Most of these messages have been handed down for many generations. They get repeated without even stopping to think what is being said and how it is being received.
Let's take a look at just a few to get an idea.
This message tells a child that what they are aware of about someone isn't of value just because it may not sound nice. It is important to convey this message not as a general statement but how it applies to a situation. If a child is calling another child a name or saying things to be hurtful, it is more beneficial to find out what is at the root of wanting to hurt someone else. A child may also be aware that someone is doing things that need to be brought to attention and they need to be free to express that without having to worry about being nice or not. We can teach and guide our children how to speak to one another, and also be able to express thoughts, feelings or awareness about each other. Consider a child is being picked on, or asked to do something they don't want to do- this is not the time for them to have to only say something nice, if what they need to say is go away, or leave me alone. The issue with statements like these is that they are blanket statements that force the child to have to decide what is nice and what isn't.
Work first, play later.
This puts a lot of emphasis on work, and creates a negative connection with work. It also doesn't honor what is needed in the moment. Sometimes, work gets done easier if there has been play time. It also sets one up for making play a reward that needs to be earned, rather than a choice and a value for living a full and meaningful life. Asking a child what would work best for them, to get their chores or homework done first or to have some playtime first, can empower a child to begin to experience making choices for themselves. The adult can then follow up with questions about how their choice worked or didn't work. It may work one day, but something else may be required at another time. Giving kids the freedom to know that they can make different choices is also empowering. This also applies to many adults too.
Don't speak unless spoken to. and Children should be seen and not heard.
Both of these messages convey to the child that what they have to say doesn't matter and that it isn't okay to speak what is on your mind. It is possible to let a child know that it isn't okay to interrupt, and that you are interested in what they have to say and will gladly listen when you are available. There are times and situations where children can be a disruption and in these situations, it is best to make other arrangements for the kids and to let them know that this will be just adult time. Interacting with your child when they speak, being present with them and showing them that what they say does matter, will empower them to speak up for themselves and not feel intimidated by others.
These are just a few of the darndest things that adults and parents say to kids. I am sure you can think of some and maybe have had some even come from your lips. The challenge is to begin to question what you say and what effects it may have on your child. What if we can begin to introduce kids to powerful messages that will be handed down for many generations to come that will replace these older sayings?
To learn some additional ways to respond to other messages that parents say, tune in to Be You Parenting Radio Show where Annie Chin Taylor is our guest and shares some valuable insights and questions that you can use to replace those darndest things.