10 things you never say to your teenage kid
Parenting is not an easy task, especially when you are dealing with a teenage kid. Teenagers usually come across many psychological changes that affect their temper and perceptions of things around them. Some parents do not pay attention to how their tone or way of talking can affect their teenage kids' personality, behavior, and self-respect.
So, the following are some things you should never say to your teenage kid:
- "You did well, but you can do better."
This implies that whatever work they have done is not good enough to your standards, which affects their confidence and self-esteem. Instead, you can say: "You did well, and I am so proud of you. What are the things you could have done better, and how can you work on them next time? I bet you are going to get even better and better."
- "It's not an issue. Why are you making a big deal out of it?"
This is one of the worst things you can say to your teenage kids when they are upset. It invalidates their feelings and belittles them, and makes them reluctant to talk openly to you. Instead, you can say: "I totally understand what you are going through. It must be really hard. How can I help?"
- "Don’t eat that, or else you’re going to get fat.”
This could teach your children to be overly conscious of their bodies. Body image is an extremely sensitive issue, and to create this impression from such a young age, will have long-lasting damaging effects. Instead, you can say: “I don’t think it is a good idea to eat that, because it is not very good for your health.”
- “When I was your age, I did so and so.”
This makes them feel incompetent, not good enough and judged. Remember that this is never a fair comparison because, except for the “age” factor in that story, nothing else is the same: not the environment nor the background or personality, not even the parents. Instead, try to focus on your kid’s capabilities, personality, and interests with no prejudgment or expectations.
- “I am disappointed in you.”
This also makes them feel not good enough. Many people grow up believing they are a disappointment to their families because they simply heard it one too many times throughout their lives. Instead, you can say: “I am not happy with your ACTIONS, please try to avoid doing this in the future” (focusing on the behavior and not the identity)
- “I told you 100 times already, and you never listen.”
This is a classic, but you should know that if it didn’t get through the first time, it sure won’t the 100th. Commands create resistance, especially in teenagers. So, consider changing the tone or your commanding style to involve them more in the task. Instead, you can say: “What do you think of doing [..] would that work? Or do you prefer doing it later?”
- “Because I said so.”
This “my way or the highway” approach may have been the most common way to discipline a child long time ago, but that doesn’t make it right! It makes teenagers feel that their opinion does not really matter, simply because they are young. Instead, try to explain why you feel a certain way about something and involve them more in the decision.
- “I told you so.”
No matter how tempting it is to say that when you are proven right, as a parent, you should refrain from using this phrase with your teenage kids. But comforting them instead of throwing it in their faces will make them more open to talking to you again in the future when faced with challenging situations. So instead, you can show compassion and say: “I’m sorry it happened this way, and maybe next time you can try [..]”
- “You’re too young to talk about this.”
Shutting down your teenage kid when he/she is trying to talk to you about a sensitive issue will send them further away from you and make them less likely to come talking to you again in the future. And they will possibly seek information from unreliable sources. So instead, keep an open mind and say: “I’m so glad you came to me and [..].” Just answer their questions in an age-appropriate way.
- “I wish you were like [..]”
Nothing lowers your teenage kid’s self-esteem and makes them doubt themselves, like comparing them to someone else. Even if it is to another sibling, it makes them feel like they are not good enough. Instead, you can say: “I am proud of you, you are incredible, and I love you just the way you are because the way you are is enough.”