The 7 Worst Things You Can Say To Your Child


Parenting can be so damn stressful. Kids push boundaries and buttons, and it’s a parent’s job to stay calm and steady in the face of it all. But most of us don’t perform this job with absolute perfection. We sometimes and say things to our kids we wish we could stuff back inside our mouths. I’m sure most of us have some cringeworthy moments to mull over and make up for.

But some verbal mistakes are worse than others. Parenting expert Chick Moorman, the author of  Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility,  thinks there are seven really big baddies. How many of them have you heard slip out of your mouth?

  • 1 of 7
    This plays into kids' worst fear: abandonment.
  • 2 of 7
    Each child should be considered individually, not comparatively.
  • 3 of 7
    No child is responsible for the failure of his parents' marriage.
  • 4 of 7
    The message here is "I count,you don't." This breeds power struggles.
  • 5 of 7
    It might seem helpful, but it might also contribute to "learned helplessness".
  • 6 of 7
    Shame leads to low self esteem, especially when the child has no idea why he was wrong.
  • 7 of 7
    If you need an explanation for why you should never say this, imagine what it would feel like to hear it.


If I said any of these things, I’d regret it, but I can’t say they all seem equally awful. Enabling incompetence isn’t great, but is it as bad as telling a kid you regret his existence? Do you agree with this list? Anything you’d like to add…or subtract?

Read Chick Moorman’s article on Pregnancy.org for more about why he thinks these are the 7 worst things a parent can say to a child.

photo: me and the sysop/Thinkstock


Article Posted 7 years Ago

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