10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Kids
Written by Oana Schneider

Some of us grow up thinking they will make a great mom or dad someday. The truth is that, no matter how much we think this through, we’re not able to figure the whole parenting thing before becoming parents.

There is always so much anger and resentment in some people who think they would make better parents than their parents and some other people who had great parents and are so afraid they might not live up to that. No matter what your case is, there are a few things experts say you should never say to your kids no matter how upset, angry or disappointed you are. After all, if you look back, you didn’t like hearing these thing either when you were little.

1. “You can do better.”

You probably expect a lot from your children because you know how important it is to be mature, responsible, go to school and study and then get a good job. There are so many ways to encourage them that nobody should ever use the above-mentioned sentence! If you know how much your kids studied for their grades, don’t tell them that they can do better even if it’s true.

You’ll only make them feel that their efforts are never enough for you and that pleasing your is a lost battle. If you choose this strategy, you’ll only make your kids keep things to themselves and feel like they are never good enough, which leads to child depression and other problems. Be supportive, share stories about your childhood and let them see you weren’t perfect either. Nobody like to join a race that has no finishing line.

2. “Why can’t you be like other kids?”

Yes, your child must not be very well-behaved, but under no circumstances should you compare him/ her to other kids. Would you like it if your spouse asked you “Why can’t you be like other spouses?” No. So show your kids the same respect you are expecting from them. They don’t tell you to be a better mom or dad, do they? Scientists believe that this kind of commentaries make your kids be outspoken, rebel and prone to substance abuse.

The reason behind all this is that nobody likes to have their dearest people be more appreciative of others. Try to abstain from such commentaries and learn to love your kids for whom they are. They may not have the best grades ever, but there are surely other great things about them: maybe they are very artistic, maybe they enjoy making people laugh etc. 

3. “I’m afraid we might lose the house.”

Even if that’s true, try not to tell that to your kids. They are little and that house is probably the only one they’ve ever known, it’s their nest and safe refuge. They don’t understand how the world works, have no idea that you can start all over in a new home. Instead of telling them that they are being thrown out their home, tell them that you’ve found a new place, a better one, that’s closer to their grandparents (if you are planning on moving back to your parents).

Try to point out the good things about moving to another place and don’t just tell them that you are losing the house. You may also want to avoid phrases like “lose our money”, “lose our time”, “lose my minds”, and “lose our family”. Basically, try not to lose anything!

4. “If you’re not a good child, I’ll call the cops!”

Don’t teach your kids to fear the authority, teach them to recognize it and trust the police. They haven’t done anything wrong and just breaking your precious vase is never going to get anyone convicted, so don’t say things like that to them. Plus, if something bad happens to them, they’ll be too afraid to talk to the police and that’s terrible because, instead of running to the police, they’d be running from it.

Also, by saying that you’ll turned them in to the police, you make them feel like you and your kids are on different sides, as if there were a competition or something. They are not competing with you and they need to know that you will never harm them.

5. “Don’t play with other kids, you’ll get dirty!”

So what? As long as you have a washer and drier, there’s no reason not to make new friends and explore the surroundings. Plus, it’s just dirt, just clothes, they come and go, but friendships last forever, so let your little ones play with other kids, make mud pies and so on. You may supervise, but don’t interfere unless you absolutely have to.

Your kids need to learn how to be independent and contour their own personality among other kids. Plus, you’ll get a good chance to how he/ she interacts with them, if you’re raising a leader or a follower, an introvert or the soul of the party. Nevertheless, you should trust your kids: believe it or not, by the time they start playing with other children they already have a sense of what is wrong and what is right, so relax and observe from the distance.

6. “Let ME do it!”

You’ve asked your son or daughter to do something, but they are not doing a very good job. What to do? Nothing, just watch and learn and only take the matter into your hands if your assistance is required. If you do everything for your kids and make them think that they always get it wrong, they’ll feel frustrated and grow up to be lazy people (proven fact!).

You can ask your kids to help you do the dishes without fearing that they might drop something. After all, it’s just dishes and even you drop them every once in a while and you’re an adult. Don’t punish them for accidents that they had no control over and always be supportive no matter what.

7. “I’m on a diet.”

No, you’re not. As far as your kids are concerned, you’re not! You can try every single diet there is but never tell your kids about this. We tend to imitate what we see around us until we became teenagers. Till then, however, we borrow thoughts, beliefs and habits from our loved ones, which means that, if you tell your kids you’re not happy about the way you look, they’ll start feeling the same way about themselves.

Plus, kids view beauty in a very different way: to them, their mother and father are the most beautiful people in the world. Don’t shake that beliefs with your insecurities and learn how to keep things to yourself. There is one thing you can tell them: if we jog, run, play sports we’ll be a lot healthier (not thinner.) teach them the difference between being healthy and being slim, because there is one.

8. “Never talk to strangers!”

If your plan was to raise shy and insecure kids, this is just the kind of things to tell them. Although now it may seem like a great idea because it keeps them out of troubles and some dubious characters, your little ones will be affected on the long term. As adults, they’ll only feel safe around their house and family, never make new friends or travel the world, not to mention move to another state for a job opportunity. Scientists believe that this kind of phrases are the reason why so many people over 30 are still living with their parents.  Remember: you are raising your kids to be independent, not dependable on you!

9. “Is this how I raised you?”

OK, so your kids are not a lifeless work of art that you’ve been molding since the beginning of time! Their behavior matters more than whether they stay on course or not. Plus, you raise them to be independent, like we said, which means they can pretty much make any kind of choice. You can’t tell someone what choice to make and then ask them to be free and independent: that’s just confusing! And if grownups get confused by that logic, kids are totally baffled.

Plus, people have to stop thinking that their kids “owe” them something: life is not a bank, therefore everything we get back from our children should be looked at as a bonus. You can express your disappointment in a different way: “I didn’t like what you did back there. And here’s why…” Yes, try offering explanations for your discontent and they’ll do the same in the future. Or you could simply ask a question: “I’m not mad at you, I just want to understand: why did you do that?”  The answer will be much more valuable to you than 5 minutes of crying.

10. “I’m so disappointed in you.”

And maybe you really are, but that’s not how you should express it. Ask questions, offer other solutions and share personal stories. If your little one stole something, explain to them why stealing is wrong: “You took that from someone else who worked for it, raised money for it and then bought it to enjoy it. You took it effortlessly and caused pain to someone.

This is why stealing is wrong: we don’t want to hurt other people. What do you think?” By teaching them how to explain their actions, you help raising mature and intelligent children, so try eliminating a few words from your vocabulary: debt, disappointment, and diet, (to) lose. Let your kids know that you’ll always watch over them, but give them enough room to grow independently as well.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • I completely agree! I think it is more important to say to never trust a stranger than never talk to a stranger. You never know who a child may get in the car with. It is more important to talk to them about the safety of strangers instead of being disrespectful and not talking to them. These are great tips and some of them are important to remember that there’s a difference between adult struggles and kid struggles and in most cases, you shouldn’t be dragging your kids into the adult problems.

  • I can agree with most of these except for the first one. As long as you’re not constantly telling your child they can do better, then they’re not going to be damaged growing up hearing that they can do a little better sometimes. On the other hand, failure to say they can do better can cause them to always underachieve, so that’s something to think about.

  • Firstly the kid in the picture is very cute! This article is fabulous and is wonderfully compiled. I can easily relate some of the points to my childhood. I was very shy, modest and unassuming in my childhood. My cousin on the other hand was overactive and overzealous. I was constantly compared with him and asked to learn from him. Even, when I scored more than 80%, I was chided for not standing first in the class. The pressure was too much for me.

    However, I never knew how to vent out my emotions. My parents were well-intentional, but they never knew how to bring up their wards. Unfortunately, I lived with all that. I’m happy now, but I always wish, my childhood was a lot happier. I think, the best thing to avoid such situations, is for parents to spend quality time with their children.

  • Oh, I am a mother of two. My eldest is a boy who loves my parents house so much, but my job requires me to relocate me and my kids, so we moved out. That was the first time they looked really sad. Now, I got this guilty feeling about telling them that we are losing our place or we need to move out to other place because we can not pay the rent anymore. Now I understand, whatever it is that is not so good for the children to deal with is much better left unsaid or think of other ways to say it to them like what you’ve suggested in here. Children should be happy all the time and I agree with this article. I hope parents do really care for their kids and understand well how to deal with them properly. Kids, they really are fragile and innocent.

  • I make it a point NEVER to compare my kids to other kids, period. It just stifles their individualism and promotes a need for conformity. They’ll think that there is a ‘model’ child, a mold that they have to emulate to be accepted. Schools already do that to the point of stifling them creatively, I won’t participate in it, and in fact I work hard trying to reverse it and reassure my kids that there’s nothing wrong with being different.

  • Alright… I’ll admit that I’ve said some of these things to my kids, but there are many phrases in this article that I respectfully disagree with. I don’t think that I shouldn’t compare my kids with their sibling (I have 2 kids). I know other kids may become depressed, but I know my kids are always striving to be better, and they’ll always try to outcompete with their brother or sister. If they don’t one time, they’ll try again next time, and they won’t get depressed. The only kids who get depressed are those who accept their failures and give up easily. And yes, I do tell my kids that they can do better, but in a positive light. If they tried their best and still got bad grades, then they’re studying wrong, because they definitely had classmates who got better grades than them. I know my kids are not stupid. They need to know that they can always do better than what they did already. I’m sure this promotes their willingness to strive for greater achievements, instead of making them complacent with what they already have. This is how my parents raised me, and I don’t have any sort of depression or problems that make me feel like I’m not good enough. Instead, I’ve tried constantly to do my best, and I find ways to change any failures that occur because I know there’s always a solution.

    I do agree with some of the phrases in this article, like the one about being on a diet. Kids don’t have to know about your personal eating habits because they’ll emulate what you do, and I don’t want an unhealthy child. I don’t tell my kids not to talk to strangers, but I do tell them never to go anywhere with a stranger alone. Talking to strangers is fine as long as there is another trusted adult present.

  • Ten mistakes, and I hope it stops there, let alone even one such comment that parents echo the words to their children carelessly. Through the years, I grapple with putting a ‘guard in the door of my mouth’. But, deliberate-going, always, to the winning side of building-the-spirit-and-character of my children have always been worth the effort. Much thought and care takes practice and a full heart to convince myself of the love I have for each child.

    On the other hand, “I’m on a diet” seems to settle well with them. Children want their Mommie to look and BE healthy and strong for them– to care, protect, be happy and be ever-ready to defend them whenever they need me. I guess, they’ll know when I mean business. 🙂

  • I have heard parents say all of these things and it is just plain sad. It has always frustrated me that most are unable to see that by investing time, love, education, etc. in a child, you are investing in your future.
    Children understand a lot more that we give them credit for. It is ignorant to assume that a small child doesn’t understand at least some of what you say. They are definitely picking up on your energy as you say such things. Also, it is naive to think that because a child is not yet talking that, they do not understand the words you are speaking. Language production and language comprehension are located in different parts of the brain.
    It really is difficult to stay positive in a time when children are seen as pebbles in shoes as opposed to the mountains of mold-able clay that they are.

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