I’m always giving you parenting advice. Today, 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Teenage Son.
This was an interesting article and as a psychologist, it caught my attention.
Now hopefully, you’re already aware of the obvious ones, okay.
Like saying “Oh, she’s the cute one.”
Be careful with that one, right.
Or “He’s the smart one.” or “she’s the athletic one.”
Putting these labels on our kids doesn’t help.
Just wait till your father gets home.
Remember that one?
Yeah, not particularly helpful.
Or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
These are obvious.
We’re not going to go there today.
This particular article triggered some thinking for me and I wanted to share with you a few psychological insights into what the article mentions.
So the first one is, “Great job!”
You’re not supposed to say that to our kids?
We all say that, right?
There’s a good point behind this.
We don’t want to create a scenario where out
children are dependent on our own approval
or affirmation for what it is that they are
doing and there’s nothing wrong with saying
“Great job” to your kid.
What if you were to be a little more specific?
So when your child comes home from school
and has a good grade on their report card.
As opposed to something like, instead try
“I noticed that you got an A in English, how
do you feel about that?”
So we’re turning it back to them, inviting
them to explore their feelings about their
performances instead of just declaring something
So it’s not something that’s completely destructive,
none of these are really but there are little
subtle things that I think are helpful to
Here’s the second one.
“Practice makes perfect.”
You ever heard that from your parents when
you were learning how to play the piano or
learning a new skill?
Now that’s a common phrase, not particularly
helpful to say to our kids.
Because they’re already working hard on things
and they never get it perfect, do they?
Does practice really make perfect?
You know, it’s probably more accurate to say practice makes more permanent because whatever we practice we get better at but it’s not necessarily adaptive.
You could practice being in a negative mood
for example and you’re going to get better
in a negative mood so instead, what if we
were just talking to our kids in a way that
affirms their efforts and helps them to understand
the more I work on something, the better I’m
likely to get at it.
And let’s just leave the perfection standard
out of it.
I think that’s the thing that spoils it.
Let’s look at another one.
Almost in an anxious way.
You know, sometimes if your kid stumbles and
gets in their knee or falls down and they’re
crying, it’s our natural tendency as parent
to comfort them, right?
And there’s nothing wrong with that but telling
them you’re okay, sometimes triggers a little
thought process in our kid’s mind that “Oh,
well shouldn’t I be?
Is there some reason why you’re settled?”
You know what, I saw this most flagrantly
when I was doing child custody evaluations
and I kid you not, I saw an exchange where
the mother in this case was sending the child
to go over to the father’s house for a weekend
I think it was, may have only been an evening.
But as she was preparing the child to leave,
she kept saying “You’re okay.
You’re going to be okay.
It’s going to be alright.
You’re going to be safe.”
The kid is going nuts because of mom’s anxiety.
Do you see this?
So instead of saying you’re okay, notice that
when your child is hurt, yeah, of course,
they’re okay, you know that but throwing that in their face right in the moment probably isn’t the most helpful thing.
What if you were to just comfort them and
show some empathy?
Where as you’re holding them and say, “Oh,
you skinned your knee, that hurts, doesn’t it?”
Yeah, it hurts.
Of course it hurts.
So again, not a really destructive word we
say, it’s something that we commonly do.
Just think about some of the implications.
Let’s go to the next one.
Number four, “Hurry up.”
Alright, this is kind of obvious because of
the pressure that it creates.
What if instead you were to join your child
in the process of getting ready to go somewhere?
Let’s just hurry.
You see how that feels a little bit different?
And we’re going to phrase it in a positive
Here’s number five.
“I’m on a diet.”
Okay, parents sometimes allow their own issues
to bubble over and affect their children that
don’t even realize that they’re doing it.
If mom or dad is so self conscious about their
appearance or their weight or whatever they’re
constantly “Oh, this dress makes me look fat.”
or “I just can’t okay basketball like I used
to because I’m so overweight.” or “I’m on
Alright, the child tunes into that and they
Again, let’s phrase this in terms of what
it is that we want and bring out the positive
aspects of it, something like “Let’s eat healthy
so that we’ll have energy and we’ll feel good.”
You can address the same things without bringing
your own pathology into it.
That stings a little sometimes.
Let’s go on to number six.
“We can’t afford that.”
Now, I’m a big advocate for teaching kids
about finances and how to live within their
When we say we can’t afford that and it’s
something that the child wants, it creates
a whole different feel for that child than
if you were to say “You know what, sweetie,
that would be a really neat thing to get and
we are saving up right now for this other
thing that we really want.”
Maybe it’s a family vacation, maybe it’s groceries,
It can be that basic sometimes.
But instead, redirecting them from “Oh, you
can’t have that because we can’t afford it.”
to “We’re saving our money for this thing.”
Which teaches a real principle.
You can’t spend it on this and that and that’s
going to help them some things about finance
but here’s an even more powerful way.
What if we were to change “We can’t afford
We can’t do it.
We don’t have time for it.”
to “How could we afford that?”
Imagine yourself having that conversation
with your teenager for example.
Well, that looks really interesting.
How do you think we could afford that?
Now we’re inviting the mind to do a little
Instead of just resisting.
Let’s go to the next one.
Number seven, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Alright, that’s some clear rationality behind
this, because we want to keep our kids safe.
What if instead we were to help them to be
more discerning about who to talk to?
Okay, what if your child gets lost sometime
and you’re not around or anyone else they
know, that means everyone is a stranger.
If they’ve got it in their mind don’t talk
to strangers, then they’re on their own, aren’t
00:08:01,800 –> 00:08:09,270
What if we were to teach them to look for
a grandma or mother with children or look
for a store person that’s wearing the uniform
or for a first responder, you know, a police.
There are people in our community that can
be helpful and if we teach our children to
be more discerning, we might be able to lead
them into better direction instead of just
don’t talk to strangers.
Here’s number eight, “Be careful.”
Now what is this about typically?
Typically it’s about the anxiety of the parent.
The example in the article had to do with
being on the monkey bars in the playground.
The child’s up there and they’re doing some
acrobatic routine, right?
And mom is nervous and so mom’s like “Oh,
That might distract the child and get their
focus off of what it is they’re doing.
The suggestion in the article I thought was
Go over closer to the child and spot them
in case there’s an incident and then after
the fact, you might talk about how to use
discretion in judgement after the activities
that they choose.
I thought that was an interesting one.
Here’s another one.
“No dessert unless you finish your dinner.”
This falls into a category for me about positivity
and negativity which will totally surprise
Cause I’m a positivity shrink right?
What if instead of saying “No dessert” we
say “You can have dessert after your dinner’s
or “We all eat dessert once dinner is finished.”
okay, see, frame it in a positive way just
makes all the difference.
Here’s one more from the article.
“Let me help.”
Alright, now as well as intention as that
is, a lot of times our kids are working on
something that they don’t have the same level
of skill and dexterity that we do so they’re
stacking something up for example or they’re
doing a puzzle and we want to jump in “Well,
let me help you with that.”
Just before they were about to get it.
Give them some time, let them develop their
skills and back off sometimes.
It was interesting to go through this list
and see some of the things that they’re saying
that you should never say to your kids but
cause they’re things that we always say, right?
A little bit of thought about adjustments,
minor adjustments and along those lines, you
know, if you’re flying an airplane for example
and you get just one degree off, just one
degree off course, after 500 miles, you’re
way off course so you make a course correction
and that’s what we’re talking about here.
These are not way off, these things that I
read to you today, things to never say to
Well, what if we make little course corrections
in the things that we commonly say to our
Could that create some better outcomes?
I think it might.
Did that list surprise you too? It did me.