5 Negative Phrases Children Often Say and Ought Not To
Guiding our children to develop positive self-talk is one of the major tasks of parenting. Some children are more optimistic, while others are naturally more self-critical. Either way, negative phrases is something that children struggle with from time to time. A lot of the time, children mirror what we do and say. Thus, we as adults, be it parents, caregivers or educators, need to be more conscious of what we say and work towards creating a positive, encouraging environment. Here are 5 phrases we can attempt to eradicate from our children’s vocabulary.
1. All-or-nothing phrases
“I will never be able to swim”
“I always mess my kicks”
“Nothing ever goes my way”
Such phrases are self-defeating, and children need to learn to be more realistic with their thoughts and their words.
Help your child see a bigger picture and challenge these phrases! One way to reply to such phrases is to help them recall a time when they manage to attain something. For example, during my swimming lessons, at times I hear children say, “I will never be able to swim”, and in order to encourage them, I would reply, “Remember the time you manage to kick in the water/dip your face in? That was a big improvement from just a few months ago! All of your hard work and practice has already paid off, so what do you think might happen if you keep practicing?”
2. Blaming phrases
“He made me fall into the water”
“It’s all my fault”
It is always easier and faster to blame others for our own behaviour and mistakes. However, it is important that children learn that they alone hold power over their actions, and must be responsible for their choices.
Self-blame can quickly lead one to spiral into negativity, causing children to be stuck rather than to seek for solutions. Remind and challenge your children that we are in charge of our own actions, and we should always strive to work towards solutions as this is more productive than laying blame.
3. Should phrases
“I should have paddled harder”
These statements often cause anxiety as they imply that the child has complete child of every situation – another example of a self-defeating phrase. When kids put impractical demands on themselves, they set themselves up for failure.
Reframe such statements with more positive ones, such as “You did the best you could, and that’s good enough for today!”
4. Labeling phrases
Negative speaking and thinking of such can lead of anxiety and mood swings. Refute these negative labelling by pointing your child’s positive qualities. Ask them to state their good characteristics and compliment them.
We usually end with “don’t say that”, but by guiding children to practice positive thinking and speaking, we equip them with a skill they will need for a lifetime.
5. “I can’t” phrases
“I can’t” is one of the most common phrases heard during swim class. Saying such phrases often could be a sign of low self-esteem. Transform “I can’t” into “I can try”. Knowing that they are able to try allow children to visualise their goals. Help your child list actionable steps to help them achieve their goals. Be specific in the actions they are required to do: “Try splashing water onto your face without wiping it off”.
Most of these phrases are based on distorted thoughts that may be irrational or exaggerated, due to what the children have experienced from their surroundings. We can help our children to remove these negative phrases and teach them to reframe their minds by being realistic and looking for the positive in themselves and in others!