5 Things Parents Should Stop Saying

Words can make a big impact on mental health. Here’s five phrases that parents shouldn’t say to their kids.

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Karsen: From the Parents Club, I'm Karsen Kolnicki. Welcome back to another quick tip episode, where we share real stories of our members becoming even better parents, so that their families can live better lives.

I'm joined today by Vincent Phamvan, who's the Founder of the Parents Club. Hey Vincent.

Vincent: Hey Karsen

Karsen: As you know, May is mental health awareness month. I was talking with one of our members in the Dad’s Club community about whether he should be worried about things that could impact his child’s mental health down the line. So this is what we will be talking about today. 

Vincent: Yes, this is definitely a relevant topic to talk about. And parents actually play a big role in instilling good mental practices in their children from a young age. 

Think back to when you were younger, was there anything your parents said or did that stuck in your mind ever since that may have affected your mental health? 

Karsen: Hmm that's a good question. The first thing that comes to mind is when I was in elementary school and middle school, my mom used to always help me with school projects especially since she was a teacher herself. I remember a time in 1st grade when I was assigned to make a family tree on a poster and present it to my class. So, I drew everyone in my family on a poster, connected them to each other, labeled them, and their relationship to me. On the morning it was due I came downstairs to find that my mom had worked her magic on it and it looked beautiful. The tree I drew was shaded in with various colors of green, nothing was outside of the lines like I had left it, every person’s name was gone over in black marker and written very neatly to stand out. I went to school and my poster was one of the best in the class and I received a perfect grade. I became so dependant on my mom to help me with all of my projects from then on because it got me great grades and that got me praise from my teachers and parents. 

Vincent: Do you think that changed the way you felt about your own abilities?

Karsen: Definitely, I never saw my work as perfect enough because I knew my mom could make it better. This put doubt in my head and possibly led to me putting extra pressure and stress on myself without myself or my mom realizing the impact of her wanting to help me.

Vincent: That’s a very relatable point, it sounds like one of the points Amy Morin made in her book “How to Raise Mentally Strong Children,” that parents should focus on praising their child's efforts rather than their results. 

Karsen: Vincent, what’s another thing you think parents shouldn’t say or do because of the impact it has on their mental health?

Vincent: I think being told to “stop crying” or “it’s no big deal” has significant effects on how children understand and process their emotions. 

Karsen: That’s true because to them its a big deal and they are having a hard time dealing with these emotions.

Vincent: Yes, when your child is feeling anxious or upset, it’s an opportunity for you as a parent to help them cope in a healthy way.

Karsen: You know this also applies to when you say “calm down” to your child because the reason they are worked up could be because they don’t have the tools to calm themselves down on their own. 

Vincent: Exactly. And in addition, saying “everything is going to be fine” falls in this area because it leads to unrealistic expectations about reality and again comes across as dismissive instead of teaching ways to get through hardship and challenges.

Karsen: So in summary 5 things we shouldn’t say to our kids are; praise based on results not effort, “it’s no big deal,” “stop crying,” “calm down,” and “everything will be fine.” The words you use matter and if you’re not careful, you could instill unhealthy conceptions in your kids minds if you don’t teach them the social and emotional skills they need to succeed.

Karsen: That's it for this Quick Tip episode. I'm Karsen Kolnicki. See you next time.

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