“Don’t eat that banana. It went bad and you have to throw it away.”
“The weather outside is bad today. You can’t go out to play.”
“The batteries went bad in that toy, so you cannot play with it.”
The definition of bad is “of poor quality,” and synonyms are poor, inferior, and defective.
I cringe every time I hear someone call their child bad, no matter how old they are. Kids are listening to what you say. Every time a parent calls their child bad, they are defining them as poor, inferior, and defective. Every time they hear something is bad it is always in a negative connotation, including them.
Children are difficult. As a mother of a child with sensory and behavioral issues, I 100% understand that. Day-in and day-out, I live with what other people see as a “bad” child. She is not bad. She is kind, funny, intelligent, imaginative, and curious, and sometimes she just doesn’t make the best decisions.
Does that make her a bad person? NO! That makes her a 3-year-old! She has not yet fully grasped proper behavior and daily interactions. Heck, sometimes I’m still learning those! Yes, she should know certain rights from wrongs, and I do have behavioral expectations for her. But when you label a child bad, they start to define themselves as bad.
Kids are pretty literal. The color blue is the color blue, whether it’s a light blue or navy. They only see blue. When they hear you calling them bad, they start to believe they are bad.
The first time I heard another child call my daughter bad, I cried. First of all, for the fact that such a negative word was assigned to her. Secondly, for the child who called her that. They didn’t know any better because that’s all they have ever heard: if you misbehave, you must be bad.
Children inherently want to do and be good. With enough positive praise, you can correct unwanted behaviors without ever putting your child down. It’s not easy, but imagine the bond and relationship being built when it is based on a foundation of support and uplifting words instead of negativity and being put down.
Your child can make bad decisions. They can have a bad day. They can even be in a bad mood. As a parent, it is our honor to encourage and speak words of affirmation to them during these moments. But please, don’t call and define your child as bad.