If you’re a parent, then you know how easy it is to say things you should never say to your child. It’s normal, and we all do it. But there are also some things parents say that are more common but unnoticeably harmful.

things you should never say to your child

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The tricky part is, kids hate it but don’t know how to voice it.

They will usually act out behaviorally, and then the time to realize it’s lost in our response to our child’s disobedience.

That’s why it’s important to understand what those things are and how they negatively impact our child’s response. Here are five phrases your kids dislike when you say them.

5 Phrases Parents Should Never Say to their Child

what parents should never say to their kids

1. “At least you’re not…”

I have caught myself on many occasions saying this to my son. It’s usually said when my son voices something that was difficult in his experience.

The problem with responding with an “At least you’re not…” is that it diminishes a child’s feelings and makes them feel guilty for voicing their hardship. It’s a natural response, and I can see why parents would say it. In our minds, we want our children to realize that perhaps something isn’t as hard as it seems, or that they should be grateful for what they have.

But it’s much better to teach those values on a positive note, instead of diminishing whatever they are experiencing.

Instead, you could say, “I’m sure that’s hard for you. Is there anything I can do to help?” Enough said. If the time and response are right, you can also ask if they want your advice about it.

But showing empathy doesn’t mean fixing, diminishing, or even feeling sorry for your kids. It means having an understanding of their current struggle and being there with them for whatever they need.

never say these things to your kids

2. “It’s not THAT big of a deal”

This phrase is, once again, a common thing that parents say. But it does the same exact thing as the above phrase. It diminishes whatever they are going through.

3. “Good girl” or “good boy”

Okay, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, so you won’t ever catch me saying this to my child. My child is not a dog, and this kind of affirmation is performance based.

Instead of recognizing the action they are doing that is good, you’re telling them that THEY are good, only because they are doing that specific thing.

By wording it slightly differently, it can mean something so much more valuable for them. You can say, “You’re doing such a good job! I’m so proud of you. Way to go!”

parents should never say this to their kids

4. “I’m so sick of this” or “You are really getting on my nerves”

When a child disobeys, it’s easy to start expressing the fact that they’re putting you out. But one important thing I’ve learned from this book is that making your child’s disobedience about putting you out is NOT okay.

Even popular parenting methods welcome manipulation in parenting, and most often, it’s pretty subtle. But here’s why you should always steer clear of making your child’s behavior about pleasing you or not.

If you are continually placing the burden on your child to obey because YOU want them to, then they will only learn that obedience should be done to make you happy as the parent.

But if you make obedience about doing it because it’s the right thing to do, then it helps them understand that obedience is something they should do not only for themselves but because it’s what God asks of them.

You can simply do this by changing your wording and approach, and not making it about putting you out.

don't say these popular things to your kids

5. “I’ve told you this…times before.”

I am guilty of saying this quite often. And I can tell you this much. No matter what number you fill in the blank with, it won’t make it any more impactful. It’s just empty words.

It neither benefits your point or your child’s understanding that they shouldn’t have done what they did.

My son HATES it when I say this because it’s written ALL over his face after I’ve said it.

Then I realize how stupid it was because it makes him feel like a failure, and it’s not my desire for my discipline to make my kid feel like a failure.

We are all guilty of using these common phrases in the heat of the moment when our kids frustrate us. But being aware of what those phrases are can make all the difference in our parenting. Check out these other posts on parenting for more insight on reaching your child in a more productive and meaningful way.


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Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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