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4 sayings to eliminate from your positive parenting vocabulary

parent bienveillant qui tient son enfant dans ses bras

Some sayings have become so embedded in our popular culture, they don’t even register anymore. But they can actually do a lot of harm to the bond you’ve created with your child. As a caring parent, you want to choose the tools and strategies that resonate with your values. Here are a few to support your thinking.

“Stop crying for no reason.”

When a child cries, they’re expressing a need, and that shouldn’t be dismissed. Maybe they need comfort, love, food, sleep… When you say those words, you invalidate their feelings. This can go one of two ways: Either the tantrum or the big emotions will get worse, or your child will shut down and bottle up their emotions.

Imagine you’re a woman with PMS. One minute, you’re laughing your head off and the next, you’re bawling your eyes out over your favourite TV show and a pint of ice cream because your kids hated your dinner.

Now, imagine your partner saying, “Hey, stop bawling for no reason.”

World War III, here we come.

You turn into a terrifying combination of Chucky and the Exorcist, and all you want to do is hurl the plates of your “gross” dinner against the kitchen wall.

Okay, you get the picture. Things can get dramatic pretty quickly!

The same goes for your child. (Their reaction… not the Chucky part!)

As a positive parent, you need to let go of the judgment: When it comes to deciding whether or not your child has a good reason to cry, you don’t get to decide. They do. Your role is to be there for them as they sit with their unpleasant emotion and figure out what they need.

“I’ll break it.”

And I’m not talking about the plates in the previous example. Some parents think being violent (physically and/or verbally) and aggressive will give them more authority over their child.

But it really only makes them more defiant and feel more anxious, rejected and humiliated.

When you’re faced with a child who’s very defiant and disruptive, remember it’s often these little hearts that need EVEN MORE love.


“You did that on purpose!”

Positive parenting puts a lot of emphasis on needs and empathy. Even when your child looks you straight in the eye as they pour their glass of milk all over the floor, think about the need behind this behaviour. A positive parent avoids trying to interpret their child’s intentions. Instead, they talk to them to figure out what they really need. (And they make them clean up the milk as a goodwill gesture! 😉)

“When I was a kid, (fill in the blank) and I’m still alive.”

The cherry on top of the sundae! I was saving the best for last! You know, child-rearing is constantly evolving with every new study that comes out. The experts’ recommendations are based on in-depth research and are subject to actual laws.

Just imagine: In Antiquity, when a person didn’t feel well, doctors would prescribe “bloodletting,” taking blood from a patient to cure a disease.

It sounds totally off the wall today, but it was an important step in the evolution of medicine.

Child-rearing is also evolving. So, you can understand how, even if you were spanked as a kid and “didn’t die from it,” it’s something we need to stop doing (like, ASAP).

Ok, but what should I say instead?

Now, dearest positive parent, if you’re still here, it’s probably because you’d like some alternatives to those cringe-worthy sayings. Here are a few:

  • I can see that [describe the outward signs of the emotion]. You feel [insert emotion]. It’s not easy to [describe the situation]. E.g., “I can see that your eyebrows are all scrunched up and your fists are clenched. You feel angry. It’s not easy to share your favourite toy…”
  • How can I help?
  • What do you need?
  • Do you want a hug?
  • Any other sentence that validates their emotion, maintains your bond and shows empathy. Go for it, Positive Parent!

Remember: With positive parenting, the bond you create with your child is paramount. The best way to nurture it is to spend quality time with them!

We’ve put together a guide for parents chock-full of ideas called 100 récompenses à moins de 5$. It includes things like paint your faces, decorate cupcakes, and 98 other awesome suggestions!Sources / Pour aller plus loin

PMS : premenstrual syndrome


Miller, M. (2019). Découvrir la parentalité positive. Éditions Trécarré.

Bourque, S. (2020). Les grandes émotions des tout-petits. Éditions Midi Trente.

Bilodeau, M. (2019). Soyez l’expert de votre bébé. Éditions Midi Trente.

Ben Amor, L., Morin, D., L’abbé, Y., Labbé, E. & Ouellet-Plamondon, C. (2019). Comportements difficiles… Que faire ? Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine.

Claudia Turmel
Conseillère pédagogique
Véritable amoureuse des mots et de la pédagogie (et des post-its, aussi !), je déborde d’idées pour soutenir le quotidien des enfants de manière adaptée et ludique. Anciennement enseignante, je porte maintenant le chapeau de conseillère pédagogique chez Minimo. Toujours prête à aider mon prochain (et à sortir une blague !), je carbure aux défis (et au café !).