We reached out to educators, researchers, and counselors and asked them this question, “what are the things you should never say to your child?”  Their answers may surprise you! We’ve listed the top ten below:

#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 girlfriend who just lost her job or was going through a break-up?  Probably not. Then why would you say it to your kids when they’re having a rough time?

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 they 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” is probably one of those things you should never say to your child.

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

First off, 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 appearance, to get better results. Make eating right and moving fun! Don’t make it about looks.

#4 “I’m So Fat” or “I Look Gross.”

Your kids hear everything, and 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 may 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. 

#5 “Stop Being Such A Baby!”

Here’s something you really shouldn’t say. What are your kids supposed to be…adults? Because, guess what? 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, head on, without shame.

ten things you should never say to your child
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#6 “You Did A Great Job On That Test 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.

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 on its own, later, 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. This is one of the things you should never say to your child. At this point, it’s too late for that. Telling them to “calm down” only invalidates the very real emotions they’re feeling. If anyone needs to try and 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. Instead, ask what frightens them and talk through it. Feeling fear is totally normal. Boys or girls “don’t get scared” is 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 ass 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 more advice? You can check out this best-seller, enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals. It contains positive phrases to help you communicate more effectively. 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.