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8/22/11blog post

what kids should never say to parents

Having just read yet another list of things that parents should never say to kids, don’t you think it’s reasonable that we tell our kids what we never want to hear from them?

  1. It’s not fair.” Kids typically say this when we treat siblings differently from each other. Parents shouldn’t strive to treat their kids equally but rather adjust their approach to what each individual child needs, not what they want. This means that there may be different rules for kids within the same family. Kids also say this when they don’t like one of our rules. It’s usually helpful to explain the rationale behind your expectations. However, sometimes kids, like the rest of us, have to do things just because someone in authority wants it done that way.
  2. “I hate you.” This is one of the cruelest things that a child of any age can say to a parent. We know that kids don’t really mean that they hate us, but it still hurts to hear such harsh language. Help your child use the appropriate words to express their feelings of anger or disappointment.
  3. “Shut up, stupid, etc.” Name calling is offensive at any age. Just as parents are appropriately cautioned to never say foul words to their kids, children should do likewise. Here’s the advice I give youngsters, particularly teens. If you wouldn’t use that word to your teacher at school or your boss at work, don’t speak that way to your parents. They deserve at least that same level of respect and courtesy.
  4. “Whatever…” Kids typically say this when they dislike something but don’t have the verbal sophistication or assertiveness to express their own point of view. I find this phrase rather irritating, and tell kids to either say what is on their mind or say nothing.
  5. Rolling of the eyes. I realize this isn’t a verbalization, but this makes every parents’ list of annoying things done by their kids. This is often combined with “whatever” to really provoke a reaction! This is a rude way to express feelings of anger, annoyances or frustration. There are times we must be in control of our feelings or adjust the way we express them and this rule applies to kids as well.
  6. Do I have to?” Little is asked of our kids, most of whom are growing up as the most privileged and entitled generation in the history of this country. When a request is made, we expect compliance rather than complaints. If you hear this expression a lot, it may be because you are overindulging your children. This response should prompt more chores and family responsibilities, not less.
  7. “It’s too hard.” Parents hear this when kids are asked to perform at a higher level, usually academically. Persistence in the face of failure and frustration teaches the critical lesson of emotional resilience.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know your thoughts.

Next week: Questions from readers