Sometimes I think child psychologists don’t have children!
My daughter of age 18 emailed me this article she read, she was shocked at some of the advice and could not believe the advice these people were suggesting to new parents or any parent for that matter. The article is titled 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids they state that “These everyday phrases may actually do more harm than good.” It was written by Michelle Crouch from Parents Magazine.
My daughter and I have an amazing mother daughter relationship, I have had mothers ask me how we did it and can I give them advice on how to fix their relationship with their daughter. Ha-ha but easier said than done, I worked hard over the years to understand how to do this with my daughter. Mother daughter relationships can be a challenge, my own relationship with my mother is fire and ice, no more like a volcano eruption. It is very hard to have a conversation with my mother as it almost always ends in feeling getting hurt or anger or something of a negative effect and definite boundaries stomped on. I have tried to build a relationship with her, tried as hard as anyone can and sometimes I have come to the conclusion it is just not possible to have a close loving and embracing relationship so I just try my best to keep the peace and leave when it starts to get bad. To be honest the main reason for our problems I think is boundaries are not respected, my boundaries are not respected and she stomps right over them like a tank and respecting each other’s boundaries is very important. Another very important thing for moms is to remember that your job as a mom changes as the child grows up, as a parent we must back off more and more as they grow up so they can be their own person and so you both can have a great relationship. You will always be mom and when she needs you to me motherly she will ask for it and never should we push our motherly smotherlyness on them. So to the article that I read, I tried to keep an open mind but to me it was load of s**t for the most part.
Let’s talk about the 10 things parent.com says we are never to say to our children. In the article it tells you were these ridiculous ideas came from and their reasons so I will not repeat the location again in my post, you are welcome to go to the web post at parent.com and see for yourself. In the blue ink is the parent.com idea and the green ink is my rebuttal or response idea on the topic.
- Great job – It says that you shouldn’t say it when the child masters a skill or they become dependent on the external affirmation instead of self-motivation. I disagree 100%, what is the one thing that encourages people to do better? Hearing they did a good job! What is the one and most effective way to get more out of people? Telling them how they are appreciated or the work they did was wonderful and that you would love to see more of it! If you hold back the praise then the child is more likely to feel they are not good enough, they are more likely to lash out because they never feel that all there hard efforts are passed over and they are less likely to keep trying to please you, themselves and less likely to try to overcome obstacles.
- Practice make perfect – It tries to say that if you make mistakes it is because you didn’t try hard enough. Disagree 100%, no place in the words practice makes perfect does it say you made a mistake so you are a failure. It does tell the child that if you want to be good at something you need to work for it, earn it and you will be rewarded for your hard work by becoming good at that thing you practiced. If there ever is that giant leap to “I’m never good enough” and if you are parent with your heart and not image in mind then this leap will not be there you can easily encourage your child to understand that when they first started how did they do? And then look at how they are doing now after trying so hard? Show them that they are improving and with some things in life we just may never become the best at it but are we at our own personal best at it? Practice makes perfect has nothing to do with comparison to anyone else, it is our own personal best!
- You’re okay – this one is saying that the child is not really badly hurt and their feelings are irrelevant or dismissed. I disagree 100% again! When you say to a child that’s hurt themselves they are okay or going to be okay it is reassuring them that they are being taken care of and you are in a sense saving them. Reassurance is a powerful tool to help keep a child calm and to put into perspective the situation. As a child the world seems to revolve around them and telling them they are okay and you are there to help them is a big deal, if you coddle a child too much you are giving them no benefit of how to talk to themselves when you are not around. They can care for themselves by telling themselves they are okay and be able to put things into perspective to be able to move forward and passed the injury or hard times in their future. For example, I fell through the ice all alone and managed to climb out myself thankfully. I was freezing, scared and half drowned, I kept telling myself “I’m ok, I just have to get home.” I told myself this over and over again and it gave me strength because I was able to put into perspective my situation and be able to focus on what was needed. If I had never been told “you’re okay” I would have sat right there on the ice and cried and died of hypothermia because I would have been overly coddled and not been taught to put into perspective the situation that I am in and I am ok right now and if I get home I will be able to get help.
- Hurry up – They are saying this adds stress to the child. Oh my goodness do I disagree 100%. Since when is a little stress a bad thing? We actually need a little stress not a lot just a little to stimulate our senses, and saying hurry up is not adding stress it is actually teaching time management and respect for those around you. The world does not stop because you want to doddle, in fact if you doddle you will miss out so really hurry up! It is not right that you tie up the line with your desire to take your time, it slows down others and really it creates bad emotions towards the slow person as the years go on. I personally have troubles keeping an employee that takes there time on the job, if I can have someone who can do the job faster than they get the job and the slow person is let go. So teaching these lessons very early in life is a benefit to the child for years to come.
- I’m on a diet – They say keep it to yourself. Ok this one has a point. If you are trying to lose weight you really do not want to pass your negative self-image onto the child, they get that already from every direction in media, school, friends etc. It is true though that an overweight parent you have a higher chance to have overweight children. So as far as “on a diet” should really be a family affair and we are now eating healthy and all of the family learn how to eat healthy and be active together. The key here is together. If you make activities that you all can play and join in together you teach a healthy lifestyle and you will lose your weight in the same time without causing negative self-image.
- We can’t afford that – This says that you are not in control of your finances and scares the child. They said that instead you should say we can’t buy that because we are saving our money for more important things. Ok my daughter lashed out at this one, so disagree 100% here. My daughter cleverly said that if you say what the article wants than you are saying that the child’s needs are not important. True, true, that is what it is saying. We need to teach our children how to manage finances and when you cannot afford something this is a great opportunity for a lesson. Go ahead and say you cannot afford that but also add the lesson and knowledge building of difference between needs vs wants. When my daughter was 4 we started to talk about the difference between needs and wants. Needs are things that keep us alive like healthy foods, the house we live in, basic clothes, light and heat etc. Wants are things we want like junk food, toys, fancy clothes, fancy house, vehicles, junk food, etc. As time goes on you can say we cannot afford that because it is a want and not a needed item and right now money it tight so only needs are what get purchased and wants can be purchased when we save up the money for it. By the time my daughter was 6 she fully understood it and would as me do we have any money for wants today? And I would tell her I can afford up to $5 today or not today sorry maybe next time and she was perfectly okay with that because she too was learning how to manage money without touching money.
- Don’t talk to strangers – This says that it is too hard for children to understand this concept. I worked for Kid Safe Canada (has now changed) and taught safety classes to children. It really is not a hard concept if taught properly. Yes don’t talk to strangers but explain what a stranger is. What is a stranger? Anyone you do not know is a stranger, even if they tell you their name they are still a stranger. Teach them the good people to go to for help, they are police officers, firemen and firewoman, teacher, etc. The other thing is to never teach the words or idea stranger danger, this gives the impression of a monster and that is not right. So here it is -the slogan to help keep things simple for children is: Never go with anyone unless parent/guardian gave permission. Most abduction are by people they know or see on the street or a family member. So the child is familiar with them so just saying stranger is not enough. So the rule is this; Never to anywhere with ANYONE unless parent/guardian gave the child permission. The child must phone you to get permission. Have a pass word to know they have permission to go with them even if it is a family member. The child should know before going to school or activity who is picking them up. So again the rule is: NEVER GO ANYWHERE WITH ANYONE UNLESS PARENT/GUARDIAN GAVE PERMISION!
- Be careful – This they say is saying that it makes it more likely the child will fall or hurt themselves. Oh come on seriously! I disagree. There are those that if you are being supper hovering of a parent then just back off, really no one like that, no one! And hovering over your child definitely makes them think that everyone everyplace is going to protect them. What a horrible wake up call for your child when they see this is not the case, you just made more problems for them you super hovering parent! But if you see that the child is in potential danger then say be careful of that bar it is getting close to your head! Then go ahead, but again if you are a parent that is pointing out every possible booboo potential just back off, go sit down and let the child get the small booboos as it is a good thing. They learn to be more careful. You hit your thumb with a hammer, that sure smarts don’t it? So the next time you use a hammer you learned something right? Right! You learned to move your thumb! Same with your children. DO NOT HOVER OR SMOTHER YOUR CHILDREN, LET THEM GET THOSE LITTLE BOOBOO’S! You can point out the occasional potential accident or as they leave the house tell them be careful crossing the road! Acceptable absolutely.
- No dessert unless you finish your dinner – this one says it diminishes the enjoyment of the meal. You definitely did not listen to Pink Floyd did you? So what! Who does not look forward to the occasional dessert? And eating all that the child put on the plate teaches balance and the importance of the meal over the dessert. If parent plated the meal then it really is not fair as the parent does not know how much the child is hungry or not. Let the child learn to plate the meal and they will learn to plate only what they are going to need and eat.
- Let me help – jumping in too soon will cause child to give up too early. This goes back to the super hovering parent I spoke about in #8. If you are hovering then you will be asking to help them all the time and yes this is not good. But if you are seeing the child is struggling you can look at it and ask them would you like a little help? If they say yes then offer a little help, little being the key here. Such as the puzzle in the parent.com example. Say where is it you need help with? Let the child guide you to where they feel they are needing help, then tell them I wonder if that piece will fit can you try that one? If it fits say ok you are on your own again because you helped and now they can try other pieces for themselves. If they need more help let them know you are not going to do it for them but will give advice here and there. They need to try for themselves first. This is great as with my daughter she would try to get me to do things for her. All kids try it, it is human nature to get someone else to it for you. But teaching them the benefit of doing themselves is a far more beneficial.
Parenting is not easy, but I would never trade a second of it. I love being a parent and over the years my role as a parent changes and I embrace this change. The changes in my role proves I did my job right, she is ready to spread her wings and see the world in all its glory and misery and be able to tackle it wisely no matter what comes her way. We all want to protect our children or even shelter them but that is not helping prepare them for their future. Our job as parents is not to shelter them but to prepare them, and guide them to be the best them they can be. That is my views, my lessons learned and as always, take what you want and leave the rest.