The days of “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” are long gone.  Yes, a broken bone will heal in time but your words have been proven to have a “Lasting effect” on people for years and sometimes a lifetime.  It’s not just kids on the playground that have to watch how they speak, parents need to take more care and choose their words wisely.

In The Heat of the Moment

Let start this section off honestly.  Kids sometimes get on our nerves and like to try adults patience but that does not give the parents the right to “talk down” to them.  Yes, in the heat of the moment we can say some hurtful things and expect our kids to just be able to get over the problem just because we say so.

Instead of reacting to a situation with “what are you stupid, why would you do that?” try taking a second to compose yourself and ask them if they knew what they were doing was wrong and after they answer, explain to them what was the correct way to handle whatever the situation.  Next, explain to them why they will be punished.

Handling it this way takes out the negativity and will not have the child feeling like a stupid failure or confused as to what is going on.  I have heard kids say that they were stupid and they only feel that way because their parents call them that all the time.  A simple “you’re smarter than that” may have been all that was needed to give the child the push to do better.

The Bad Child

Once again, if you continue to call a kid something they will eventually start believing it and also become it.  I see young mothers and fathers letting their younger children get away with murder.  They laugh when the infant curses or swings at them and will just laugh and say “he is so bad.”  What these parents don’t realize is that their children see this as a way of getting attention (positive and negative) and will continue to do the things that get a reaction from them.

Fast forward a couple years and now the child is cursing at them in the store in front of a bunch of people, but now the parent doesn’t think it is so cute.  Now the parent will go to the other extreme and are no longer laughing but mad and calling them bad and/or popping them.  Remember you already ingrained in them that this behavior was a way to get attention but now the child is confused because you are now angry at what use to make you laugh.  Your lack of disciplining inappropriate behavior from the beginning now pushes you to the other extreme, which will also have a rippling effect on the way your child acts.

You’re still calling them bad but now they get in trouble for their actions which is not entirely their fault.  It is because of the parent’s words, reaction, appearance of acceptance and the child’s non acceptable behavior is having a “Lasting Effect” that has the child growing up thinking that they are in fact bad.  I wonder how things would have turned out with this same child if you expressed disappointment in their action from the beginning instead of showing acceptance and then anger later.

You need to go on a diet

Now let me start off by saying that I cannot stand seeing an overweight 6 yr. old scarfing down a big mac, fries and soda.  But that is not their fault, it is their parents fault.  What makes this even worst is when the parent continues to call the child fat or is constantly telling the kid that they need to go on a diet.  The child is now getting picked on in school and this is all due to the actions of the parents and the unhealthy choices that were made for the child.

Some parents don’t take into account that their actions and words will have a “Lasting Effect” on their child or that they may grow up with an eating disorder, health challenges or just continue to get bigger because that is all they know.  What if the parents instilled good eating habits from early on and had the child eating mostly healthy food when they were younger?

Parents, your words and actions have a “Lasting Effect” on your children which means that you have to find positive ways to reprimand them.  You can’t feed a child chicken nuggets and burgers every day and then one day show up with a salad.  Parents please model and encourage the behavior that you want from your children early on.  Instill in them consequences for their actions and healthy eating habits and other things that will have a positive effect on their attitude and health.  I know each child is different and some can shrug off the negativity and still continue to do what is right.

But, are you willing to take that chance with your child?

Author:  B.A.M


  1. I appreciate your focus on desirable behavior in children, rather than criticizing unwanted behavior. It is so true that we often think only of our frustration at the moment and not the future consequences of how we handle our children’s behavior and what we teach them. As far as nutrition is concerned, of course I agree with you and find it terribly sad that half the children in the US are on food stamps and that this statistic is much higher in minorities.

    • Michele, yes when it comes to nutrition a lot of minority children have bad. Which leads to some problems in the future. The laying effect happens in many areas of childhood. Hopefully we can make them positive effects. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Having raised two sons, I would say that your observations are spot on. As parents we have to be the adults and control our own responses. There are times when it seems that our children are pushing all our buttons— on purpose, but we have tremendous power, and therefore, a tremendous responsibility, to keep it together and guide them in a positive fashion. I can’t claim that I always succeeded and it’s likely that we all make mistakes as parents, but half the battle is recognizing the problem so we can try to be mindful in our reactions.

  3. I agree. Parents have to model the appropriate behavior and show respect to their little ones. Additionally, if the parent is married, showing respect and treating your spouse well is so important. Mean words can be everlasting and definitely can hurt a child. Being able to say “I’m sorry” if you lose your temper and say something you don’t mean sets a great example.

    • Laurie, you are correct when you say showing respect to your spouse is important. I wanted to put that and some other things in this article but then it would have turned into a small novel. Thanks for the great comment

  4. I have two children and never used words to define them like, stupid, idiot, etc. I would explain that what they did was unacceptable and why. As parents we need to teach our children and guide them until adulthood. When you are angry and say something that attacks the child and not the action, years later that child will come back say, why try to do anything right you think I am stupid anyway.

  5. Agree with what you say. Honestly believe a lot of people all over the world are not fit to be parents. The way they bring up their kids can cause emotional and psychological problems, and not to forget, obesity. The latter used to be a US phenomena but has spread all over the world thanks to junk food.

    • I say that all the time.. a lot of people should not be parents and it is those parents who are causing damage in their kids that may not show signs for years to come

  6. I think it’s best to expect good behavior and elicit it, rather than focus on bad behavior and ways to try to control it. The psychology of reward works when the child sees it is in their best interest to cooperate, which teaches a valuable lesson for them to rely on in later years. This is the method I used, and I never once had to use or threaten a spanking.

    Sure, in the heat of the moment, it can be frustrating. It is precisely at that moment we must remember that children do not have the capacity, or the maturity to be as wise as we expect. We do best to encourage them.

    Kind Regards,

  7. I always try to ensure that we never criticise our child (4yrs) with words such as you are stupid etc. If I need to point it out, I will always try to make the action the problem not the child. We are also very big on instilling proper understanding of nutrition and how it makes your body strong etc. For a boy strength is very important.
    I think often the parents need to be educated. I am by no means perfect, but I do try to read up on as much as I can to ensure we can provide the best support for our son. We will have wins and failures, but hopefully by seeking out advice from others, we will have more wins.

    • There will definitely be wins and failures and like you said hopefully we will have more wins. Thanks for the great comment.

  8. I used to teach about self-fulfilling prophecies when I did a unit on Greek theater with my students. The things we hear over and over again become ingrained in our psyches. Much of my fiction and creative nonfiction explores how that notion applies to my own life.

    • self-fulfilling or parent fulfilling prophecies are a real thing and children can not help but to have it ingrained in their psyches. That is why we have to watch what we say and how we say it to our kids.

  9. Excellent post. The adage “what we think about, we bring about” comes to mind. We have the opportunity, as parents, to either create endless opportunity for our children, or to stifle their growth, through our words and actions. We need to be encouraging our children, not calling them fat or stupid. We do need to set boundaries and consequences for actions. We do them a disservice when we don’t do that. Everything in life has a consequence, be it good or bad. When we fail to teach our children that when they are young, we are setting them up for failure later on.
    Thanks again for a great post.

    • If you’re constant being called stupid or fat what else are you going to think about. Then if that’s all your thinking about what will you bring about.. thank you again for another great comment.

  10. Great stuff! I had a second cousin who suffered from this “lasting effect”. He was extremely rowdy as a little kid, and everyone in the family used to call him “mischievous”, “a trouble-maker”, “a Devil”. And as time went by, as you can expect, he grew into that role.

    Finally it was found that he had ADHD at the age of about 10. He’s started getting the appropriate understanding, and attention now, and he’s doing much better. But the point isn’t that they spoke down to a kid who had ADHD, it is that what if the kid had not had ADHD. Then they would never have changed their attitude, and he would have just kept growing into this role into which he was condemned.


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