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Parents share most psychologically damaging things you can say to a child

Mums and dads have taken to the internet to share some of the most psychologically damaging things you can say to a child which will have repercussions later in their life

Your words can have lasting impact (stock photo)

It’s no secret that children can be incredibly frustrating and at times you might want to snap at them and make cruel comments.

But it’s worth thinking twice before something slips out that you might end up regretting for the rest of your life.

A number of parents have taken to the Q&A website Quora to share some of the most psychologically damaging things their own mums and dads said to them when they were younger.

Some of the experiences are genuinely worrying, while others are throwaway comments that many of us might be guilty of saying without even thinking.

One user named Stephanie Unson listed some of the troubling phrases her parents said when she was growing up that had a major impact on her, including “stop being so sensitive”, “you’ll understand when you have kids one day” and “don’t be a burden?” – which she claims was said to her before she was sent off on activities.

She went on to share that whenever she asked for help, her mum would respond with “NOW what did you do?”



Don’t belittle your kids (stock photo)
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Similarly, Luke Meier, a single father-of-three, argued that any words which “completely demean his or her efforts and talents” are high on the list of things you shouldn’t say to children, “especially if uttered while the child is trying to impress you or receive praise.”

He went on to share an example, explaining how if a child is learning to play the violin and a parent constantly tells them to “shut that thing off” so they can watch TV, the kid will never forget that.

The dad continues: “The most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child is a lie that they find out later was not true. If this pattern repeats enough times, it will be very psychologically damaging.”

While David Hunter believes it’s not actually about the words you say, it’s how you say it that matters.

“Children are very sensitive to inflection and mood in parental delivery. Probably more so than they are sensitive to content,” he said.

And Karl Ngantcha added that saying nothing at all is the most psychologically damaging thing you can do to a child.

“By nothing I mean not talking, communicating or interacting with your child at all. At as young as few months, children depend on daily interaction with their mother or father.”







Many parents also agreed that you should never belittle your child or make fun of their pain, no matter how trivial it might seem to you.

While others warned not to compare your child directly to their siblings or friends and not to bring up their personal failures in front of relatives, so as not to embarrass the child.

A final point from Ellen Perkins stressed the “number one most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child” which was not to say “I don’t love you” or “you were a mistake”.

She added: “But even more importantly, whatever words are used or implied through a parent’s behaviour, it is the feeling of being unloved that does the damage.”

Do you have any comments to add? Let us know below.


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