It is common knowledge that children have impressionable minds. Think of it like the proverbial tabula rasa or empty tablet; it is very easy to influence them and even easier to mentally damage them.
Children learn by, as even Plato had put, by mimesis or imitation. And when they see you reacting violently to them, frequently scolding them, reprimanding them or not approving of their actions and thoughts, it will affect them in a very negative way.
There is actually a whole school of psychological science dedicated to children – developmental psychology. Originally restricted to children, this field now tries to explain the effects of childhood influences on an individual throughout their lifetime which underscores the fact that damage done in the childhood does indeed affect an individual throughout their lifespan.
Healthy criticism, minimal reprimand with lots of affection, approval where it is due imparted with practical use in mind, is more or less the lump sum of what the child requires.
There are certain things you also should not be saying to your child. This is one of the easier things to do that assists in the all-round development of your child as well.
Here are four of the worst things that you really shouldn’t be saying to your child. There are variations as of each, of course.
1. “You’re too sensitive”
Children are naturally more empathetic than adults. Their tendency and ability to empathize with others is based on their finely tuned nervous systems. Empathy can never be a bad thing and if anything, it is what the world requires a lot of.
When you ask a child why he/she is so sensitive, you are negatively criticizing one of its most humane abilities, calling into question its ability to be kind itself.
As a result, the message gets imprinted on its impressionable mind that being kind might not be something that is worth rejoicing or celebrating. Consequently it gets wary of kindness shown to itself and hardens up.
Being sensitive is associated with creativity, and nipping that in the bud is something that will affect their futures adversely too.
It is a known fact that male children especially are taught to not be “too sensitive”, if that even makes sense. This is something that requires immediate attention, as crying happens to be one of the few forms of pure expression, and cutting that off in a child will damage his sense of self in the worst ways.
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2. “That’s life for you”
Translating to, “What happened to you, happens to everyone and is nothing special so do not attach any importance to it.”
Invalidating a child’s problems or issues can totally shatter their self-confidence, mentally crippling them forever. No matter how illogically petty it may seem, listen to your child and tell him/her that yes, they matter and so do their problems.
Tell them that things get better and they just have to be brave and strong and not give up in life.
3. “Because I said so”
One of the worst ones is this. This literally makes the child feel that it has no agency whatsoever in life. It will make him/her feel so dwarfed that they will keep finding father-figures to obey and be submissive to throughout their lives.
If your child seems to be doing something you don’t want him to, or something that you do not approve of, tell them lovingly. Do not lose your temper and make the ‘you not telling them not to’ is the only reason they need to not be doing a certain something anymore.
4. “Shut up”
Do not shut yourself out by silencing your child. Talk to him/her and let them voice themselves. It is understandable that rearing a child can be challenging and you might feel that you have lost contact with yourself.
But do not blame your child for it. On the contrary, become a friend to him/her. Make them feel comfortable around you. It will do wonders for their development.