Parenting Series 5: Trigger Words


I’ve been thinking about some of the words that make my boil when said to me by a parent and on the top of the list is ALWAYS and NEVER. Have you ever told or been told that you “Always do something poorly” or “you never do something right?” It doesn’t have to be within that context but always and never are words that are not only triggers but they are false. No one ever always or never does something. It’s unfair as a parent to say these words to children because you’re putting a permanent notion in their head about their actions. That is one habit that needs to stop pronto.


Instead of telling a child or even your peers that they always or never do something you can simply say what you mean OR make a request. You can ask your child to do whatever the task is without having a tantrum. Or you can say what you have to say without using the extremes of never and always. You can say something like “Please remember to take out the trash. I know sometimes you may forget but please do it by our agreed upon time.” Doesn’t that go over a lot better than “You never take out the trash.”? Or “You always forget to take out the trash.”? Parents, your job isn’t to just raise responsible children, but you want to raise kind children and ones who know how to make requests in pleasant way.


I’m clear that a lot of parents feel that they don’t have to be pleasant to their children because they feel as though children should just do as they are told the first time. I get that some parents are tired of saying the same thing over and over again and some children are just lazy. I get that some parents feel that they shouldn’t have to compromise with their children because after all they are just children. However, outside of being children they are people. Little people finding their way in the world with your guidance. The way you show up for them is the way they will show up for themselves and others. You as the parent gets to make a powerful choice when it comes to interacting with your child. Think about the precedent you’ve set for chores. Have YOU been consistent with the chore routine? Have you outlined what happens if chores aren’t done? Have you explained the purpose of chores? Are you mindful of your tone and your actions? All of these things matter when it comes to children learning about what works in the world and what doesn’t. Do not just take it for granted that your children know why you have to do certain things around the house especially if you haven’t taken the time to chat with them about it.


Talk to your children the way you would have been liked to be spoken to as a child. Some of us wonder why we have rude children with attitudes but I say look no further than the parent. Your children hear and mimic everything you do….EVERYTHING. You have to be mindful of the way you sound especially when you’re in the role of disciplinarian. Even when you’re being stern you can still speak with love and care. Stern doesn’t have to include mean and hurtful words. Being stern is taking a stand FOR your child in a way that still leaves them empowered but also knowing that there are boundaries and consequences to actions. We don’t ever want to leave a child disempowered simply because you want to prove a point. No way. You trigger your children when you use hurtful, extreme and disempowering words. Be mindful of what messages you are conveying because you’re creating an internal dialogue for your child right now. Teach lessons without breaking their spirit. Be mindful.

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