5 Things best left unsaid to children

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The opinion on what to tell kids and how to convey a message is polarized. While one school of thought suggests that parents should be outright upfront and mince no words in voicing their opinion, the other urges parents to be subtle and sugarcoat what they are saying.

While the debate would continue on how frank parents should be with their kids- what should be ignored and what all is to be disciplined at what age- there is near unanimity that there are some things that are best left unsaid to children.

To find what should never say to kids, read on:

You are not doing well
You, as a parent know that the kid is capable of doing much more and achieving much more. But for some reason; be it procrastination, complacency, or plain laziness the kid is not performing to the best of his abilities. Obviously, the parents are tempted to tell the child, “You are not doing well.” The intention of the parents may be right, however what is said may not be taken in the right perspective. The child may feel demoralized because of this comment and may lose the zest to perform better subsequently. The parents could rather tell the child, “We know that you can do much better.”

Do not eat chocolates, junk food
The adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Why do we need to tell the kids not to eat chocolates, candies or junk food? First things first! Such stuff should never be stocked at home and therefore, while the kid is at home, eating unhealthy food is not an option. At the same time, it is a good idea to encourage the child to indulge in lot of physical exercises. Having done that, the kid is free to grab cookies and chips while on an outing or at the birthday bash.

You never listen to me
A lot of what is told to kids falls on deaf ears. That’s true for most parents. So you are not the only one who is frustrated and pulling hair. There are many people sailing in the same boat. Please remember, kids become what we tell them they are. Therefore the phrase “you never listen to me” should not be a part of the vocabulary of any parent.

Your sister/brother does this, you don’t
No comparisons please. Each child is unique. Everyone has limitations and of course, everyone has some strength. These strong points may not be common between siblings. Therefore, it is okay if one child is extremely good at academics and the other is just about average. Comparing the two would add to sibling rivalry. And that is one thing you do not want for sure. So instead, encourage each child in his area of expertise and motivate them to reach the apex in whatever they choose to do in life.

I don’t like that friend of yours
“I don’t like that friend of yours.” Hey, what are you saying? That friend (Mike) will become all the more appealing to your child. If there is something really egregious about Mike, indulge in a discussion with your child. Questions like ‘What do you do when you are with Mike?’ ‘How much time does Mike spend on studies?’ are likely to raise important issues including the one that you, as a parent don’t like. That’s half the job done. Take the conversation to values, attitudes, likes and dislikes, what’s right, what’s not. During the course of the conversation, you will tell your child that what Mike does is not what fits into your scheme of things.

Edited by Neelam Goswami on 27-02-2014.

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