Thursday, 16 October 2008
by Mama Fox7 Important Things to Say (and 7 things not to say) to Your Kids
The buzzer sounded in the gym in Melbourne, Florida, and the basketball game was over. Even though 12-year-old C.J. Givens's team had lost, his aunt Melanie was ecstatic. C.J. had scored every single one of his team's 24 points -- including a couple of three-pointers. As he loped over to his family waiting in the bleachers, the hugs and compliments started flying: "You were awesome!" "Way to hustle for all those points!" Then C.J.'s aunt said, "Now, if you could just help your teammates play as well as you do, you guys would be unstoppable!"
"What do you mean?" C.J. said defensively. "I did the best I could! What didn't I do right?" His aunt couldn't understand the boy's reaction. She'd just finished showering him with praise.
"The message C.J. got was that he didn't do enough," explains child psychologist Vicki Panaccione, PhD, founder of the Better Parenting Institute in Melbourne. "His aunt was telling him he was so fabulous, he could be a mentor to his teammates. An adult would have gotten that. But that's not what he heard, because of the words she used."
A parent, or anyone else who interacts regularly with kids, knows that communicating effectively with them can be difficult. In C.J.'s case, his aunt simply explained herself and the boy calmed down. But common words and phrases, no matter how well -- intended, can do emotional and psychological harm. Young brains are still developing through the teen years, and kids can't be expected to process words, context and nuance (sarcasm, for instance) the same way that an adult's brain does. If you want children to grow up into the best possible versions of themselves, it's crucial to replace damaging words in your vocabulary with alternatives that help build character. Some of the things parents say to kids seem harmless or even constructive on the surface, but, experts say, they may hurt more than help. Here are seven of these common phrases, and alternatives to get your message across in a better way.
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Have you ever said something to your child and he/she misinterpreted it?