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18 Common Things Parents Say That Majorly Affect a Child’s Mental Health

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Countless adults sitting in a therapist’s office today are grappling with the lasting impact of words spoken by their parents during childhood. Regardless of how you perceive yourself, in your child’s eyes, you are nothing short of the most remarkable thing to happen to them since “skip intro.” This underscores the critical importance of being mindful of what you say to your children, as your words become the small but influential voice in their developing minds.

However well-meaning, here are things you should never say to your child.

1. No More Questions

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We’re living in a “why?” generation. They want to know everything, and sometimes we don’t have enough caffeine in our system to deal with all the questions.

Shutting down a curious child is not the answer. This kills their confidence and hunger for knowledge and makes them feel dumb. They will avoid asking any more questions, but you will have created a timid human who feels like they’re a bother.

2. I Could Do That At Your Age

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You and your child are different personalities who grew up in different times under different circumstances. If you could tie your laces at three years old, good for you. But we should not compare ourselves to our kids because they’re not us.

I’m pretty sure you couldn’t operate a computer at their age, but they don’t remind you that every three seconds.

3. Character Shaming

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Avoid telling them things like, “You’re lazy!”

Granted, some kids are lazy bums who need to be pushed every minute to do the basic life’s minimum. Your job as a parent is to encourage them to do better, not remind them what a sloth they are.

If they think that’s what they are, there’ll be no point in trying to change.

4. Body Shaming

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Even worse than character shaming is body shaming; at least they can do something about their character.

Calling a child “too fat, too skinny, too dark, too pale, too tall” is absolutely hateful and unnecessary. There may be little or nothing they can do about these situations. You don’t want your child to grow up with extensive low self-esteem.

5. Get Over It Now

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Love them as we do; kids can be annoying. Sometimes, a small issue gets extended and is given way more airtime than it deserves.

Giving your child a timeline to get over their feelings is insensitive. If they decide to be sad about losing the imaginary friend they have been making up for years, let them be. They’ll remember this season of their life with fondness and gratitude.

6. You’re Fine

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No, they’re not. They’re scared and anxious and don’t understand a lot because they have the life experience of a housefly.

Validate their fears and help them work through them. That’s how to nurture a grounded individual who isn’t afraid of dealing with their emotions rationally.

7. Why Can’t You Be More Like So-and-so?

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Every child is different and beautiful, and there’s beauty in that diversity. Comparing a child to their sibling or friend gives them the impression that they are less worthy than their counterpart.

8. Haven’t You Learned Anything Yet?

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If you’ve been looking for the fastest way to make your child feel dumb, this is the perfect question to ask them.

A child needs to believe they were blessed with a brain that works, even though they sometimes act like they have the brain of a starfish. They’re children, they’ll grow and learn, but you must believe it for them, too, as a parent.

9. You’re so Perfect

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Yeah, no pressure, Dad.

A child should not have to feel like they need to live up to a certain level of perfection because they will fail. And they will be ashamed. Or they may hate you for thinking they’re so perfect.

A child often told how perfect they are will never admit their faults or struggles to you, and they may turn to destructive habits to cope with the imperfections.

10. You Should Always Listen to Adults

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No, you shouldn’t, little Johny.

Some adults can’t be trusted, and some want to hurt your child.

Teach a child that they, too, have a voice and they don’t have to listen to adults just because they’re adults. Some adults lead kids astray just because they’re adults. Teach your kids to ask questions, to say no, and to run requests from adults by you.

11. You’re Too Young to Understand

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If they’re asking, they’re not too young to understand.

Some kids have an understanding capacity way above their age. It doesn’t help to dumb down things for them because they’re children. If they ask intelligent or difficult questions, gather all your brain neurons and explain things as clearly as possible.

12. You’ll Never Be Good at That

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You don’t know that, and it’s not true.

They may not be good at something now, but with practice and severance, they can actually do it. But it won’t happen if the parent keeps telling them they aren’t built for that particular thing. Be their loudest cheerleader, even when they’re clearly struggling.

A day will come when they’ll make it or quit, but it won’t be because Daddy didn’t believe in them.

13. That’s a Stupid Idea

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Maybe it really is a stupid idea, but don’t tell them that. Allow your children to be independent thinkers by helping them explore their ideas in a safe environment. The outcome will determine just how smart the idea was.

Supporting their ideas and walking with them on the journey to good ideas is what good parenting is.

14. Don’t Make Me Do Something I Will Regret

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If a parent can’t control themselves, they should not make it the child’s fault.

This strong statement makes all your mistakes, especially discipline, a child’s burden. No one can make anyone do anything, and that is true of parents and children.

Learn self-control and wisdom, and do right by the kids.

15. I Don’t Have Time For You

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Any child who hears these words from parents will know they’re not loved, valued, or wanted.

They may grow up feeling like a massive inconvenience in life and try to occupy as little space as possible. If you’re too busy with something extremely important, say so and give the attention they need when you’re done.

16. Don’t Come To Me When You Get Into Trouble

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Parents are a child’s safe haven; a child should know that they always have open doors and open arms in their parents. It’s heartbreaking to say this to a child because their sense of security is taken away.

They won’t come to you when they’re in trouble. And you’ll wish they did. But they will remember you said not to.

17. I Told You So

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This statement disregards any compassion or that fact that we’re all human. If a child makes a mistake, helping them learn form it is better than rubbing it in their face and making them feel dumb.

18. Do Better Next Time

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Holding high expectation for children that are learning everyday is tough on their mental status. Guide them to make good choices, but don’t be too hard on them when they inevitably falter.


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