14 Toxic Phrases to Stop Using with Your Grandkids (and 14 Fun Alternatives)

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Tough love has its place, and I know that coddling our grandchildren to the point that they don’t develop any strength or thick skin for this oftentimes cruel world isn’t the best method.

However, occasionally, I catch myself using words or phrases that I shouldn’t. Phrases that I wouldn’t want them to repeat or internalize.

It’s crucial to be mindful of our words around our grandkids because they’re like sponges, absorbing everything they hear. In the previous blog post, we discussed 20 phrases to avoid saying to your grandkids. Now let’s take a look at 14 more that can be toxic and accidentally affect them in the wrong ways.

This list isn’t meant to be preachy or condescending – it’s just a way to always improve our communication so our grandbabies can be the best versions of themselves for years to come.

I tossed in some fun, lighthearted alternatives too. 🙂

“You’re so clumsy”

Labeling your grandkids as clumsy can make them feel self-conscious and anxious about their physical abilities. Instead, try saying “Everyone makes mistakes, let’s keep practicing” or “It takes time to get better at something. Keep trying!”

Lighthearted example: “Remember, even penguins slip on ice sometimes. Let’s keep practicing and you’ll improve.”

“You’re just like your [parent]”

Comparing your grandkids to their parents, especially in a negative way, can create tension and resentment. Instead, try focusing on their unique traits and qualities by saying “You have your own strengths and abilities that make you special.”

Lighthearted example: “You’re like a limited-edition action figure with your own special powers. Let’s focus on developing those.”

“Don’t be so sensitive”

Telling your grandkids not to be sensitive can make them feel like their emotions are not valid. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and provide support by saying, “I understand that this situation has made you feel this way. Let’s talk about it” or “It’s okay to feel this way, but let’s see how we can manage those feelings.”

Lighthearted example: “Feeling like a human volcano? Let’s talk about it and find a way to cool down those lava-like emotions.”

“You’ll never succeed if you keep doing that”

Using negative language to express concern about your grandkids’ actions can damage their self-confidence and motivation. Instead, try saying, “Let’s think about how we can improve” or “I believe you can achieve your goals if we work together.”

Lighthearted example: “If at first you don’t succeed, let’s add some glitter and try again with better strategies.”

“You should know better by now”

This phrase can make your grandkids feel ashamed or embarrassed for making a mistake. Instead, try saying, “Mistakes are a part of learning, let’s see how we can learn from this” or “Let’s figure out what we can do differently next time.”

Lighthearted example: “Mistakes are just like a surprise ingredient in a recipe; let’s see how we can learn from this and make better choices in the future.”

“You’re too small for this”

Labeling your grandkids as “too small” can limit their sense of self and hinder their willingness to take on challenges. Instead of telling them they’re too small, try saying, “Let’s find a way for you to participate” or “Maybe you can try this when you’re a bit older.”

Lighthearted example: “You may be small, but remember, even Yoda was tiny, and he was a Jedi Master! Let’s find a way for you to participate safely and comfortably.”

“You’re just not trying hard enough”

This phrase can make your grandkids feel like their efforts are not recognized or appreciated. Instead, try saying, “I can see you’re putting in effort. Let’s find a way to help you improve” or “Let’s work together to figure out how we can make this easier for you.”

Lighthearted example: “I see you’re trying, but it looks like we’re both stuck in a pickle. Let’s team up and find a way to unscrew this jar of difficulties!”

“Don’t be a crybaby”

Telling your grandkids not to cry or calling them a crybaby can invalidate their feelings and make them feel ashamed for expressing their emotions. Instead, try saying “It’s okay to feel sad. Let’s talk about what’s bothering you” or “I’m here for you when you need to talk.”

Lighthearted example: “Crying can sometimes feel like a puddle of emotions, but let’s splash around in it and figure out what’s going on.”

“You’ll understand when you’re older”

Telling your grandkids that they’ll understand something when they’re older can be dismissive and make them feel unimportant. Instead, try to explain things in a way they can understand or say, “Let’s explore this topic together and see if we can make sense of it.”

Lighthearted example: “Let’s explore this topic together like detectives on a mystery case, and see if we can make sense of it at a level that works for both of you.”

“You’re so lazy”

Labeling your grandkids as lazy can be discouraging and demotivating. Instead, focus on their actions and how they can improve by saying, “Let’s work on developing better habits” or “I know you can accomplish this if you put in the effort.”

Lighthearted example: “We all have our inner couch potato, but let’s work on finding your inner energizer bunny and developing better habits.”

“You’re too young to worry about that”

Dismissing your grandkids’ concerns based on their age can make them feel invalidated. Instead, listen to their concerns and offer support by saying, “I understand why you’re worried. Let’s talk about it” or “Even though you’re young, your feelings and concerns are valid.”

Lighthearted example: “I get that you’re worried, but remember, even superheroes have concerns. Let’s talk about it and see if we can save the day together.”

“Why don’t you have any friends?”

Asking your grandkids why they don’t have friends can make them feel isolated and judged. Instead, try saying “Let’s find some activities you enjoy where you can meet new people” or “I’m always here for you if you need someone to talk to.”

Lighthearted example: “Let’s find a hobby where you can meet fellow unicorn enthusiasts and make friends.”

“Don’t be so bossy”

Calling your grandkids bossy can discourage them from asserting themselves and taking on leadership roles. Instead, encourage them to develop their leadership skills while being considerate of others’ feelings by saying, “It’s great that you want to take charge, but let’s work on listening to others’ ideas as well” or “Being a good leader also means being a good listener and considering everyone’s input.”

Lighthearted example: “It’s great that you want to take charge, but let’s practice your ‘Captain Cooperation’ skills and work on listening to others’ ideas as well.”

“I told you so”

Saying “I told you so” can make your grandkids feel criticized and judged for their mistakes. Instead, focus on helping them learn from their mistakes by saying, “What can we learn from this situation?” or “Let’s think about how we can approach this differently next time.”

Lighthearted example: “Oops! That didn’t work out as expected. Let’s turn this into a lesson and brainstorm some new strategies for next time!”

By being mindful of the language you use and the messages you convey, you can create a more positive and supportive environment for your grandkids, fostering their self-esteem and confidence.

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