Creative Child

8 Phrases to Eradicate from Your Child’s Vocabulary

by Rebecca Eanes

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4. Labeling phrases.

“I’m stupid” or “I’m too sensitive.” This kind of negative speaking and thinking can lead to anxiety and mood disorders. Dispute negative labeling phrases like these by pointing out your child’s positive qualities or asking them to point out their own good characteristics; be their light reflectors. We usually end with “don’t say that” but by helping children actually practice positive thinking and speaking, we equip them with a skill they’ll need for a lifetime.

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 5. “I can’t” phrases.

If your child says “I can’t” often, it could be a sign of low self-esteem. Help your child transform her “I can’t” into “I can try.” Then help her name actionable steps to achieve her goal. “You can do anything you set your mind to” is a nice affirmation, but without teaching how to plan and take action, it falls short of being truly helpful.

6. Put-down phrases.

Any phrase coming out of a child’s mouth that puts down another human being needs to be addressed. You might hear “oh, siblings argue” or “kids will be kids,” as excuses to dismiss these phrases, but these are not excuses. Let’s teach our children to look for the light in others and to treat everyone with respect and kindness. Of course, this begins by treating our children with respect and kindness and seeing the light in them first. If a child is putting other’s down, it’s a sign that he needs to be lifted up because he’s feeling bad on the inside.

7. Catastrophizing phrases.

This occurs when a relatively small problem is blown way out of proportion and becomes larger than life. Meanwhile the positive and good gets minimized. This can also be when a person assumes the worst possible outcome will happen.

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Imagine your child is in a play and messes up one of his lines. It’s a small slip and hardly anyone even notices. But to your child, it’s an epic failure. He doesn’t see that the rest of his performance was excellent because he is only focused on his one little slip-up. It spirals into him thinking he ruined the play and he never wants to act again.

Help him not make mountains out of molehills by showing him how to look at the situation through a positive lens. Point out that out of all those lines he had to memorize, he nailed 99% of them. Focus on and celebrate his accomplishment but also celebrate the effort so he can learn to do the same.

8. Negative assumptions.

“Jason probably didn’t invite me to the party because he doesn’t like me.” “My teacher thinks I’m dumb and won’t call on me in class.” When we hear phrases from our kids that show us they’re jumping to conclusions and making negative assumptions, we can help by asking them what proof they have that this assumption is true and asking if they can find proof to dispel their negative assumption. Then offer an alternative possibility.

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“Is it possible that Jason just forgot to invite you?” you might say, or, “Maybe your teacher doesn’t call on you because she expects you will know the answer and she is testing the other students.” By encouraging children to find proof, they can begin to challenge their own negative thoughts and not be so hasty in assuming the negative.

Most of these phrases are based upon cognitive distortions – irrational or exaggerated thought patterns that, over time, can result in depression and anxiety. We can lead our children down the road to better mental health by eradicating these 8 negative phrases from their vocabularies and teaching them to reframe, be realistic, and to look for the positive in themselves and in others.

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.


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