Ten Things We Should Never Say To Kids.

In my Internet travels this week, I came across the above title, which I just had to investigate further. This is actually the name of an e-book written by Jim Hancock, which is currently free to download from “the tiny company called me” website .

For those of you who are not familiar an e-book, it is the digital media equivalent to the traditional printed book. It can be read on your PC or as in this case can be printed out from a PDF file if desired. This e-book in question is down loadable in chapters, beginning with the introduction and then a separate chapter for each thing, that as parents we should never say to our kids. They are as follows:

THING 01: Do You Have Your Jacket-Homework-Gym-Bag-Back-Pack-Ticket-Keys?

THING 02: What Were You Thinking!

THING 03: Because I Said So.

THING 04: You Are Such a Pretty Little Thing.

THING 05: I’m Proud of You!

THING 06: You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To.

THING 07: Let Me Tell You What Happened Here.

THING 08: That’s Not How You Do It.

THING 09: Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around

THING 10: I Give Up.

The chapters are on generally over 20 pages and I have yet to read all of them. I went first to the ones which I have to admit, that I do sometimes say to my kids:

THING 04: You Are Such a Pretty Little Thing.
I am not sure if it is because she is the only girl out my four children, or if it is because of her wild curly hair, but I do have a tendency to tell Possum how gorgeous she is quite often. (I think this falls pretty much into the same as category as pretty.) As soon as I read this headline comment in the chapter it, clicked to me as to why I should not say this:

“Thoughtful affirmation is always better than empty praise.”

For a long time I have adhered to the above philosophy, but for some reason, I had not translated it across to me commenting in general on how I think she looks. Instead of saying you look gorgeous, I could tell her something along the lines of “I like the outfit you’ve put together.” Reprogramming myself always takes some time, but I will make a concerted effort to drop this phrase. I do not want Possum to associate her worth to me just on how she looks.

NB. I do also tell the other kids that they are gorgeous, but probably just say it a little more to Possum.

THING 05: I’m Proud of You!
I say it to them, because I am very proud of all of them, but after having a read of this chapter and reflecting on my own feelings on being told this, I can understand why it may not be the most helpful thing to say to a child. Jim Hancock sums it up succinctly by saying:

“I don’t think we should ever give children the impression that making us proud is the point of their lives.”

He follows this with a quote from the poet e.e. cummings:

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

I aim to read more of the chapters over the next couple of weeks. There is some very thought provoking comments within the chapters and if you have ever wondered about what impact you may be leaving on your child, I would encourage you to visit “the tiny company called me” website and have a look at what Jim Hancock has written.

Coming across information like this reminds me that parenting is not unlike a journey. For me this is a point to refuel with some new information and try a new path.