Parents are every child’s first cheerleaders. They use words to motivate their kids in class activities, in games or sports, or in their little tasks everyday. With the regular occurrence of these words and statements at home, parents don’t realize that some words help tear down, rather than build up, their child’s confidence.
We asked Registered Guidance Counselor, Preschool Teacher, and mom of two Eden Licup Calara to share with us common statements which are seemingly harmless, but can actually make kids second guess their emotions and their worth. She also gave us tips on how to handle each situation better!
“When we tell our children not to cry or to stop crying, we are unconsciously telling them that showing emotions is not a good thing. We are teaching them that they should hide what they feel and that they have no right to get upset over things. We have to remember that young kids cry because they could not express big emotions that well yet, so they resort to crying it out.”
Expert Tip: Ironically, we tell our kids not to cry when they are young, but we encourage them to share with us how they feel when they get older. Let us help our children express their emotions as early as possible so that they will always feel safe in showing us how they really feel.
“We parents tend to do this because we want to show our younger kids an example of how things are done. But this can also lead to our children feeling that they should measure up to their siblings, which may result in competition or rivalry.”
Expert Tip: A better way of doing this is to ask the older sibling to help the younger one in accomplishing the task. This way, they would get used to helping each other as they grow up.
“This may send the message that they should never feel fear. This may lead children to feel that being afraid or fearful is wrong and might try to hide it from parents. Hiding such emotions may cause kids to deal with emotions on their own and may result in an unhealthy coping behavior.”
Expert tip: Parents can say, “It is okay to feel scared, but let us find out together how you can overcome it.”
“As parents, we want to promise the world to our children. As much as we can, we want to protect them from pain or hurt. But we know that life does not work that way. They are bound to experience difficulties and pains along the way and there would be times that things would not turn out okay. When we promise them that it will be okay, they might grow up looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and when something goes wrong, they might feel like it is the end for them.”
Expert tip: Parents can say, “Things may not be going well right now. But I know that this hard time is just temporary. Better things will come.”
“We tend to say this phrase automatically whenever we catch our children doing anything we like. For me, this is an empty praise. We say it way too often that it may cause our children to base their actions on our approval.”
Expert tip: Instead of giving out random “Good jobs,” parents can be more specific as to why a child is being praised. It can be on how nicely he drew an object/shape, how well she performed in the play, or how kind she was to her friends. This can give our children a better idea of what behavior is worth doing again.