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5 Things You Should Avoid Saying To All Pregnant Women

5 Things You Should Avoid Saying To All Pregnant Women

Being pregnant is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can also be nerve-wracking, as well. Unnecessary comments from friends, family, and strangers can contribute added stress. These people might think that they are giving helpful advice, but instead they are just creating extra worry for the pregnant woman.

These remarks are not intentionally meant to be negative, but to pregnant women who are going through numerous physical and emotional changes in their lives already, such comments hinder more than they help.

Even if you were once pregnant, it does not give you the right to say anything you like, and assume you can relate, since every woman’s body reacts to pregnancy differently. A good way to make sure you are saying something positive is to consider how you would react if the question was turned back onto yourself, your sister, or a close friend.

Here are a few things that everyone should avoid saying to pregnant women:

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     1. “This period of pregnancy was really rough on me…”

    Saying this may seem like you’re commiserating with a pregnant woman who may be suffering through debilitating morning sickness in her first trimester or having to deal with the aches and pains of the last few weeks before she gives birth, but it usually has a negative effect. Hold your tongue and instead say something positive and uplifting that will help her get through this difficult time. If you are especially close, ask her if she needs help with anything, from cooking to running errands for her.

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      2. “You look huge…”

      This is a common phrase that is heard around pregnant women, especially in their final trimester, but it is not always encouraging. If a pregnant women looks big, chances are that she feels ten times bigger than she actually is. It is important to be sensitive towards a pregnant woman’s physical appearance and instead ask her neutral questions like, “do you know if it is going to be a girl or a boy?” Taking the focus off of her body and instead asking questions that are likely to bring her joy is an important way of showing your support.

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        3. “[ … ] happened to me at this stage…”

        Comparing your own pregnancy with hers, whether you were pregnant before, or are currently pregnant, is detrimental to all parties involved. Comparison in general is not productive in any situation, especially in terms of a deeply personal experience like pregnancy. Instead of comparing your physical experiences of pregnancy, try to focus on other similarities, like are you both having boys? What about the name selection process? Avoid discussing the process of the actual pregnancy and focus on subjects that are bound to bring you both joy.

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          4. “Pregnant women probably should not […]”

          Any sentence that contains a negative statement like “should not” is an indicator that you are trying to offer your personal opinions on a topic. For pregnant women, they already have enough to worry about in their own minds, without unwanted input from others. Even if you are close friend or a family member, it is important to back-off on the unsolicited advice. If a mother-to-be wants your advice, she will ask for it.

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            5. “Avoid eating […]”

            The list of taboo foods a pregnant woman should avoid is extensive, but telling her that she cannot eat a certain item is more harmful than it is helpful. Her primary doctor should be the only one that consults with her about what she can and cannot eat. Every woman’s body is different during pregnancy and what is fine for one person may not be healthy for another. It is also important to take into consideration that there are different cultural beliefs surrounding a woman’s pregnancy that might influence what a particular woman may consider taboo.

            Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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            Published on January 24, 2020

            5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

            5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

            There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is hard. It takes a great deal of effort to be even a decent parent. My husband and I are raising our three children ages 6, 6, and 7.

            Yes, I have my hands full. Twin six-year-old boys and a seven-year-old girl keep me on my parenting toes, so to speak. It is not easy, but I do my best to be a good parent. Having a PhD in psychology is helpful, but I still devour plenty of parenting books and research articles to continually try to do better. I am still a work in progress just like all parents.

              It would be great if we knew exactly what to do and how to do it with our kids. But not all kids are the same and they are not born with a manual that provides us with instructions on how to raise them right. However, we do have research on parenting and psychology that can help us out and point us in the right direction.

              Below I have five tips on how to improve your parenting skills starting today! These tips are backed by research. The first step toward being a great parent is knowing how. It is difficult to be a good parent without knowing first and foremost the how and why.

              1. Practice Loving without Conditions

              Loving unconditionally seems like a given that we all assume we are doing as a parent. However, we may have behaviors or words spoken that undermine our ability for our children to feel unconditionally loved.

              For example, asking our child if he wants another mom when he is acting out is not practicing unconditional love. The message that is being sent to the child is that if they act out or misbehave, they are at risk of losing you as a mother, since you ask “do you want another mom” or “do you want to live somewhere else?”

              If you have ever made these statements, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. However, if we want our child to feel loved unconditionally, then we need to stop saying things that make the child feel like the relationship could ever be severed because of their behavior.

              Another way to look at these threats is comparing them to threatening divorce. If you have ever been married, or lived in a home with married parents, then you know that when one person threatens divorce, it cuts to the core.

              Threatening divorce damages the relationship, because trust is lost. The other person begins to feel that that their relationship may not be forever, and that the relationship can be ended because their spouse is threatening divorce. Even if the person threatening doesn’t really mean what they are saying and they truly love their spouse, the words are damaging none the less.

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              The same principles go for parent and child relationships. If a child has been threatened with loss of their current home life, the parent leaving them, or being placed in foster care, then that child does not feel loved unconditionally. They will believe that love from their parent is contingent on their behavior. It is conditional love which means that they are only loved under certain conditions.

              My son Charlie has recently gotten into the habit of saying “I love you Mom” every time that he gets in trouble. He kicked the dog the other day. Not hard, but nevertheless he kicked our family dog. I was fuming. I yelled at him and he was sent to his room for a long time out (I know the yelling was not a good thing to do). I couldn’t even think of a consequence in the heat of the moment so I said “go to your room, I don’t want to see you right now, I will think about your consequence later.”

              He cried, and as he was running up the stairs and he was saying “I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy.” Why was he saying that? Because in his six-year-old mind, he is worried that I will stop loving him if he has bad behavior.

              Kids don’t know that we love them unconditionally. They are learning though and we must teach them that we do. My response in this situation and always is to say “I love you too.” I then usually follow it up with “I don’t like your behavior right now, but I will always love you.”

              Kids need to be told that they are loved regardless of their behavior. It needs to be ingrained that they are loved even if they act out, break the rules, or misbehave.

              An article by Elite Daily examined several research studies on unconditional love.[1] The findings from these studies showed that children become more well-adjusted, emotionally healthy, and physically healthy adults when they experience unconditional love in childhood. When children are exposed to conditional love in their parent-child relationship, the research showed that, children have higher levels of anxiety which in turn negatively affects their long-range health, such as heart health.

              Loving unconditionally means loving without conditions. Unconditional love is loving someone just the way that they are, flaws and all. Tell your children that you love them, even when they break the rules, misbehave, or they tell you that they hate you (most kids say this to their parents at some point in time).

              You must always respond with “I love you regardless of your behavior.” It doesn’t mean that you are accepting or allowing the bad behavior. There should always be reasonable consequences to match the behavior. However, they shouldn’t ever be made to feel that the love of their parent can be revoked because of bad behaviors.

              2. Develop a Bond That Will Last a Lifetime by Creating Memories

              You need to spend time with your kids in order to create a bond. Quality time matters, but so does quantity time.

              Kids want to be with their parents. Spend time together as a family. For example, make it a point to have dinner at the kitchen or dining room table at least a few nights a week. Make a rule that no technology is allowed at the table during that time, so that you can talk and spend time together.

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              Before you know it, that child will be grown and out of your home. Take the time to spend meal times together, talking and truly getting to know your child before they leave your home as an adult.

              Barking Up the Wrong Tree looked at research on how to create happy memories that last a lifetime. Some of the things discovered in the research included:[2]

              • Memories are made when our senses and emotions are elevated.
              • If we are pulling out the camera phone, it is likely an elevated experience that you want to remember.
              • Celebrating milestones and praiseworthy moments (graduations, winning seasons, etc.) helps to create positive lasting memories.
              • Struggling together creates a bond. If you have worked through conflict in your relationship and made it better in the process then you have created a bond. Fraternities haze, soldier fight together, and families overcome struggles together. These all make for lasting bonds. When you struggle together as a family, celebrate the success at the end of your victory, once you have overcome the challenge together.

              Take the time to make memories with your children. They are only little once. Go on those vacations, hike to the top of a mountain together, sail across an ocean, go camping, or teach them to ice-skate.

              Do anything and everything that will help create memories, bonds, and experiences that will last a lifetime in their memory. Those memories are what will carry them into old age with happiness in their heart.

              3. Stop the Yelling

              Yelling at our kids is not good parenting. Yet it is still happening on regular basis in most homes. I admit, I am still continually working on this one. I think this quote summarizes the situation.

                However, I know I need to continually work to not yell or raise my voice, as I would prefer a household with zero voices ever raised.

                Yelling causes our children to become anxious. It also affects them emotionally and mentally in a negative manner. If you have ever been yelled at by a boss or superior, you probably remember it and it is not a fond memory. It made you feel bad. It is hard enough to be reprimanded in a calm voice.

                When someone, whether adult or child, is yelled at while being reprimanded it causes anxiety, stress, and negative emotions to abound. When the yelling involves name calling or insults it becomes emotional abuse.

                Heathline Parenthood examined research on the topic of yelling and found that parents who yell at their kids end up with children who are more aggressive verbally and physically.[3] Children learn from their parents’ example. If yelling is a regular occurrence in your household, then your child is learning that when dealing with behavior or situations that they don’t like, it is appropriate to yell. None of us want to teach that to our children, so we must take action to stop the yelling.

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                Healthline provides some tips on how to stop yelling:

                • Know what triggers the yelling. What are the behaviors occurring or situations where you find yourself yelling at your children?
                • When you feel that you are going to yell, give yourself a time out or count to ten.
                • Practice responding in a calm, even tone. Practice makes the action a habit.
                • If you do yell, then admit the mistake and apologize to your child. They will then learn that it is not an acceptable behavior and that they too should apologize if they make a mistake and end up yelling. (Yes, I apologized to Charlie for yelling and he had to apologize to our dog Max.)

                My article about yelling less at your kids less is also helpful: The Only Effective Way to Talk With Children When They Are Acting Out. This article outlines the steps to use the “one-ask” parenting approach. This approach is used to help parents follow up with consequences more quickly so that situations don’t escalate to worse behavior by the children and yelling from the parents. Some tips from this article on talking to your children without yelling include the following.

                • Get on their level, talking face to face in a calm voice.
                • Don’t make repeated threats about a consequence that is coming to them and wait for the situation to become more heated.
                • Follow through with the consequence (i.e. loss of playtime or time-out) immediately after they violate your warning. Don’t wait for them to repeat the bad behavior several more times. One warning is all that is needed. Then, if they break the rule or don’t obey, the consequence should be immediately implemented.

                If you find that your yelling is so entrenched in your daily behaviors that you have a hard time kicking the habit and you need more support, then buy, or find at your local library, the book Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. Their tips were even featured on the Focus on the Family national radio program and were rated as a number one show for 2019. Their gentle parenting methods simply work.

                A quote from the book:

                “Peacemaking moms produce peacemaking kids.”

                Wendy and Amber also have a Facebook group that is free to join. It is Gentle Parenting with Amber and Wendy. In this group, you will find thousands of other parents looking for support to yell less in their homes. Check out the group if you want more connected support to stop yelling at your kids. I am a member of this group too. Nobody is perfect, but we can do better as parents by yelling less starting today.

                4. Provide Experiences Over Toys

                Toys are fun. But our kids don’t need an excess of overcomplicated, electronic, and expensive toys in order to be happy or develop in a healthy manner. Focusing on experiences over toys is a way to improve as a parent now.

                The next holiday or birthday that comes up, think about gifting your child an experience, for example, a year membership to the children’s museum or zoo. Another experience is a trip to someplace interesting such as a National Park. These experiences help to create memories. They also help to make your child a more well rounded individual as they are out in the world experiencing activities rather than sitting in their room playing the newest video game.

                Motherly posted a recent article that delved into the science that experiences are better for our kids than toys. Here is a quote from that article that is worth noting.[4]

                And if we need one more reason to cool it on the toy giving, researchers have discovered that gratitude and generosity increase when experiences are given instead of objects. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted many studies over many decades and found that happiness is derived from experiences, not things. Bottom line: The happiness derived from a childhood experience is far more significant than the fleeting excitement of toys under the Christmas tree. Giving experiences that involve spending time together instead of gifting toys brings greater and longer-lasting joy. Don’t stress about the number of toys, mama. Focus on making memories.

                Creating family experiences and making memories go hand-in-hand. Our money and resources get more bang for their buck when they are used on experiences for the family instead of things. The research from the Motherly article shows that families are happier overall when they have more experiences together and less toys.

                5. Let Them Play and Be a Child

                Play and childhood development go hand-in-hand. However, the amount of playtime our children are getting has been diminishing in recent decades.

                We are so intent on our children learning, that we take away from their playtime. Play is learning. We need to get our children back to basic playtime so they can develop and learn in a natural way.

                Increase their playtime and limit the electronics. Research by Very Well Family found that too much technology is damaging to our children.[5] When children get too much time on electronic devices, their research found that children have sleep issues, obesity, behavior problems, academic problems, and emotional issues. Limit your children’s time on technology.

                According to We Can, we need to aim for less than two of screen time per day for our school aged children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends far less time for children under the age of five. We Can offers a free screen time chart so you can track your child’s time on digital devices.

                The goal is to get children playing and off the technology. Playing will help them developmentally. In my book Let Them Play, I explain the importance of play and provide 100 child developmental play activities. Some great play activities that promote development and learning that are listed in the book including Play Doh, magnet blocks, Legos, puppet shows, and hopscotch.

                Parents can teach their children different play activities while they actively play with their children. Fifteen or twenty minutes of playtime together can help to create bonding time between parent and child. Then the parent can allow their children to continue playing the activity on their own. This play time is crucial to the child’s healthy social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

                They are only little once. Let them be a child when they are little. Two-year-old children aren’t meant to sit at desks for hours completing school work. They were made to play, explore, and be active physically. This is how they learn and develop best.

                Final Thoughts

                These are not the only ways to improve as a parent. However, these are five ways that you can begin improving as a parent starting today.

                Nobody is a perfect parent, which means we all have room for improvement. Look at your own parenting methods objectively and decide where you can improve. Then do something about it.

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                Featured photo credit: Jonathan Daniels via unsplash.com

                Reference

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