12 Phrases that Demotivate Children
Children need to awaken their desire to learn. Motivation is their most powerful engine and the basis of positive discipline. Therefore, we must put it into practice from an early age. When we say inappropriate phrases, even without meaning to hurt them, we can demotivate children much more than we think. Remember that words leave deep traces in children’s emotions. For this reason, we must be very cautious with the way we speak and the things we say to the little ones, especially when we’re angry, tired, or stressed.
In this article, we’ll share with you 12 phrases that demotivate children, so that, from now on, you can avoid them completely with your children.
Phrases that demotivate children
Sometimes, without realizing it, we use unfortunate phrases that can resonate in our child’s head in a very negative way. In addition to affecting their motivation, they remind the little one that they’re “not capable” of achieving something desirable for us. And instead of getting him to change their attitude, we hinder their path to maturity.
1. “You’re too messy”
No matter how angry we are, we should never use this phrase. Although our intention is to make him tidier, we’ll achieve the opposite.
The child will understand that they’re messy and then they won’t do anything to improve.
Instead, it’s better to establish clear rules to follow at home. For example, to tidy up their room every day or to bring their dishes to the kitchen after eating. It’s also helpful to implement consequences for when the rules aren’t followed. Just be sure not to use negative labels to refer to your child.
2. “You should be more like your brother/cousin/etc.”
It’s never appropriate to make comparisons between children because, when we do, we make our children think that their abilities aren’t valuable. Have you ever noticed this?
3. “I’m sick of you”
We need to stop our anger before we say phrases we’ll later regret. A child who hears this phrase will believe that their parents don’t love them anymore and this will make hurt and hatred grow in them.
4. “All you ever do is tell lies”
Before thinking that everything your child says is a lie or an exaggeration, you must listen to them. If you don’t take enough time to talk to your child, you won’t be able to know if what they tell you is true or not.
So, no matter how tired you are, you have to take the time to listen to them. This way, they’ll know that they can always trust you.
5. “You’re not going to get anywhere by doing that”
With this phrase, we’re only producing fear in our children and not a reflection for change. They’ll feel that if their parents are convinced that they won’t be able to advance in life, no one else will either.
6. “I don’t know when you’ll ever learn”
Every child is different and has their own characteristics and time to learn. Some find it easier than others. But, in the end, they all learn. We must be patient with them and never reproach them for their delays with phrases like this that only demotivate children.
7. “Stop bothering me”
It’s normal for children to ask questions all the time. Their curiosity is innate and they need to find out the reason behind things. They may sometimes be very insistent and this may end up irritating you, but you must avoid falling into phrases like this because you’ll be sending the message that their curiosity bothers you.
8. “You never do anything right”
This phrase is more common than you think, especially when parents get frustrated by their child’s performance. Besides being demotivating, it’s not true.
Despite the difficulties that each individual presents, there are always strengths to highlight. We mustn’t forget that, in order to learn, we must make mistakes.
9. “Your behavior gets worse every day”
By saying this phrase, we’re telling the child that they’re unruly and bad. Soon, they’ll assume that’s the case and their behavior really will tend to get worse every day.
10. “You’re a crybaby”.
If a child cries, do you call them a crybaby? We must be very careful with this phrase, as it’s the opposite of validating your child’s emotions. If they can laugh when they’re happy, why shouldn’t they cry when they feel sad or scared? We mustn’t damage their self-esteem with these words. Rather, let’s avoid them!
11. “I told you so”.
How many times have we said this phrase? Probably many more than we remember.
Children need to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. We should be their guides, but we don’t have to prevent them from making mistakes. With this phrase, we only feed the fear of failure.
12. “You won’t have any friends if you do that”
This phrase makes children feel that they’ll never fit in with anyone. It can even stop them from trying to socialize or make friends because they believe what we tell them.
Phrases that demotivate children
In this compilation of phrases that demotivate children, we’ve tried to convey to you why it’s so important to avoid them. More than likely, you’ve said them more than once. Don’t worry about the past, but do stop saying them from now on.
Sometimes, anger leads us to say words we don’t mean and we end up hurting our children. For this reason, it’s important that we take a moment to breathe and think very well about what we’re going to say to them.
Remember that the words that hurt us the most are those that come from the people who are most important to us.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Macías, M. C. M. (2011). La Importancia de la Motivación en Educación Infantil. [internet] Disponible en: https://www.feandalucia.ccoo.es/andalucia/docu/p5sd7914.pdf
- Torres F. La motivación y el aprendizaje. Revista innovación y experiencias educativas. [Internet] Febrero 2011. Disponible en: https://archivos.csif.es/archivos/andalucia/ensenanza/revistas/csicsif/revista/pdf/Numero_39/Francisca_Rosa_Pedrosa_Torres_2.pdf
Howe, M., & Press, O. U. Cómo la motivación afecta el aprendizaje. Psicología del Aprendizaje. Año 2020.
Chévez Amaguaya, E. K. (2013). Motivación como recurso estimulante para el éxito de los niños de 5 a 6 años. Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad de Guayaquil Facultad de Filosofía, Letras y Ciencias de la Educación.[Internet] Disponible en: http://repositorio.ug.edu.ec/handle/redug/22047