Parenting is a ridiculously hard job that can push even the calmest among us right to the edge. Next thing you know you’re shouting something your rational mind knows is one of those things you should never say to your child; but it come tumbling out of your mouth before you can stop it.

The problem is that these negative words we blurt out in moments of frustration or anger can leave some serious psychological scars on our kids down the road.


“You can’t teach children to behave better by making them feel worse. when children feel better, they behave better.” – Pam Leo 


Couple that with the fact current research suggests that emotional abuse can actually change the structure of a child’s brain; it becomes clear that we need to be a lot more aware of and careful with the language we use around our kids.


This survival guide HELPED a lot of parents with kids age 2 to 7


We reached out to educators, researchers, and counselors and asked them this question, “what are the things you should never say to your child?”  

We listed the top ten responses below so you can cut these phrases out of your vocabulary and move towards a more positive parenting model of communication.


10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Child


1. “Stop Your Crying Right Now!”

Here’s one of the things you should never say to your child.

I mean, think about it. Would you say this to a friend who just lost her job or was going through a break-up?  

Probably not. Then why would you say it to your child when they’re having a rough time?


Related: Positive Phrases To Say Instead of ‘Stop Crying’!


Children feel strong emotions just as much as adults do, if not more. They need to know it’s okay to feel scared, sad, angry, or overwhelmed once in awhile.

Crying is a release valve to help let out their frustrations. Bottle it up now, and your child could have trouble expressing and processing emotions throughout their life.

Tears shouldn’t be taboo. 


2. “Eat Your vegetables, They’re Good For You!”

We know, dealing with a fussy eater is hard. But telling your kid to eat a food because it’s healthy could completely backfire on you.

Kids don’t care much about nutrition (sorry mom). What they hear when you say “healthy” is that it probably “tastes gross”, which could make them want to reject that food even more.

Instead of focusing on health, try focusing on taste or fun. Tell them how yummy broccoli is, or how broccoli is really little baby trees they can eat like a dinosaur.

In the eyes of a child, yummy and fun trumps health any day of the week. We’re thinking that “healthy and good for you” is probably one of those things you should never say to your child.


3. “You’re So Fat” or “You’re Gonna Get Fat.”

While it may be true that an overweight child could benefit from losing weight, telling them that they’re “fat” will just hurt their feelings, damage their self esteem, or cause added stress.

Fat shaming can lead to an unhealthy body image and disordered eating.

Plus, it isn’t going to offer your child anything in the way of encouragement or guidance for how to slim down.

When it comes to getting kids to a healthier weight, a study published in Eating and Weight Disorders suggests the following; “focus on the taste of healthy food and the benefits that come with weight loss, rather than physical appearance, to get better results.”

In other words, make eating right and physical activity seem fun! Don’t make it about looks.


4.  “Stop Being Such A Baby!”

What are your kids supposed to be…adults?

Because they’re not. And it isn’t fair to expect them to act like they are.

If a child is engaging in a behavior that seems babyish to you, pay attention to the context and try to determine the root cause.

Children sometimes regress to younger behaviors when they’re frightened or anxious. Instead of shaming them, which accomplishes nothing, try tuning in to figure out what’s really bothering them.

You can then address the root cause of the babyish behavior, head on, without guilt or shame.


5.  “I’m So Fat” or “I Look Gross.”

Your kids hear everything. When they hear you make these types of negative comments about yourself, it affects them too.

Your kids look at you and see beauty. To them, you are the most amazing person in the world and they want to be just like you!

If they hear you criticizing your body, they might model that behavior and become overly concerned with weight and appearance, particularly if they’re girls.

Derogatory comments about your weight are one of the things you should never say to your child. Model self-love instead and help boost your kids’ self-esteem. 


What are the things you should never say to your child
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6.  “You Did A Great Job On That BUT…”

Oh no, the dreaded “but” sandwich – where you give your child praise and immediately follow it up with a “but” and something they didn’t do well.

Here’s another one of those things you should never say to your child. Your compliment gets totally lost because all your child remembers is the second negative part.


Related: Build Self Esteem! 50 Words Of Encouragement For Kids


When you want to give positive reinforcement for a job well done, let the compliment stand alone, with NO BUTS!

This way your kid will actually remember the praise.

Constructive feedback can be given later on its own, without muddying the waters.


7.  “You Need To Calm Down!”

This one usually happens during an emotional outburst or temper tantrum, and it’s about as helpful as throwing gas on a fire.

If your child could calm down, they wouldn’t be throwing a fit in the first place. 

At this point it’s too late for that. Telling them to “calm down” will only invalidate the very real emotions they’re feeling.

If anyone needs to remain calm, it’s probably you. Be patient until the storm passes, then talk through the emotions that led to the outburst in the first place. 


8.  “Big Girls or Big Boys Don’t Get Scared.”

Uhhh….We’re pretty sure they do. In fact, adults get scared all the time.

Saying this to your kids invalidates their feelings and makes it seem like you’re dismissing their fears, or not really listening to what they have to say.


“Children don’t need to have their feelings agreed with; they need to have them acknowledged.” – Adele Faber


Instead, ask what frightens them and talk through it. Feeling fear is totally normal.

Boys or girls “don’t get scared” is another one of those things you should never say to your child.


9. “Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Sister/Brother?”

Here’s another item to add to the list of things you should never say to your child. This is a good way to start an inferiority complex, or potentially throw your family unit out of balance.

It can also alienate your child from his siblings, or spark sibling rivalry.

Every child is special. Each one will have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Expect and celebrate everyone’s unique differences!  Don’t play favorites.


10. “You Better Do What I Say…..OR ELSE!”

Or else….what? That’s the typical, flippant response you can expect from a kid, and for good reason.

Vague threats and unspoken punishments aren’t a good way to get someone onboard with what you want them to do.

Understanding the WHY behind the ask is. So take the extra minute to explain to your child the reason why you want them to do something.

They’re a lot more apt to comply if they understand.  



Looking for some positive things to say to your child instead?  Check out this helpful list! of 55 positive things to say to kids.

Because now that you know the things you should never say to your child, you might want some guidance on the things that you should. 


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