10 Things Parents Should Never Say To Children

A parent of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again. Proverbs 19:19

The things you say, positive or negative, can have a huge effect on your children’s lives, not only as a child, but as a teenager, as an adult and as a parent of their own children.

Not everything of negative impact was meant to be mean-spirited.  Some comments come from well-meaning adults who intend good, not realizing how hurtful their words are.

Matthew 15-11

That being said, I thought I would share a few things that can be very hurtful to not only children, but to adults as well.  Some have been said to me and some have been said to my children.  I have tried not to say any to my children because, as I have been hurt by careless words and taunts as a child, I am extremely sensitive as to what I say to others.  I don’t want anyone to feel as I have felt.

Even hearing things my children throw around in jest can still be a barb from memories buried in my past.

I was born with several congenital defects and one of the more obvious was a birthmark on my nose.   During my early years in school, my parents took me to a plastic surgeon to have the mark removed. Now to be fair, that surgery was over forty years ago, but the surgeon flattened the tip to where my nose resembled a pig’s snout.  For five or six years I would come home in tears because of my new nickname that was now stuck with me……Pig Nose.  Children I did not even know would come up to me and call me that horrible name….. and it hurt.  Before I entered middle school my parents returned me to the surgeon where he fixed that problem but still left my nose slightly crooked, but till then, my schoolmates found a new part of me to taunt.

As I mentioned before, I was raised in a Lancaster County in a rather conservative Church Of The Brethren.   When I was around twelve, I made the decision to join the church which meant I had to put my hair up under a covering.  That was when the words Tillie, fishnet and (soup) strainer came out of my classmates mouths.  Frankly, my covering did resemble a strainer, but it still hurt that they chose to disrespect me this way.  There was a girl at school that was known as a bully to others but one day she called me to her where she asked me about my covering.  Then she shared how her mother used to wear one.  That seemed to soften her heart toward me and it pained me to hear about her current living conditions.

Interestingly enough, four years after I graduated, I received a written apology  from a male classmate, asking for forgiveness for taunting me in school.  He had recently accepted Christ and felt compelled to ask my forgiveness.  I was surprised and overjoyed but could not find a way to reply expressing my forgiveness.  It was not until years later that I found him on Facebook and was able to tell him that he was forgiven.

LetterOf Apology

Children can be cruel…. but so can adults whether they tried to or not.  I have compiled a list of things you should not say to a child because it could really have lasting negative effects.

  1. angry-man-274175_960_720How could you be so stupid?
    Sometimes if a child makes a mistake and possibly breaks something or does badly on a test, often some parents are quick to ask a child why he/she was being stupid.  That child will grow up believing he/she is stupid or that he/she cannot make a mistake.  They may end up feeling they can never measure up.
  2. That’s a dumb idea.  It will never work!
    This often creates a child who starts tasks but never completes them for fear he/she can never succeed.  A child needs encouragement.  They need the support to explore their dreams.  And, who knows, they may lose interest and you won’t have to worry about it.  But don’t stifle their imagination!

  3. Only things said to the child is “Clean Your Room”
    Seriously, if all you can say to your child is an order to do a chore, then you are the loser.  You are missing out on some very awesome kids!  They need more conversation than a charge to do housework.
  4. crying-572342_640You shouldn’t cry.  Be a big girl/boy.
    I got told this a lot as a child.  The only thing it taught me was to bury my feelings and I am here to tell you, that is not healthy!  Keeping your feelings to yourself can lead to problems like depression, heart disease and eating disorders.  And sometimes a girl just needs a good cry to help her feel better.

  5. Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard
    I agree there is a fine line in this that children do need to respect that adults that are talking, but children need to be made to feel they are a contributing member of a household and that includes voicing their opinion.  When the adults make all of the decisions, the child has no voice.  Now, I am not advocating they should rule the house, but they should have input as to where to go on vacation and things like that.
  6. I wish you have never been born
    Words cannot express the horror I feel at these words.  The child who hears these words will grow up feeling worthless and ashamed…. if they even make it that far.

  7. Can’t you ever do anything right?
    This is like Number 1, without the name-calling, and it breeds worthlessness and depression.

  8. kids-1875965_1280You will never amount to anything
    Where would we be today if Thomas Edison or Benjamin Franklin’s parents have told them this lie?  What if the Wright Brothers or Bill Gates would have listened to such rubbish?  Everyone has something important they can contribute to the world.

  9. Why can’t you be more like _____?
    Pitting one child against the other sets both up to fail and it breeds dissension between them even as they mature into adults.  I have witnessed this first-hand, and it made me very angry to see it.

  10. girl-1618530_640You’re getting fat.
    I cannot even begin to tell you how or why this is so wrong.  It is why there are such diseases as bulimia or anorexia.  This is downright dangerous to your child as it affects their health and well-being.  Instead of commenting on weight – theirs or yours, you should instead concentrate on both of you participating in healthy eating.

Children are like a ball of clay and, as they grow, they are being shaped by the touch of the artists’ hands, or, in this case, their parents words.  Exposing a child to these abusive insults will encourage a very negative self-image.

Colossians 3:21 can be a good training tool in learning how to treat your child with respect.  What is interesting is that different Bible versions have diverse ways of interpreting this scripture and they all have something to teach us.


AMPC: Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
CJB: Fathers, don’t irritate your children and make them resentful, or they will become discouraged.
CEV: Parents, don’t be hard on your children. If you are, they might give up.
ERV: Fathers, don’t upset your children. If you are too hard to please, they might want to stop trying.
NIV: Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
NLV: Fathers, do not be so hard on your children that they will give up trying to do what is right.
VOICE: Fathers: don’t infuriate your children, so their hearts won’t harbor resentment and become discouraged.
WEB: Fathers, don’t provoke your children, so that they won’t be discouraged.
WE: Fathers, do not make your children angry. They might stop trying to do right.
WYC: Fathers, do not ye provoke your sons to indignation, that they be not made feeble-hearted.
YLT:the fathers! vex not your children, lest they be discouraged.
I think it is easy to see my point.  God does not want us to treat our children badly.  He wants us to talk to them with respect and dignity.  After all your children are your mission field.



1 thought on “10 Things Parents Should Never Say To Children”

  1. So much wisdom and truth in this post. I’m sorry you suffered as a child. Children can indeed be cruel and so too can adults. Thank God I’ve never said any of these remarks to my kids. They are the future.


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