Child communication “Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” ….

Child Communication -What you say is important!

“Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” Uhmm, Wrong! Your words are the most powerful and influential source on your child’s behaviour and the values they start to believe in. Your words can make your child feel on top of the world or confused and upset.

Child communication means watching what you say

Words influence thoughts, feelings and actions. Words have the power to hurt you or make you feel better, words have the power  to encourage you or discourage you, words have the power to make you feel loved or unloved.

As adults we have the control to not let what we hear affect us as much as it does a child. A child does not have this developed emotional ability, they take at face value exactly what you say and if they hear the smae thing over and over again, they start to believe that this is true.

Child communication, children hear more than we think they can

You are : Horrible, feral, monster, nasty, evil, stupid, idiot, witch, delinquent, trouble, hateful, brat, ghastly and awful.

If another adult used these words on you, how do they make you feel? Not great words are they? Well, for a child these words have triple the effect that they do on you.

Words are powerful, they can build you up, or bring you down – they ultimately govern how you feel at any given time.

Children do not misquote what they hear and it can be repeated to another child, the words they hear can be hurting another child too.

Choose your words with care, child communication  affects  your child’s behaviour and your behaviour too.


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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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  1. I totally agree. It is also so easy to label children based on their behaviour especially when they are two or three years old “whiner, cling-on, shy, loud, out of control etc”. This is why I got into personality giving parents the opportunity to see their children as a whole and reducing negative labelling. Words can become defining if repeated over and over again.

  2. Thanks for the reminder! The words don’t even need to be as horrible as that to make kids feel it. Even one word misconstrued by a little one can affect them. It’s so important to be aware of how we use words.
    I’m trying to teach my Pumpkin at the moment that she needs to be careful with her words because she knows that other people’s words can hurt her feelings. But, at the same time I’m also trying to help her to understand that words are just words and as she gets older they can only hurt her when she lets them.

  3. It’s good to be reminded of this from time to time. Thanks.

  4. I have always hated that expression. Physical abuse is hurtful and harmful but words can damage far more than our body; they can wound our souls. So much of what happens to us is reflected in the words that we speak to others, especially to our children. It is important to remember how those same words made us feel and to try as much as possible to only pass on the words that fed our spirits and lifted us up rather than those that pulled us down.

  5. As always you say just the right thing at just the right time! It is great to be reminded of this sentiment, epecially from a childs perspective. We need to blow gently on their wings not crush them…. on the days when they push “your butons” it should be remembered – they are your (my) buttons, not theirs, and not their fault they are doing it! Love reading your stuff… Have an awesome weekend. Sooz xxxx

  6. Thank you for the timely reminder. It is so easy to get caught up in the frustration of a situation & utter a few simple words that can have such a negative effect.

  7. Great blog – I especially love the 101 ways to praise a child. We have ot be careful what we say to each other to our children as we want our children to use positive and constructive language not negative put downs. Thank you for writing this Natalie.

  8. Great post. Words are indeed powerful. From a mother to a child. From a child to a child. I was gonna write a post about some hateful words I heard in high school that stung then and I still carry them with me and I hate (ok, dislike) the person who said them. Who has the right to talk down to others? Oh and hey would love to write a guest blog. Let me know if you have any topics in mind, as I can write about just about anything. 🙂

    • Thanks Pippi have received your post, should go up on Wednesday. Like you I too remember words used at school that I still dislike. It is amazing how much we retain both good and bad x

  9. I love your “101 Ways” chart. Such a good reminder to always be positive and praising. Thank you.

  10. This is so true, I see how sensitive my 8yo is to words alone and it’s a constant reminder to tread gently with the little people. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I’ve found a new fave in yours!

    • Yes words are very powerful especially to little people, and as adults they can still hurt. Loved your blog and I will be back for more. Nx

  11. Even as a kid, I never understood that saying ‘words will never hurt you’. They are the things that hurt the most.

    I’m a huge believer in positive reinforcement – if you tell your child often enough that he/she is ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’ they will be just that. But if you tell them they are intelligent, kind, etc. etc. they will live up to that.

    • Children look up to us for guidance, the words we use can build them up or bring them down. A child takes on what we say more than we realise. I remember words teachers used at school both the good and the bad.
      Positive reinforcement is so very beneficial both for children and adults.

  12. Yes if people label kids as naughty, bad they will always be like that. Esp hard when others do it, esp teachers & friends!

  13. I used to have a copy of 101 ways to praise a child… i think with my very energetic and loud 3 years old who often pushes my buttons i need to grab another copy and put them up somewhere in the house to remind me to breathe and remember the positives even when i am seeing mainly negatives. Would also be helpful with the Miss 5, Mr 11 and Mr 17months.

  14. Kelly E says

    Hi Nathalie 🙂

    You know we are having issues with this at the moment. Mr4 is meant to visit his Dad three times a week. This hasn’t been happening and the visits he does have seem to become more and more traumatic for Mr4, so much so that he said he wished he didn’t have a Dad. The latest visit was only two hours long but he said his Dad had threatened to slap him and that he was throwing blackberries around the fruit shop (he dropped them, hardly throwing them around) It breaks my heart that there is absolutely nothing I can do as there is a parenting order in place and the Courts don’t care what happens when a child is in the other parents’ care. I’m hoping once all the lawyers are back at work that the parenting order can be changed to supervised access as its all getting too much! Words DO hurt – I just wish his Dad knew how much

    • Kelly that must be very hard for you. Just reassure your son that it’s not him and that sometimes people even family do not know how to use the right words.

      • Kelly E says

        thanks Nathalie – I spend a lot of time making sure he knows he didn’t do anything wrong but it is taking its toll and starting to affect his behaviour which up until now he has been a very calm little boy. Keep your fingers crossed that we will have a better plan in place soon

  15. Leisa Martin says

    One of the best phrases we learnt with our perfectionist aged 8 was to encourage him to give things his ‘best shot’ rather than set him up with external measures of success. Otherwise he would not attempt anything as he feared he would fail including drawing, sports etc. This has worked wonders for his self esteem and confidence.

  16. This is fantastic. I need to stick the 101 words on my board and use them every day. I have not been using kind words. I hope I am not too late. I see my eldest mirroring my unkind words to her younger sister. (seriously) does words have triple effect on kids? I always thought it was action which would speak louder than my words (do as I say and NOT as I do)

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