Some comments can drive parents crazy. See if you’re guilty of saying these 4 things you shouldn’t say about other people’s children.
As parents, we get a ton of comments from others, whether loved ones or strangers, about our kids.
Some of these we can laugh it off, such as when we can’t help but agree. Others though need to be addressed, perhaps in defense of our kids or for thoughtlessness. The rest just drive us crazy.
4 things you shouldn’t say about other people’s children
In most cases, people don’t say these comments with hurtful intentions, but rather as plain observations. Still, many of these comments can throw any parent off, either as offensive or flat out wrong.
See if you’ve heard these comments before that should probably have been left unsaid.
1. Pointing out how different a child’s skin color is
One of my kids has darker skin than either of his brothers or parents. Because of that, I hear a lot of comments about his skin color.
No one is implying he sticks out, but why bring it up in the first place? I’m pretty sure he has no understanding of skin color or that he looks different from his brothers. But hearing how dark he is over and over throughout the years might make him feel like he doesn’t belong.
In many families, one sibling doesn’t look like the others. Maybe it’s skin color, or height, or hair color, or even resemblance. If a child’s feature stands out, don’t focus so much on it. I don’t want my kids not hear how different they are, especially for something they can’t change.
2. Calling a child chubby
Maybe in the beginning, calling a baby chubby is acceptable. It’s cute, I get it. And in many cases, we want our babies to be able to gain weight, especially during those newborn days. I remember feeling scared I wouldn’t be able to take one of my twins home from the hospital because he had been born underweight.
So yes, fat is good.
But at a certain point, the fat talk has to stop. Don’t tease other people’s children about their weight. Avoid comments about how carrying her is a serious arm workout or that she’s bigger than her siblings. A five-year-old girl will notice that everyone seems to point out how fat she is, even if said in jest or love.
3. Remarking on a child’s development and milestones
One of my twins was boisterous and active as a baby. He rolled over, crawled, and walked on target.
Meanwhile, his twin brother liked to lie down… a lot. On nearly every milestone, especially physical ones, he trailed his brother by a long shot. And so I heard comments about him being lazy.
Even with innocent intentions, calling a child lazy is not a good message to send. Can a baby even be lazy? Babies develop at their own paces and learn in different ways. Not crawling as fast as his brother isn’t laziness, but rather a difference in growth and interest.
And imagine growing up hearing you’re lazy, even as a joke—not exactly the trait you’d be proud of.
Pointing out a child’s milestones, especially if they’re delayed, will make any parent defensive, worried and panicked. Avoid comparing her child to others, or ask why her child hasn’t hit certain milestones yet. He eventually will—at his own pace.
4. Saying a child isn’t friendly or social
We value extroverts, especially with kids. We love those who can put on a show on demand. The ones who greet every adult with a smile and an outstretched hug. The kids who will be the first to strike a conversation with others and isn’t shy about speaking up.
Meanwhile, “shy” kids get a bad rap. These kids cling onto their parents for dear life at social gatherings. They may even cry or want only mom or dad to carry them. They’re not comfortable with strangers, much less feel like smiling at them.
Kids need social skills, for sure, and when they’re not meeting social milestones, then yes, something could be wrong.
But for most children, saying they’re not friendly or unsocial is just plain wrong. These kids are displaying stranger anxiety and strong attachments to their parents, as they should.
It’s more common for a child to be “shy” than she is to be vocal and outgoing. Saying a child isn’t friendly or social makes her feel isolated and strange when most kids actually behave this way.
And finally, “shyness” and introversion have their own benefits as well. These are the children who, thanks to their listening skills and empathy, tend to have many friends. Their attachment to their parents assure a strong parent-child relationship. And they often grow up to be the big thinkers and unexpected leaders in the world.
These kids aren’t antisocial at all, but rather wary of new situations. Given enough time and space, they’ll warm up to their environments and feel at ease in social gatherings. But pointing out their shyness as if it’s a terrible trait isn’t going to get them there.
People say these comments in jest and even with affection and love. But over time, they send the wrong message, especially to children. Kids can’t tell they’re different from others or that these differences should even matter. Hearing these comments can create internal dialogue that may not be healthy. These statements also overlook normal and healthy child development and behavior.
So if you see a shy, chubby child who looks different and isn’t walking yet… hold your tongue. Neither she nor her parents need to hear you say anything.
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Get more parenting tips:
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Your turn: What comments have other people said about your kids that drove you crazy? Have you found yourself saying these four things? Let me know in the comments!
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