4 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Toddler


How I wish parenting is as easy as pie. Reality check: It is a tough job and will always be. Yes, nothing beats the overflowing joy that our kids give us but once their odd behavior sets you into a frenzy, you easily get carried away by frustration and anger. Worse, we say things that leave them confused, hurt, or mad. We should be careful with our words and reactions hence avoiding these phrases when they misbehave benefit us and our little nuggets.

“You are naughty/bad.”
This is a popular phrase used by parents when their children don’t behave properly. Instead of confronting the child, deal with the problem/situation. The moment you respond with this phrase when your toddler throws tantrums, he/she will feel that there is something wrong with him/her and that part of him/her is messed up. As a result, they will feel judged and their self-esteem will go down. Instead of saying this phrase, you can say “I am not happy with what you did.”

“You act just like your mother!”
When your child makes a mistake and your first reaction is to tell them that they remind you of the other parent or another person you dislike, stop. It won’t help. Emphasizing similarities on a bad behavior and making positive comparisons can damage your child’s morale. Every child is unique and should he/her misbehaves, that doesn’t mean that he/she is the same person whose behavior you disapprove. You can try responding with a phrase “Your behavior is not okay” or encourage his recent accomplishment by saying “Wow, you tied your shoelace all by yourself!”

“Great Job! You’re such a good girl/boy!”
This phrase is a positive reinforcement but there’s something wrong with such praise. It is not specific and ambiguous. It is inevitable that we get excited and proud with small and big achievements of our children but isn’t it better to celebrate their good behavior and not them? This is because the repetition of this vague phrase will become meaningless over time. Be specific and realistic with your kids and reserve your confidence-boosting praise comments with feats that required genuine effort. You can say “This painting is amazing! The colors that you chose were bright and happy.”

“You’re making me mad right now!”
On bad days, strong willed parents erupt like a hot volcano and tend to pass the blame to their kids for their unwanted feelings. Whenever a child misbehaves just at the same time that you’re frustrated with a missed business meeting with your client, it’s easy to say this phrase. Don’t. You’re just making things worse. To help you and your child feel better, take personal responsibility for your emotions. You can say something like “ I don’t appreciate your choice.”

toddler sitting on stairs landing