LivingThe 11 things we usually say to children and...

The 11 things we usually say to children and that we would never say to an adult

The way in which we raise our children influences the development of their personality, their self-esteem and the acquisition of skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Fortunately, more and more families are aware of the importance of parenting with respect, banishing punishment and authoritarianism, which, far from educating, disconnects us from our children.

However, when it comes to educating, we still fall into certain toxic attitudes and behaviors that we are not always able to identify because they are too normalized. Transferring these situations to the adult world would help us identify what common mistakes we make in raising children and what behaviors we should avoid.

Here are some examples:

“Don’t cry… you look like a baby; it’s no big deal; you get very ugly…”

Perhaps in an attempt to comfort the crying child, many adults make the mistake of infantilizing or ridiculing their feelings, belittling their crying with hurtful phrases and negative consequences for their development.

We often downplay what the child is feeling or don’t give them adequate emotional support when they cry, even though we would never do that with another adult.

And if not, just think about how cold and unpleasant it would be to tell a friend who is telling us about a problem , to “don’t cry, because it’s no big deal”. In this case, what our friend would need would be a hug, for us to listen to him without judgment, support him and allow him to express himself freely.

If we see it so clearly with adults, why don’t we act in the same way with children?

“Get up off the ground, it’s nothing!”

Imagine that you are walking down the street with a friend when you suddenly stumble and fall to the ground. I bet you would quickly help him up and take an interest in his condition. It wouldn’t cross your mind to say things like “come on, get up, it’s nothing” , “you have to watch where you’re going, how clumsy you are !”, “don’t be a theater artist; come on, get up!

However, when a child hits or falls we do not always pay due attention (“it was nothing”, “it’s over”, “come on, you’re brave”…). Many times we even ignore him, because after seeing the fall we are sure that he has not been hurt and he simply cries to “get our attention”.

But it is necessary to understand that in this situation the crying of the child is not only a synonym of pain . It can also be due to frustration at having failed, the need to feel sheltered at a vulnerable moment, or simply wanting the comfort of your reference person.

“Sit here and think about what you’ve done!”

After a “bad behavior” of the child, many adults still resort to the so-called “time out” or “thinking chair” as behavioral modification mechanisms. Thus, by removing the child from the activity he was doing while forcing him to “think about what he has done” , we hope that he will reconsider his actions, become aware of them, ask for forgiveness and change his attitude.

Let’s transfer this situation to adult life.

Imagine that you are cooking and the food sticks to you or the end result is not what you expected (perhaps due to distraction, because you have not chosen the right ingredients, due to lack of practice, because you are having a bad day and are preoccupied with other issues… ): how would you feel if the guests criticized you, humiliated you and forced you to reconsider the dish you have prepared until you found the mistake you had made?

I bet the situation would be extremely unpleasant for you. You would feel horrible; sad, angry, frustrated and humiliated. Surely you would lose the desire to try cooking again, or if you did, you would be so resentful that you would not want to invite anyone.

But what if instead of this humiliating treatment, someone respectfully showed you what went wrong (for example, the roast was left in the oven longer than intended) and helped you find a solution (adding salt and spices might improve flavor)?

“Has the cat got your tongue?”

Imagine that you are invited to a party where you do not know most of the attendees, and therefore it is difficult for you to strike up a conversation. Suddenly, a person approaches you and in a sarcastic tone asks you in front of everyone present: “Why don’t you speak? Has the cat eaten your tongue?” It would be a really humiliating situation!

But instead, we say this phrase very often to children who are shy or insecure in an unknown situation, who are afraid of speaking in public or who simply prefer to remain silent.

Let’s give them time, space and respect the way of being of each child without embarrassing him with hurtful phrases like this or similar ones.

“You have to share”

How many people have we left the watch to these last few days? And the mobile? And the car? And our house? And our bag? If the answer is “no one” it seems clear that we are not sharing our things with others.

For children, toys are their most precious property , and if they are playing with them and do not want to lend them, we must respect it and not take it from them to give it to others. And it is that in this type of situation, adults tend to confuse the importance of teaching children to be supportive with the fact that other people take possession of their belongings without their consent.

Children need our help and teaching to learn what “sharing” means, but they must be the ones who decide when, how and what toys to leave to others.

“Behave well and pay attention”

Can you imagine telling your partner “behave well when we go to my mother’s house, if you want me to buy you that gift that you like so much” ? Or threatening your friend with the phrase “if you don’t do what I tell you, you’ll be left without the movie plan for this afternoon”.

The fact that another adult wants to impose their will on us through threats or blackmail is not only violent, unpleasant and disrespectful, but we would not tolerate it under any circumstances. However, we do it over and over again with children , perhaps due to the lack of other resources that help us educate with respect.

But it is necessary to understand that threatening and manipulating children (albeit subtly or through rewards) to make them do what we want has negative consequences for their development, in addition to not being an educational or respectful method.

“Greet with a kiss, don’t be rude”

Do you feel comfortable lavishing displays of affection on people you don’t know? Do you really like to greet a stranger with two kisses or a hug, or do you do it for a social reason?

Children do not understand social norms and for them, kissing someone unknown is not pleasant or logical, so it is normal for them to refuse to do it without this meaning that they are “rude”.

“You’re a bore, you’ve got me fed up!”

How unpleasant it would be if a family member or friend told you “how annoying you are” and “how nervous your attitude makes him”! Both are hurtful, derogatory phrases and denote an absolute lack of respect for the feelings and needs of the other.

If among adults we find these phrases out of place , why do we say them to children so often and with impunity, completely disconnecting ourselves from their real needs?

“Do you already have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”

How many times do we ask children if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend? How many times have we tried to gain their trust with shameless questions that violate their privacy and that we would not like to be asked of us?

In this sense, it is very likely that throughout our lives we have come across daring and shameless people who believe they have the right to give their opinion about us or our body, about our relationship as a couple or the upbringing of our children. But if as adults, these situations bother us and displease us, why do we repeat them with children? Are their lives and privacy less important than ours?

“Until you finish the whole plate, you will not get up from the table”

Imagine that you are eating in a restaurant and the waiter tells you that he will not take your plate until you finish it all . Or you go to eat at your in-laws’ house, and your mother-in-law reproaches you for leaving food behind because “she’s been cooking all morning” and “if you don’t have room for food, you won’t have room for dessert either.”

Ridiculous and implausible, right?

Well then, why don’t we respect children when they don’t want to eat anymore ? Why do we blackmail, threaten or punish them if they don’t finish the whole plate? Why do we ignore their tastes, but we adults would never eat something that we don’t like?

On many occasions, what is hidden behind these types of reactions is a concern for the child’s health. In that case, it is advisable to consult with the pediatrician, but never force them to eat.

“Do not interrupt the conversation of the elders”

How angry it was when we were children and they told us that “shut up, we grown-ups are talking” , and we had to remain silent for a long time because they never gave us the floor. And all to see that between them, the adults, the dialogues were continually stepped on and they did not respect the turns.

If it would never occur to us to say something like that to an adult with whom we are conversing, why do we so rudely silence children when they try to tell us something? We can teach them the importance of not interrupting and waiting for their turn to speak in a positive, educational and respectful way.

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