As a parent, it’s important to be mindful when talking to teens about things we don’t necessarily agree with or that we’d like to change. Teens struggle with self-esteem issues and having their parents judge their everyday moves can weigh heavy on their minds.
Here are 8 things you should stop saying to your teenager if you want to ensure your familiar bond remains intact. Remember, it’s an emotional time for these kids, and your words will be misconstrued, leading to nothing but heartache and self-doubt.
What are things you should never say to your teen? You should never compare your child to one of their friends or speak poorly of their click. It’s also important to never judge them physically or question their personal style. As a parent, it is critical that you welcome the quirky and unique factors that make your teen special, not ask them to change to be more like the general crowd.
8 Things You Should Stop Saying To Your Teenager
There is no one doubting that your guidance is coming from a great place. You want what is best for your child, but often time critical statements do more damage than anything else.
You’d be so much prettier if…
This phrase might seem innocent because when you look at your child, all you see is beauty and potential, but hearing this phrase is detrimental to a child’s mental health. Maybe in your heart, you think your child looks great in skirts and hate that she prefers joggers, but to frame the thought this way is not constructive or beneficial to anyone.
Teens constantly find faults with their appearances because of the unrealistic beauty standards that are set by society. Women, in particular, spend too much time comparing themselves to their peers and perfect pictures of other people on social media. They don’t need their mother feeding into the hysteria.
Why can’t you be more like…
Why can’t you get good grades like Anna? I have a full confession – I used to do this. In fact, I did it for many years until my daughter was old enough to verbalize that it really hurt her feelings. After that conversation, I stopped judging and started focusing solely on my house.
These statements demotivate and do the complete opposite of what was originally planned. When translated into teen language, you are really saying, “Everyone is better than you. You aren’t good enough the way you are, so be someone else.” Ouch.
I don’t believe you.
Imagine explaining a situation to your partner and getting this phrase as an answer? I don’t believe you breaks down any trust barriers that exist between a parent and a child.
Of course, teens will lie and you will catch them, this is part of life. However, when you say this term it completely shuts down the conversation. There is no way around this phrase. It’s as if you’ve made up your mind 100% – and that’s that! Why not continue to talk with your child and hear more about their side of the story?
Well, when I was younger…
“Well, when I was your age, we had this and did that.” Usually, you say these things to show your children how easy their lives are these days. But all your teen feels is belittled and undermined.
Again, I’ve been there a thousand times and it’s so hard to watch your child suffer needlessly over things you know are not the end of the world, but if it’s important to them then it has to be important to you.
Teenagers are drowning in the sea of new life experiences, trying to figure out who they are. They don’t need you to confuse them more by adding diminishing perspectives into the mix.
You have nothing to be sad about.
I understand the urge to cheer your child up by making them see that what they are going through isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Odds are… you’ve walked down a much rockier road than your young ones. Life was just different when we were all younger. We were left to our own devices which meant bigger mistakes were made at a much younger age. However, your child has nothing to compare her life to except her OWN past experiences.
When you tell your teenager that they have nothing to be sad about, they feel like you think they are overacting and are behaving incorrectly. Maybe you just want them to go outside and get some fresh air, but does this life really offer that many opportunities to do that anymore?
When we were younger, we would all just head outside and play. No playdates made – just went outside! The kids these days typically don’t have it like that. So, if you see your child sitting alone in their room, bored out of their mind, it might be because they are truly sad about being alone. That’s a valid feeling. Try not to make them feel ashamed or guilty about the emotion.
Instead, do your best to listen, acknowlede, and validate their feelings.
All of your friends …
It’s natural to feel protective of your child and look for troublemakers in your teenager’s friend circle. You want to warn your baby to stay away from some kids who might be a bad influence and nudge them towards nice girls/boys. But when you tear down your teen’s friends, they see it as a personal attack. After all, they chose those friends themselves, love them, and are most likely loyal to the bunch.
Saying bad things about your teen’s friends won’t help you keep them safe. Perhaps, you could learn more about everyone your child hangs out with so that you can understand why your teen chose them in the first place.
I need to lose weight.
Oh, this one is going to hurt. I think many mothers are guilty of criticizing their bodies in front of their daughters (it’s less likely to be the case with fathers and sons). These same mothers feel shocked when they hear their daughters criticizing their own bodies. But why would daughters behave differently than what they’ve seen their whole lives?
Your child adores you and sees no flaws in you – whatsoever. When you verbally and publically tear yourself apart, you are insulting a person whom your kid loves very much, and you are teaching them that this is the only way to feel about their bodies.
So if you want your teenager to love their bodies, start with your own relationship with your body. Lead by example and break this cycle of women not accepting themselves.
No one will like you if you keep acting this way.
This is another common thing that parents say to teens that they should avoid continuing. No one will like you if you keep (insert quirky behavior here). Odds are, the thing you are focusing on is what makes your child uniquely him/her. It’s different. It stands out. It worries you that it will attract bullies.
But should you ask your child to change him/herself? In essence, you are teaching your teen to blend in with the crowd. Is that the example we want to offer as a life lesson?
Finding the right words to communicate your ideas to your teenager isn’t easy. There will be times where you don’t have the patience to say it the right way, but don’t worry because an apology can go a long way. As long as you work towards improving communication, this new way of approaching teen life will come with ease.
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