One out of 3 Americans regret some of the choices they have made in their life. They wish they could have done things differently. But big things start small. So many of us regret some things we have said to people, especially those who are closest to us.
It’s no wonder that words have the power to heal, but it can also hurt us deeply. So, if you are a child what your parents say to you is what mostly shapes your world. Parent’s words mould our world in profound ways, some good, some inherently harmful.
So people on r/AskReddit have shared what should never ever be said to a child, from alcoholic parents to divorced parents telling their child that they are “useles.” Scroll down to see the most toxic things parents have said to their kids despite having no concern how this could affect the child.
Certified life coach Susan who teaches adults and teens said that a lot of our emotional dysfunction comes from childhood experiences and messages.
“One of the most prevalent that I see is low self-esteem, which can result in anxiety, the inability to interact effectively in society, and being used and abused by the psychic vampires and bullies of the world,” she said and added: “Believe it or not, bullying, aggressive, and entitled behavior can also be caused by low self esteem!”
When Susan was questioned as to what one should never say to another person, Susan replied that it’s things like ‘Don’t be stupid!’ ‘Why can’t you be more like your brother?’ or ‘Don’t you ever learn?’
“Are you dismissive of your child’s opinion, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to you? Sometimes it’s not words, it’s behaviors that create bad feelings. Do you ignore your child? Do you comfort them when they’re crying, or do you let them ‘cry it out’? Do you and your partner fight in front of the kids (especially when it concerns them)?”
When looking at a positive side the right words and behaviors have the power to heal. It also helps to teach compassion, build self-esteem and give examples of what strong relationships look like. So, Susan teaches how parents should do that: “Listen to your children. Use reflective listening to engage them. ‘It seems like you’re upset. Want to tell me what’s happening?’ ‘I’m hearing that you’re really frustrated. Let’s see what we can do to solve the problem.’ ‘I feel like you’re very angry that I won’t let you go out with your friends. Do you understand why?'”
The tone of your voice is also important. According to Susan it’s the setpoint for the conversation. “Do you want to have a discussion, or a fight? Stay calm. If you or your child is getting upset, take a break. ‘I feel like I’m getting angry about this. Can we take a 10 minute break and finish the conversation when we’re both calmer?’”
Sometimes, it’s a disciplinary issue that needs addressing, and in those cases, Susan suggests using the XYZ Limit Setting Statement. For example, “’When you do X, I feel Y, and I’d like Z.’ For example: ‘When you go out with your friends without permission, I get angry and anxious. I’d like you to tell me where you’re going from now on.’”
Susan also mentioned that a child should be made to face consequences for bad behaviour that matches the crime. She said that “you wouldn’t ground your child for 2 weeks for not putting his plate in the dishwasher, and you wouldn’t take his phone away for a day if he got caught shoplifting.”
“Another great strategy for communicating with your children is to ask yourself, ‘What effect will these words have in the long run? What will I teach my child by saying this?’ Is what you’re saying going to teach them that it’s OK to shout at others? That they’re ‘bad’? Put yourself in their position. What are they experiencing?”
According to Susan “children’s reality is much different from what we experienced when we were that age,” and if you’re not sure, just ask!
Kimberly Koljat, a licensed marriage and family therapist said that “it is true adults often underestimate children’s capability of understanding the world around them, which can even have a negative impact on children and their sense of self.”
Parents not only can hurt a child with the use of the wrong words. The way parents look at the child can also cause the child to believe that their beliefs aren’t trusted or they are wrong. “It later creates difficulty in setting boundaries, making decisions, or maintaining a positive sense of self,” told Kimberly.
The family therapist also said that children are extremely observant “and pick up on cues from caregivers and significant support individuals in their lives. Young children’s main need in life is attunement, which is why we, as adults in their lives, have a very important role of co-regulating children and being emotionally congruent models for them.”
In fact, “Children often know when their parents are divorcing long before parents believe them to know, not because they ‘overheard’ them talking about it, but because of emotional cues leading up to the event of separation,” Kimberly explained.
As per the therapist, the biggest skill set we can give our children is helping them widen their emotional literacy. “As adults, we assume that means we teach them words to express how they feel, but that is only one way of knowing. Children are communicating and learning through their other ways of knowing—verbally, kinesthetically, visually. Helping them learn the four basic feelings of mad, sad, glad, and afraid are just the start, we have to help them understand more complex emotions and the important skills of empathy.”