Being a parent is hard work! You have good days and bad days. Whenever we decide to be parents, we always want to be better than our own. However, sometimes that isn’t the case, and we find ourselves reusing toxic behaviours we’d swore off. Now bad days are standard and shouting and screaming whilst it isn’t great does happen. However, some repeated behaviours are not okay to do all the time.
Today, I will be talking about some of the toxic things parents say to children that are harmful and why you need to stop doing it.
Comparisons to other children
Parents will always compare their children when children are badly behaved or aren’t doing as well in something like another child. Mainly a family member. With lines such as ‘ x cleans their room more often why can’t you be like them!’ And it hurts for many reasons.
The first reason is that it’s an unfair comparison that can make the child feel like a burden. And that the parents don’t want them and want a better child. Then if the child knows them personally and knows that the other child in comparison isn’t better than them, it makes you look like an idiot. And makes the child feel like you don’t understand them, and in general, it’s frustrating.
It can also make the child have low self-esteem and damage their relationship because they have to compete.
Calling them derogatory names
Whenever we’re angry at someone, we call them something like an idiot (or much worse.) Now when there’s genuinely a problem with a grown-up, it’s more passable. However, it’s usually because they’ve done something we don’t like when we do it to children. Or you are already annoyed, and they’ve exacerbated it. Which, I can understand why you’d be derogatory as most times it’s your natural response. However, as natural as it might be, it doesn’t mean there isn’t an impact.
Calling a child derogatory names will make them feel like rubbish for very unnecessary reasons. It can lead to them not communicating as well as usual! Because they don’t want to be an idiot and a burden, primarily as they can’t process the situation/words like an adult. On top of that, it’s another hit to their self worth and motivation.
And before someone says, ‘but I was fine when it happened back in my day.’
Just because you are fine doesn’t mean your child will be. You are two completely different people.
You cost too much!
We all know that raising a child can be expensive, time-consuming and isolating. You will feel annoyed at all those things, some more than others, and it is okay to feel like that. However, what isn’t okay is saying off-hand remarks to your child with lines like, ‘You are expensive.’ ‘You cost me a lot of money.’ ‘You are a nightmare to look after.’
Don’t say this to your child. It will make them feel like a burden. Even for the things they can’t control, they will begin to withhold their needs, whether it be emotional or physical.
It can increase stress, lower self-worth, and lead to further communication problems in the future for worry of being a burden.
If you feel a need to vent about these things (as all parents need to do, it’s only human.) Talk with another adult or person in your life that is a parent!
Boundaries and personal autonomy
We all hate being forced what to do when we don’t want to do something. The same goes for our children! If your child doesn’t want to pursue a particular activity or keep contact with a specific family member for a good reason, then you’ve got to let them do that and either fail or succeed, whether you like it or not! They set their boundaries, have their personalities, are not extensions of you. And will not live your dreams, they will fulfil their own, and parents have to respect that.
Now, this isn’t saying let them get away with things, i.e. not doing homework, not eating their veggies etc. But when it comes to who they talk to and how they express themselves, you’ve got to let them do it. Don’t get me wrong, keep an eye on it and don’t let it get to an unhealthy stage. But, for the most part, trust your child.
Bad days are okay!
If you don’t, you’ll find that they won’t come to you with their problems. They might be more troublesome in future, and you’ll find that they may grow to resent you for unsolicited opinions on things they should have some or all control over!
Bad days are okay! Everyone has them. Even parents, you guys are human and don’t have superpowers even though people treat you like you do. However, always minimise the amount you do the behaviours above. It will make your child feel like rubbish and severely impact their development in future.
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