Expert: Too Much ‘Parent Speak’ Can Be Harmful To Kids

CHICAGO (CBS) – “You’re okay.”

“Say thank you.”

“Be careful.”

How many times have you said those things to your kids?

One parenting expert says you shouldn’t be saying that and has advice for what you should be saying instead.

So, what’s the harm in saying “Good job” to your kid?

“Our children want to please us and ultimately you create a people pleaser,” says Jennifer Lehr.

Lehr is the author of “Parent Speak.” She says “good job” can turn children into praise junkies.

Also, she says, the generic phrase doesn’t explain to the child what was so good about what they did.

“We use it to say so many different things. We use it to say, ‘Thank you,’ like if somebody clears the table,” Lehr said.

Lehr, a mother of two, avoids other phrases, like, “You’re OK,” “Say thank you,” “Be careful.” She considers them condescending, controlling and harmful to kids.

For many of us, they’re expressions  we grew up with and say practically every day. But have you ever thought about what you might say instead?”

Lehr has these suggestions:

– Rather than trying to convince kids they’re fine after an injury, ask them if they’re in a lot of pain or whether it’s getting better.

– Instead of advising children to “Say thank you,” remind kids that they may want to do that.

“If they are in the other room, say ‘Do you want to thank so and so before we leave?’ Then you’re supporting them,” Lehr said.

– Have confidence in your child’s confidence instead of constantly saying “be careful.”

“It reminds them that they should fear something instead of explore it,” she said.

It’s also important to note that children learn from their mistakes.

“If you get a little bruise because you fell off the slide, then maybe next time you’ll be a little more careful on your own,” said Dr. Scott Goldstein.

Is “Parent Speak” just another excuse to make parents feel guilty?

“I would say no parent should feel guilty, although every parent feels guilty sometimes,” Goldstein says.

Lehr’s book also tackled discipline, and the time-honored “Time Out.”

She contends children misbehave because of an unmet need, and parents should try to figure out the need, rather than withholding love and attention with a time out.

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