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After I Read This I Decided Not To Say These Things To My Kids Anymore

After I Read This I Decided Not To Say These Things To My Kids Anymore

Are you a nagging parent who is always expressing opinions which reflect an overcritical attitude? Maybe your remarks sound harsh and discouraging and yet you never realized it. Perhaps you are alarming your kids unnecessarily. Maybe you are using comments which are totally ineffective. Read these 15 remarks which are unhelpful and at times hurtful. And discover what to say instead.

1. “Quit dawdling.”

You are under pressure to meet the deadline for getting out of the house on time. Your kid dawdles and takes ages to get ready. According to parenting experts, this message puts unnecessary pressure on the child. It is much better to say that you are going to have a race to get your shoes on. This helps the child develop time awareness skills through play, according to Miriam Stoppard, the author of Baby’s First Skills. You can also try to simply say, “Let’s get a move on.”

2. “I’m too fat.”

Kids do not need to hear all your obsessions about your own body image. If they do, they may become far too conscious of their own shape and become fixated, especially if they are on the chubby or skinny side. Talk about healthy eating and why you prefer certain foods. Avoid saying that certain foods make you fat. Try saying things like, “We’re eating greens because they really make us feel good.”

3. “Don’t talk to strangers.”

If you tell them this all the time, they will grow up fearful and overly suspicious. They will have to be exposed to risk at some point and learn how to deal with it. It is much better to teach them that most people, even if strangers, can be trusted. They can trust policemen, librarians and other public officials. It is much better to warn them about certain suspicious behavior which should put them on their guard instead of about strangers in general. Warn them about people asking them for help. It is preferable to act out scenarios by asking them what they would do, for example, “What would you do if …”, quoting one of the scenarios you have practised.

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4. “No ice cream unless you finish up your spinach.”

There is no point in using threats or bribes at mealtimes. It spoils the enjoyment of food for everybody. Perhaps we should be more relaxed about it. Susie Orbach, the author of Fat Is A Feminist Issue says that parental anxiety about food can lead to food disorders. We have to get the balance right between obsessing over calories and insisting that the child eats healthily. Try a remark such as, “This tastes really good, it’s similar to X that you really like.”

5. “Use your words.”

The problem with telling your child to brush up her vocabulary and try to express her feelings verbally is, that it may make the child feel uncomfortable and inadequate. It is probably still too early to expect them to remember all the words you have taught them. The parenting gurus rightly tell us that reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways to teach new words.

It is much better to say, “Are you feeling x or y…?” and “Let’s think about it.” so that you help them with using the new or difficult word. It also helps you to bond with your child. Otherwise, they will begin to feel that life at home is one long examination.

6. “Don’t spill your milk.”

This is a negative command, just like “Don’t run” or “Don’t touch the oven.” The problem with using negative commands is that they give the child no idea of what he or she should do instead! They actually put the wrong ideas into their heads and they are even more likely to touch the hot oven. A much better approach is to say something like, “Be careful with your glass of milk.” Or “Stay away from the oven.”

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 7. “Let me help.”

If you say and do this often enough, your child will never be able to solve problems on his own. Offering to help all the time is undermining the kid’s independence and may even interfering negatively with his or her development. They will never develop resilience, build skills or learn patience, as Daniel Coyle has suggested in this blog post. It is much better to ask a guiding question or make a suggestion. You can always say, “Have you tried using the bigger blocks?” when a child is trying to solve a puzzle.

 8. “You can cry all night.”

This harsh attitude is damaging to the child because there is no way she can get comfort or affection. According to psychologists, it is always important to take care of the child’s needs before desperation and distress set in. Many parents believe that taking this tough stance will lead to a more independent child. Actually, according to psychologists, the opposite is true and the child will grow up insecure. They recommend that soothing care should be timely. You can read them a story or repeat a nursery rhyme to them.

9. “What a smart kid you are.”

This is not enough to encourage a child in developing her self-esteem and confidence. These phrases which are blank statements do not focus on how the child actually achieved what he or she did. This is the view of Susan Newman, a social psychologist and parenting coach. A much better approach is to praise the child’s efforts and strategies. You could say, “I really liked the colors you chose for the picture of the house,” or “That was great when you passed the ball for the winning goal.”

10. “Wait until your father/mother gets home.”

If you resort to these tactics, you are probably not on the same page as your spouse in regards of discipline. Even worse, there may be a “good cop, bad cop” atmosphere which your kid will exploit for all its worth. It is a much better idea to deal with the discipline issue immediately and tell the child why. For example, you can say, “You are getting a time out because you hit your brother.”

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11. “You’re okay.”

If your kid is hurt and is crying, you may think the above remark is reassuring. It is not nearly enough to put things right as the child is in shock and needs support. You cannot brush it aside like that. A much more supportive comment would be, “Wow, that was a nasty fall.” Then you can offer first aid and a kiss to make it better.

12. “You should set a good example for your brother or sister.”

The problem here is that the older kids are a bit jealous of the all the attention the younger siblings get from their parents. This may result in bad behavior or just being difficult. Instead of criticizing a one-off, you could praise his usual behavior. You can say, “You know, your brother sees you as a good role model.”

13. “Don’t worry, that is not going to affect you at all.”

When kids watch national tragedies or wars and terrorism on TV, they naturally become worried and fretful. It may be a good idea to limit exposure to such events. But we have to be careful not to brush their fears aside nor try to brush it under the carpet. Talk about the safety procedures or emergency plans that are in place. You can say, “Mom and Dad will always be around to keep you safe so do not fret.”

14. “Don’t cry.”

If your child is upset about the death of a pet or some other tragedy, this remark is not helpful. It is not sufficient. It is important to tell them that it is perfectly normal to let it all out by crying but telling them to stop is not being supportive. A much better approach is to help them recognize that they are sad and that crying can help to express the sadness. You can say, “It’s normal to cry when someone dies. Let me give you a hug.”

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15. “If you don’t clean your room, you will be punished.”

Another threat using the rather menacing word ‘if’. Most parenting experts warn us that using too many threats or warnings is not the way to implement positive parenting. Too many warnings may result in a rather hostile atmosphere and it will be difficult to enjoy a happy home. It is much better to say something beginning with the word, ‘when.’ You could say, “When you have cleaned your room, then you can go out to play/watch TV.”

Do you have any tips on positive parenting that you would like to pass on to our readers?

Featured photo credit: Help for Troubled Teenagers/ Leanna Benn via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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