When you’re a parent of little ones, it’s easy to become desperate enough for some peace that you really don’t think about the consequences of what you are saying to your children. You’ve listened to whining all day, you’re tired from having to keep one eye on your children and one eye on everything else and even then, sometimes things happen that really have no explanation. Welcome to life as a mom of toddlers and preschoolers.
But allowing yourself to tell your children the below things just to gain a little peace in the moment isn’t going to help you in the long term.
“The police are going to put you in jail if you aren’t quiet.”
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a shopping center or department store when I hear a mom or dad say this to their little child. I understand that you are desperate and just want your child to be quiet but telling them in the heat of the moment that the police will come put them in jail is detrimental in more ways than one.
First, you’re redirecting the role of disciplinarian away from yourself. Sometimes kids have honest meltdowns due to a number of different factors but other times, misbehavior may be a cry for attention and it needs to be dealt with my you, the parent, and not by telling them that someone else will take care of it.
Second, and the more obvious reason not to tell a child that a cop will arrest them for misbehaving, is that you don’t want them afraid of a uniformed officer. What happens if your child gets separated from you in the shopping center? The first thing they should do is find a mom with kids or a uniformed officer. They might believe that getting lost is a form of misbehavior and therefore be afraid to tell a police officer (or security guard) that they can’t find you.
It’s pure panic when you turn around and find your little one isn’t there. Don’t compound that scenario by making them afraid of a uniformed officer.
“That mean door! Bad door! Bad door!”
It doesn’t just have to be a door. Insert any inanimate object in its place.
Here’s the scenario: your child hits their arm on a door. It hurts, they cry, but it’s nothing serious. It’s easy to take that hurt and redirect it. I actually caught my stepson teaching my young son this. He showed his brother that when he gets hurt, that he should take his frustration out on the object that caused the pain. He showed him to hit and yell at the door.
It’s normal to want to soothe your child when they get hurt but to redirect them in such a manner is counterproductive. It teaches them that they can always direct the blame to something (or someone) else when they get hurt. It teaches them retaliation (in this case by yelling and hitting) is okay and it teaches them that they have no fault in their own actions which led up to the accident.
Instead, as you soothe them, in most cases, you can use the accident as a lesson in being more careful.
Source: personal experience