Positive Reinforcement: 9 Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Child
Learn what phrases to banish from your vocabulary and how to talk so your kids will really listen
Labels are shortcuts that shortchange kids: "Why are you so mean to Katie?" Or "How could you be such a klutz?" Sometimes kids overhear us talking to others: "She's my shy one." Young children believe what they hear without question, even when it's about themselves. So negative labels can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thomas gets the message that meanness is his nature. "Klutzy" Sarah begins to think of herself that way, undermining her confidence. Even labels that seem neutral or positive -- "shy" or "smart" -- pigeonhole a child and place unnecessary or inappropriate expectations on her.
The worst ones cut dangerously deep. Many a parent can still vividly, and bitterly, remember when her own parent said something like "You're so hopeless" (or "lazy" or "stupid").
A far better approach is to address the specific behavior and leave the adjectives about your child's personality out of it. For example, "Katie's feelings were hurt when you told everyone not to play with her. How can we make her feel better?"
Next: Why you shouldn't say "Don't cry."