What you tell your kids, and what they actually hear!

We often see and read articles on how to interpret a child’s behaviour. The ‘camera’ is always facing the child. If you shift the axis and turn the camera around, the truth takes on a whole different hue. Have you ever thought about how children interpret our reactions and behaviours? Take a look at this list and see if you are saying these and ever expected their brains to process it in this way.

1. You say: “Here, I’ll do it”

They think: “Mom/dad don’t like the way I do it”

Are there times you get frustrated and prefer to finish something your child is unable to do? When you take over the activity, your child interprets it differently.

The feeling of lack of accomplishment stays with the child and makes him/her want to either rush through it next time or not attempt the activity altogether.

Try: “Let’s do it together.”

2. You say: “Wait for your turn”

They think: “I’ll never get a chance”

You are waiting by the park swings and suddenly your toddler throws a fit saying he wants to ride right away. He is unmanageable and you decide to just walk away from the queue with a grin for other parents.

Toddlers often think the world revolves around them. The prospect of delayed fulfilment of their desires sounds like denial to them. Try distracting them.

Try: “I love that sound you made.. can you do that again?”

 3. You say: “I am proud of you”

They think: “I did something to make mom/dad like of me”

 This happens to the best of us. We compliment a child for achieving well, doing the right thing. But forget to tell them that this accomplishment was achieved by them and for them. The highlight for such conversations should be the work they put in rather than the accomplishment by itself.

Try: “You must have worked so hard for it!”

4. You say: “I am so disappointed in you!”

They think: “Mom/dad will never love me again”

This can be very scary for a child. Their own esteem rests heavily on what parents think of them and when that falls, the whole house of cards comes crashing down. Try not to hurt a child by giving these ‘ultimatum’ sounding words.

All problems are solvable and we need to arrive at the nub of the issue to reason this out. This is the message every parent should try to send out.

Try: “I am surprised and didn’t see this coming.”

5. “Absolutely terrible. The worst. This is the pits.”

They think: “I am out of my depth. Let mom/dad handle the situation”

Tautology of the worst kind. Repeating the same words again and again will do the opposite of instilling the depth/gravity of any situation. Instead the child may feel like this is something parents have faced before and can solve yet again.

Encourage the child to participate in the problem solving process. Especially if he/she are responsible for it in the first place it is better to bring them in calmly.

Try: “Let’s talk about this tragedy”

6. You say: “I’ll tell you where babies come from when you grow up”

They think: “She won’t tell me. I have got it find out by myself.”

Children are naturally curious about their sexual organs. They tend to be curious about others too. Not answering these natural queries may do more harm than good.

Don't encourage your child to seek such information from outside. Instead have an open attitude at home where a child can ask questions and expect honest answers easily. 

Try: "Ok. What do you want to know?"