Words matter, there is no doubt about it and what we say to our children can and will have a lasting
Recent research has shown that language has an impact. A new study has found that the phrase, "That's so gay!" can have lasting effects on students who consider themselves as bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgender (LGBT).
Words matter, there is no doubt about it and what we say to our children can and will have a lasting effect of their future happiness.
Studies conducted by Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago have shown that negative words have a much greater impact in our brain, something called the Negativity Bias. Hence insults and criticism hit us hard and make a more lasting impact on us. We can’t offset one negative with one positive and experts argue that it takes anywhere from 2 -5 positive words to offset a negative one.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy trying to remember each day how many bad and good things I have said to my children. Haven’t we got too much to do as parents anyway? I have to say though, in all of my 17 years in this field of parenting and teens I think there are some negatives that have more of lasting effects than others and are much more difficult to shake off. So here they are; the five things that you should NEVER say to your children.
1. You are stupid.
Can you believe that people say this? They do; I have heard it, whether it is said in jest or not, this saying has a lasting impact. This one is cutting to the core; don’t say it ever and if you hear someone saying it to your child, tell them immediately that it is not true.
2.That’s not a real job!
I remember sitting around the table with my family when they asked my daughter what she wanted to do when she left school. She said she wanted to be a writer, to which my mother replied, “That’s not a real job!” Really, how do you know? I immediately put them right of course, letting them know that J.K. Rowling would probably disagree. But it is not just in my own home I have heard this. I hear it again and again. Don’t ever tell your child that what they want isn’t real. You never know, they might just believe you and how sad would that be?
3. Maybe you should set your sights lower.
I see parents doing this all the time. Their child tells them their dream, the parent ums, ahs, pulls a few faces and then says that maybe they should set their sights a little lower. What! Don’t ever squash a child’s dreams; what gives you the right? Dreaming big is a good thing and while it may be difficult, it may not be impossible. Instead, tell them that it is a great idea, ask them if they are serious about it and if they know what it would take to do that. Encourage them to find out and if they are still serious about it, support them. Bingo!
4. You’re just not very..........
I often hear people saying this to young people with various words inserted, like confident. A child will mention something that they want to do or are interested in and the adults will reply something like, “I don’t see you doing that, you are just not very......” Insert whatever word here. You know, the child may just believe you and your answer may impact what they do or how they feel about themselves. I have worked with many teenagers who were hiding behind a banner of no confidence, which was actually given to them by their parents. Don’t ever give your child an excuse to not be their best. If you hear them say that they don’t feel very confident, just say that you don’t believe that is the case. Don’t label your children with a descriptive word that will be much more difficult to shake off later.
5. And last but not least..... Good girl/boy!
I know, we say these all the time, but they can have a lasting effect on our psyche, making us think that we are only worthy of love if we do or don’t do a certain thing. But we are worthy of love whatever we do! Try and resist the urge and instead focus on the behaviour, not the person, so instead say, “I really love it when you ......” Or, instead of that is bad; “What you just did then is not how we behave in this family.”
And lastly, remember that we are not all perfect and if you do catch yourself saying something negative to your child, apologise as soon as you can and tell them what you really meant.
Get more parenting tips from Sarah "The Top Ten Parenting Teen Tips to Transform your home"