In the heat of an argument, especially with a child or teenager, it's easy to forget there are certain words or phrases we just shouldn't scream at them. You may not remember what you said in the moment, but they will, and the situation could come back to haunt you.
Finding the right way to express your frustrations or anger in the moment may have you fishing around for the right words, but according to Psychology Today, the following three phrases should never be said. Instead, there are three more appropriate alternatives to address your kids' behavior head-on — without causing your child to feel shame, fear, or guilt.
1. “You're making me crazy!”
Instead of using guilt to motivate a child, say this: “I don't like that behavior.” Be sure to tell them why a behavior is not OK and explain the steps to change it. Help your child understand what he or she is doing to “drive you crazy,” but don't let them feel entirely responsible for your mental or emotional state.
2. “What's wrong with you?”
This can cause a child to be ashamed of themselves, and as they grow up, they might doubt their own abilities or thoughts. Instead of using shame-inducing phrases, address the problem directly with “I don't like it when you ___.” This will help them understand how to change their behavior.
3. “You'd better ___ or else!”
This phrase uses fear to ask a child to change, and it teaches them to get what they want through aggression or intimidation. A better alternative to say is “When you ___, I feel ___.” This gives your child a chance to empathize with you and change his or her behavior.