10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Teenage Son


I’m always giving you parenting advice. Today, 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Teenage Son.

10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Teenage Son

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.”

Oh really?

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!”

Wait, what?

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.

Great job!

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

about it.

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

look at.

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?

Do you?

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.

“You’re okay.”

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

a diet.”

Alright, the child tunes into that and they

notice it.

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

thinking, right?

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,


Be careful.”

Well, okay.

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

you, guys.

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

your kids.

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.

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