Creative Child

8 Phrases to Eradicate from Your Child’s Vocabulary

by Rebecca Eanes

Helping our children develop a positive inner voice is one of the big jobs of parenting. It’s an easier job for parents with children who tend to be more optimistic, and more of a challenge for parents of kids who are naturally more pessimistic or self-critical. Although my two children have been raised with the same parental language, one is naturally more self-critical and requires more coaching while the other is fairly confident and positive. The point I’m making here is if your child is struggling with any of these negative phrases, it isn’t your fault. We are all wired a bit differently, but there are things we can do to help. Here are 8 phrases that I’m working to eradicate from my kids’ vocabulary. 

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1. All-or-nothing phrases.

“I will never be able to do this” or “I always mess this up” or “nothing ever goes my way.” These are self-defeating phrases and children need to learn to be more realistic with their thoughts and their words. Challenge these all-or-nothing phrases by asking questions and helping your child see a bigger picture. For example, if my son were to say, “I’ll never get a homerun!” I might say, “Remember when you got that hit a few games ago and made it to second base? That was a big improvement from just a few months ago. All of your hard work and practice has already paid off, so what do you think might happen if you keep practicing?”

2. Blaming phrases.

“He made me do it” or “it’s all my fault.” Blaming others for our own behavior is a quick and easy scapegoat, but I want to teach my children that they alone hold the power over their actions and must take responsibility for their choices. Likewise, self-blame can quickly lead one into a pit of negativity and causes us to get stuck rather than look for solutions. Challenge blaming phrases by pointing out that we are in charge of our own actions and that working toward solutions is always more productive than laying blame anywhere.

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3. Should phrases.

“I should have aced that math test.” Should statements often cause anxiety because they imply that the person has complete control of every situation; this is another example of a self-defeating phrase. When our kids put impractical demands on themselves, it sets them up for failure. Reframe “should statements” with something more positive. “You did the best you could, and that’s good enough.”

Labeling phrases and more on page 2...


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