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8 Things You Should Never Say When Disciplining Your Child

30 May 2023
8 Things You Should Never Say When Disciplining Your Child

Disciplining a child is one of the toughest things a parent can do. It's not easy to see your child misbehave, and it's even harder to decide on the appropriate punishment. But discipline is crucial to a child's development, and parents must learn how to discipline their children effectively.

One of the most important aspects of disciplining a child is the language you use. The words you choose can have a significant impact on your child's behavior and self-esteem. When trying to decide how to discipline your child, there are just some things you should never say. Let’s take a closer look at what those are and why they're harmful.

1. "I'm ashamed of you."

Shaming a child is never an effective way to discipline them. When you say, "I'm ashamed of you," you're attacking your child's self-esteem and making them feel like they're not good enough. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, which can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

Instead of using shaming language, try to focus on the behavior you want to change. For example, "I'm disappointed in your actions" is a better way to communicate your disapproval without attacking your child's self-worth.

2. "You're always doing this."

When you say, "You're always doing this," you're using language that generalizes your child's behavior. This can make your child feel like their behavior is inevitable and unchangeable. It can also make them feel like you're not seeing the times they're behaving well.

Instead of using language that generalizes your child's behavior, focus on the specific instance that you're trying to address. For example, "When you hit your sister, it's not okay," is a specific and effective way to communicate the behavior you want to change.


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3. "I'm done with you."

Threatening to give up on your child is a harmful way to discipline them. It can make them feel like they're not worth the effort and can lead to a sense of hopelessness. This can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and their relationship with you.

Instead of using threats, try to use positive reinforcement. When your child behaves well, praise them and let them know that you're proud of them. This can motivate them to continue to behave well and strengthen your relationship.

4. "You're just like your (insert negative family member’s name here)."

Comparing your child to a negative family member is a harmful way to discipline them. It can make them feel like they're not living up to your expectations and can lead to a sense of resentment towards the family member you're comparing them to.

Instead of comparing your child to a family member, focus on the behavior you want to change. For example, "I need you to stop yelling at your sister," is a specific and effective way to communicate the behavior you want to change.

5. "I'm the parent, and you're the child. You have to do what I say."

Using your authority as a parent to control your child can lead to a power struggle and can damage your relationship with them. It can make them feel like their thoughts and opinions don't matter, and they're not allowed to express themselves.

Instead of using your authority, try to explain why you're asking your child to do something. For example, "I need you to clean up your toys so that we can have a clean and safe home," is a way to explain why you're asking your child to do something without using your authority to control them.


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6. "You're making me angry."

Blaming your child for your emotions can also make them feel like they're not allowed to express themselves or their emotions. It can create a hostile environment where your child feels like they need to walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting you. Instead, try to model healthy emotional expression by explaining how their behavior makes you feel and working together to find a solution. Effective discipline requires patience, empathy, and understanding. By avoiding harmful language and focusing on positive reinforcement, you can help your child develop the skills they need to make good choices and become a happy, well-adjusted adult.

7. "Why can't you be more like (insert name of another child or sibling)?"

Comparing your child to others, especially siblings or friends, is harmful and can create resentment and jealousy. It can also make your child feel like they're not good enough or not meeting your expectations. Instead of comparing them to others, focus on their individual strengths and areas for improvement, and work together to set achievable goals.

8. "You're a bad kid/person."

Labeling your child as "bad" or "naughty" can create a negative self-image and can make them feel like they're inherently flawed. It can also encourage a self-fulfilling prophecy, where they believe they can never do anything right. Instead, focus on their behavior and the impact it has on others, and work together to find solutions to address any negative behavior.

The Takeaway

Disciplining a child is not an easy task, and the language you use when disciplining them can have a significant impact on their behavior and self-esteem. It's crucial to avoid using language that attacks your child's self-worth, generalizes their behavior, or makes them feel hopeless. Instead, focus on the specific behavior you want to change and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. Remember, effective discipline is about teaching your child how to behave well and strengthening your relationship with them, not about controlling them through fear or intimidation. By using language that respects your child's autonomy and promotes positive behavior, you can raise a confident, self-assured child who knows how to make good choices.



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