Telling upset children not to cry, that they are okay, and that there is nothing to be afraid of can seem like calming words to parents.
But now a psychologist has revealed that such phrases may actually be doing young people more harm than good.
In addition to leaving children feeling invalidated, the aforementioned comments can cause them to bottle up their emotions and not open up in the future.
That’s according to Dr. Amanda Gummer, who told MailOnline the five things parents shouldn’t say.
The way a parent handles and responds to a child’s emotion can drastically affect how they handle this in the future (file image)
‘Stop crying’ or ‘do not Cry’
It can be tempting to beg a child to stop crying.
However, it can lead young people to suppress their feelings, according to Dr. Gummer, founder of the children’s industry consultancy FUNdamentally Children.
She said: ‘It’s important for children to express their emotions and crying can be a natural and healthy way to do it.
“Telling a child to stop or not cry can make them feel ashamed or make their emotions invalid.”
Parents should tell upset children that they understand how they feel, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
She also recommends using a book or drawing their attention to something else if a child cries as part of a tantrum.
How parents should handle their children’s stress, according to a psychologist
Dr Amanda Gummer, a psychologist from Hertfordshire, revealed to MailOnline how parents can manage their children’s stress.
Create a safe and supportive environment: Children need to feel safe and supported to cope with stress.
Teaching relaxation techniques: Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help children calm their minds and bodies when they feel stressed.
Encourage physical activity: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood, and you can lead by example! Finding fun activities to do together as a family can really help.
Develop good sleep habits: Children need enough sleep to function well and manage stress. Parents can encourage healthy sleep habits by establishing a consistent bedtime routine and creating a calm and comfortable sleep environment.
Promote positive self-talk: Encouraging children to talk to themselves in a positive way can help them build resilience and deal with stress.
‘It’s not a big deal’ or ‘you’re fine’
Parents may think they are reassuring their children that they are okay or that they are not upset about anything.
But Dr. Gummer, who also founded The Good Play Guide, which provides expert reviews of toys and advice on how to play with children, said it’s essential not to degrade their emotions.
Instead of making them feel better, these phrases actually risk making a child believe their feelings aren’t important, she said.
She added: “Even if the situation seems minor to an adult, it can be a big problem for a child.”
“Downplaying their feelings can make them feel left out or invalidated.”
Instead, parents should reassure their child with comments like “I’m here for you” or “I can see you’re upset, do you want to talk about it?” Dr. Gummer said.
‘I told you so’ or ‘you should have known better’
Phrases that criticize children for making a mistake don’t help, Dr. Gummer said.
Young people are curious, and blaming them for a problem can make them avoid asking their parents for help in the future.
She said: “Blaming or shaming a child for their distress can make them feel worse and may discourage them from seeking help or opening up in the future.”
Experts have also warned that even if parents believe these phrases help teach their children a lesson, they actually increase their defenses.
As a result, young people are less likely to learn from the experience.
‘Don’t be afraid’ or ‘there there is nothing to fear
Monsters in the closet, barking dogs, and loud thunder are common fears among children.
And telling them not to be scared or scared can seem like comforting advice.
But in fact, it misses the root of a child’s feelings.
Dr Gummer said: ‘Dismissing a child’s fears can make them feel alone and unsupported. Instead, validate his feelings and offer reassurance and support.’
The US-based charity, the Child Mind Institute, recommends taking a child’s fears seriously, asking why something seems scary, and setting goals to overcome them.
Psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer has revealed to MailOnline what phrases you should avoid saying to your children
‘Just cheer up’ or ‘be happy’
Telling a child to “cheer up” or “be happy” when upset may seem like practical advice.
But it might actually make them feel like it’s not okay to feel sad, Dr. Gunner warned.
Whether a pet or loved one has died, or a friend has moved, kids should be told it’s okay to feel sad, experts say.
Dr Gunner said: ‘It’s not always easy to just ‘pick up’ when you’re feeling down or upset.
“This can make a child feel that their feelings are invalid or that they are not allowed to feel sad or upset.”