3 Things To Stop Saying to Your Kids (And What To Say Instead)

peaceful discipline

Have you ever found yourself repeating insulting, belittling, or nonsensical things that were said to you as a child? What about walking away from a frustrating situation with your kids and shaking your head as you realize that you might just be your mother after all? This happens to me about once a week, and there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like a hypocrite.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on a mission to remove nonsensical and unfair reprimands from my lexicon, but it’s been hard. I’ve finally identified, and replaced, three of my worst “offenders”, and I can definitely see the difference in Little B’s attitude and behavior as well as my own. Is it time to mix up your family slogan arsenal? If so, take a look at the three we’ve been working on, and let me know what you’re working on too!

1. “Because I said so.”

 

Try this instead:

“I know you may not fully understand, but it’s important that you do/do not _____ because  ____.”

Why:

Give your child the full, logical explanation for why you’re requesting that they do (or do not do) this specific act. Is it because it’s unsafe? Does it make you personally uncomfortable? Does it violate the belief system your family upholds in your home? Explain that and open up a dialogue on an issue; creating understanding now eliminates the “why?” in the future.

Many parents believe that allowing children to question their decisions is allowing disrespect. However, we have to keep in mind that we’re not raising our children to be children in eighteen years. We’re raising them to be adults, and asking questions + seeking to understand is a basic foundation of logical, independent thought.

2. “Shh… The adults are talking..”

Try this instead:

“Please don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking. You’ll have a chance to give us your opinion, but it’s rude to treat someone else like their voice is not as important as yours.”

Why:

By plainly stating that adult communication (and thought) have higher credibility and priority than that of your child, you’re not only making them feel excluded but also undermined and unimportant. This can leave lasting effects on their self confidence and the way they think about their own opinions and beliefs down the road.

Instead, explain that their voice and opinion is valuable to you, but that they need to find an appropriate time to interject or politely interrupt. This will not only teach them that their voice counts for something but will also reinforce the concept that every voice is important. A lesson in self confidence and respect? Don’t mind if I do.

3. “My house, my rules.”

Try this instead:

Absolutely anything else. Seriously, I’m begging you.
Personally, I go with “This is everybody’s house, not just yours, and we all deserve to feel safe, comfortable, and respected in our house, don’t we?”

Why:

huge part of developing an open line of communication with your children is trust. And despite the fact that you pay the bills, the family home is the only home that your children have ever known. When you take away the sense of security that comes with the idea of “home” by removing the ownership they have of it, children often find it hard to trust. Focus on building a family home with family rules and foster respect through communication, not authoritarianism.

If you approach it from the angle of mutual respect to all parties involved, they begin to learn that while they are important, they are not always the most important thing in the room.

 

So far, these little changes have been working absolute wonders in our house. We’re all happier, nobody feels disrespected, and Little B and I have been having an ongoing dialogue about respect.

I’d love to hear about how these changes have impacted your house! Do you do something completely different? How do you go about parenting without disrespecting your child? What other phrases should be added to this list? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

 

19 Comments
  1. I like how instead of saying because I said so, you suggest explaining it to them so there’s a legit reason behind why you are saying what you are.

  2. Absolutely love this post! It is very hard not to repeat to our children then things we heard as a child. I have also been trying to remove phrases like this out of our vocabulary. The best benefit I have seen is that my kids respond better.

  3. This is an eye-opener. I find that I always tell my kids not to interrupt me when I’m having a conversation with their seniors. I take this as a challenge. I got some homework to do 🙂

  4. Such good points! My sons still little but I try to be aware of what I’m saying and why. My mom told me she used to say no to me and I’d tantrum but if she gave me a reason why I would usually listen.

  5. These are excellent ideas and suggestions. The only one that may have trouble is the first one…after several rounds of explaining why, and the child continues to ask why…there sometimes comes a time to say you have explained but now it is important to do it because you said so AND you have explained why. Each person has to decide how many WHY on the same topic you think it is good to answer.

  6. “Because I said so” is a common sentiment I’ve caught myself saying and have tried to stop. It used to drive me nuts as a kid when my mom would say that. Now I try to catch myself and explain why it is what it is, which stops most of the follow-up complaints before they start!

  7. I’m guilty of the I said so rule. I try to remember to explain myself. It actually make more of a difference in the long rung. That way kids understand why and not just that you said no.

  8. I love the first one! Just tell your kids the real reason and maybe they will learn something! I don’t think it is disrespectful when children question things…it is a way to learn!

  9. I am actually so glad I got this article to comment on because I read it earlier when I liked, or shared.. something of that nature. Anyways! This is so true and I completely agree that when you stop saying theses things it makes everything better. Your child isn’t belittled and you are able to explain to them why they are doing something but not let them argue with you. Great read!

  10. I am not sure I could love this post anymore. It is incredibly on point with what I want to be teaching my child. What an incredible share. Thank you.

  11. #3 I say “As a member of this house you will follow the rules.” #2 “Please don’t interrupt. We all must wait our turn.” #1 Totally depends on the situation and time limits. If we’re out in public and I tell them to come closer to me, I certainly won’t take the time to explain it to them. “Because I said so” lets them know it’s important to do that right now and we will discuss it later. In other instances, there is more time to explain. We really try not to say things just because that’s what every parent before us has said (except my mom – she really didn’t say any of these). Although Daddy did say for the 1st time the other day “I will turn this car around” and then we started cracking up. It can be tricky, but we believe in treating them as a human being, while still being parents. Unfortunately, many take this too far in either direction. I think it’s great that you felt there was a flaw in something your mother did, and chose to break the cycle. My husband says everything good he does is because he does the opposite his parents did. Of course, they did a lot wrong, but that’s another story!

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