. Never call them needy or selfish and that you have to do everything for them.
First of all, if you are doing everything for your child, you are teaching them to be dependent on you. It is extremely important that you let children do things for themselves to help them hit the milestones that are crucial to their brain development.
Telling them that you do everything for them also doesn’t help them as they feel worthless which affects their self-worth. Calling them “selfish” or “needy” teaches them to deny their needs and can lead them to lose themselves.
In this case, your capacity as a parent is limited and you are asking your child to be smaller to fit your needs instead of letting them grow.
9. Never dictate and make rules.
While often parents use statements like “because I said so”, “It’s my way or the highway” and “You live under my roof, you follow my rules” when they are unable to use logic, this pattern of behavior is extremely damaging to the child.
It doesn’t help them understand why what they are doing is wrong and can actually lead to raising a disrespectful and delinquent child who don’t see you as figures of authority.
Similarly, if you are using any threat like “Don’t make me ground you” and don’t follow through, it can lead to them seeing you as powerless and a bluffer.
10. Most important – Never say “I hate you”.
While your child will undoubtedly tell you that they hate you some day or the other, it is important that you never repeat it back to them. It can be extremely emotionally scarring for a child and cause them deep hurt.
By understanding how these sayings damage your child, you can develop a better and positive parenting style that enables them to grow and develop into better human beings with a strong bond with you that continues to develop throughout your lifetime. Good luck.