If you have a child, are responsible for a child, or have children around you in any way and at any time, you must erase these words from your vocabulary and refrain from saying them to a child. This is because a child’s mind and perception of the world is very fragile in their formative years, so you have to be careful not to impact them negatively with your words.
“Practice Makes Perfect”
This popular phrase is what most children have grown up hearing and most parents erroneously believe that this phrase encourages a child to work harder and attain great things. However, most of the time, this is not so. This adage sends a message that if a child doesn’t win or excel, it means the child didn’t work hard enough. This weakens the child’s confidence as he/she grows up believing every failure is caused by his/her incompetence or inability to put in enough effort. It’s better to say instead that ‘practice makes better’ rather than ‘practice makes perfect’.
This is another popular phrase with Nigerian parents. It might seem like the best thing to reassure a child that he/she is okay when he/she has been hurt physically or emotionally, but it isn’t right to force this reality on a child who just isn’t okay. For a child to be sad about something or to come crying to you, it means the child is not okay. You should learn to help the child acknowledge his/her emotions to help him/her understand and deal with them, rather than dismiss them. It’s not like you should never say this to a child, but there are some scenarios you shouldn’t say this.
“I’m on a Diet”
If you struggle with your weight, shape or size, try to keep this struggle as far away from a child as possible. If a child sees you stepping on a scale every day and hears you complaining all the time about being fat and ugly, he/she (especially girls) can develop body image issues. Rather than telling a child you’re on diet, it’s better to say ‘I’m eating healthy and I exercise because it’s great for the body and my heart’. This can inspire the child to join you and live a healthy life.
“We Can’t Afford That”
Most people will think that being bold enough to tell a child this, is teaching the child to be responsible, but this is more counter-productive than productive. Keep money issues as far away as you can from children; they are too young to bear that burden. Choose alternative light-hearted ways to tell your child you can’t afford something. You can try saying you’re saving for something special for the family or that you’ll get it for them later. If the child insists, then it’s a perfect opportunity to teach the child in simple terms about budgeting, saving and managing money.
“Let Me Help”
Again, it’s not like you should never say this to a child, but you should refrain from doing so often. It’s better to let the child ask or give some kind of signal asking for help or even come to you for help, than you jumping in to offer unsolicited help to a child. This can undermine the child’s independence and cause him/her to start looking to others all the time for answers and assistance. When your child asks for help, try asking guiding questions or guiding the child first, to see if the child gets it on his/her own. If he/she doesn’t, then you can help.