In the midst of the Christmas spirit, we sometimes blurt out phrases to our children that unintentionally impact their confidence in harmful ways. According to a family psychotherapist, there are 5 in particular that are problematic. And that you may have already used!
Who hasn’t already used the excuse of Christmas to keep their children good? The solution is easy, but not necessarily recommended if we are to believe Fiona Yassin, a British family psychotherapist who speaks on this subject in the media. There are also 5 sentences that we can sometimes say without thinking about it before the arrival of Santa Claus which would have consequences on their development.
“Be careful, if you continue, Santa Claus will put you on the list of naughty children”
The phrase is a great classic and yet! Beyond asking a child to behave well, it would have an anxiety-provoking effect, particularly in those who already have existing mental health difficulties, warns the psychotherapist.
“Parents may be tempted to prevent bad behavior by threatening them with the naughty list. However, rewarding “good” behavior with gifts and “bad” behavior with punishment can teach children and adolescents that “They are less valuable when they are ‘bad’. To the young person this may seem like a truth unless the parent continually reminds them that they are loved unconditionally” she explains.
“I deserve to have more” (of this log, of this dish)
During Christmas, it is very normal and cultural to treat yourself to festive dishes. But specifying “I deserve to have more” or “I have earned the right to indulge” would send the wrong message to the children around the table.
“When someone talks about food in the sense of ‘deserving’ it, it conveys the idea that we must earn the right to eat or earn the right to have pleasure. Assigning moral value to food can trigger negative thoughts and behaviors among young people” explains Fiona Yassin. In the same way say “I abused these good things” in this case induces shame for having eaten. Two values that can “promote harmful eating mentalities” among the youngest.
“If I buy you this gift, I can’t pay our bills”
In the context of current inflation, it is almost tempting to say this in the face of children’s pressing demands, with the aim of making them understand the value of things. “But the truth is that children (especially young children) don’t understand finances.”underlines Fiona Yassin.
Talking about gifts in this way can make young people feel anxious and guilty. With another effect playing with his emotions : “It can also be very upsetting for a child when you tell them they can’t have something because you don’t have enough money to pay for it and then it appears under the tree on the day of Christmas.”
“And no, Dad didn’t get Mom anything this year!”
Are you disappointed because your partner didn’t think of a gift, while you spent time finding the attention that would please them? Save your grievances for when there are two of you. For Fiona Yassin, you should avoid expressing it in front of children because they may be anxious to see or expect that their parents have not exchanged gifts. No need to involve them in this.
“Give (grandpa, aunt…) a kiss”
With reunions and gifts, it is normal to greet and thank each other during the holidays. But the expert nevertheless reminds that a child should not be forced to give a kiss or a hug, even to a family member. “When a child is forced to give a hug, a kiss, or show affection, it takes away their free will and choice. “It gives him the message that he doesn’t have control over his own body, which can be dangerous.”.
Being polite, saying thank you and hello is one thing. Engaging your body is another. An important distinction, like a nice gift to give to your child.