Words matter, especially to children. Words can leave a lasting impact on how they see the world and themselves, for better or worse. Most parents avoid threatening or abusive language, but common language that seems helpful can have the opposite effect. Here are some innocent phrases to avoid and psychologists recommend instead.
5 phrases you should never say to your children
- Use your own words
This phrase is often used to encourage children to talk about what’s bothering them instead of crying or acting out. However, in most cases, children do not know what words to use and it is difficult for them to think of something when they are upset, so they tend to cry and scream.
Instead, Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids, recommends helping children by suggesting specific words to look for. “You can say to your brother, ‘Move over.’ You can say to your sister, ‘I want a turn.’ Put that word in her mouth,” he said. 
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- No thanks
Recently, instead of saying “stop” and “don’t”, parents have started saying “no thank you”. At first glance, this makes sense. After all, they are trying to model kindness for their children. However, Markham says, “No thanks” means “I don’t want it, but thanks for the offer.” But when it’s used to soften a no, it sends a mixed message to kids who don’t understand why their behavior is unacceptable.
Sometimes, especially to stop dangerous or inappropriate behavior, it’s better to say “no” followed by a firm but polite explanation. If you use “no thanks” instead of “no”, please correct yourself. It also models the ability to backtrack and correct mistakes, which is an important lesson in itself.
- Good work
Positive evidence is a good thing, but it must be expressed effectively. “Good job” is an example of a compliment that backfires. Such praise can lead children to seek external reassurance instead of their natural curiosity and inner drive. In addition, phrases such as “good job” and “proud of you” may sound reflexive or casually pleasant, so children are not effectively affirmed or valued. Also, this type of praise is achievement-based, meaning that it depends on when the child achieves and behaves correctly. This can lead to low self-esteem.
Instead, the child’s sense of achievement is “you did it!” and so on. You can also describe the task and praise how the child coped with it. “I see you solved that puzzle all by yourself. “You were so patient.” This teaches the child about the benefits of his achievements, which will encourage him to repeat or do something similar. “I’m proud of you” sounds similar to “You must be really proud of yourself,” but they send different messages. 
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- You are very smart/You are the best
Such language puts pressure on children. American psychologist Carol Dweck said that children who hear this believe that they should get everything right on the first try. Instead of working to improve their skills, they feel that their abilities are fixed. For example, a parent may tell a child that he is very smart at solving math problems, but when he sees an equation he can’t solve, he will think he is not so smart. In general, telling a child that they are the best at something puts pressure on them and makes them feel that their parents’ love depends on their performance.
Or choose a phrase that praises effort and notes how much the child enjoys a particular activity. “What parents need to know is that the best motivation is to enjoy what your child is doing,” Markham said.
- We can’t afford it
Financial stress can take a toll on a household, but children shouldn’t feel the pressure. Plus, they shouldn’t feel like money is a powerful entity that rules their lives. This can cause them to worry too much as they get older and develop an unhealthy relationship with money. Instead, teach kids how to budget and take control of their finances at their own level, according to Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do.
For example, if the kids want to go to Disney World, don’t say, “we can’t afford that.” Say, “This year’s tickets don’t fit our budget.” You can also discuss how to manage your budget and prioritize your money, if they want to