Book Warns Moms, Dads About Excessive ‘ParentSpeak’ Toward Kids


(CBS) — “You’re okay.”

“Say thank you.”

“Be careful.”

A book called “Parent Speak” questions the well-worn phrases that parents say to their kids.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez gets the author’s take on what you should be saying instead.

So, what’s the harm in saying “Good job” to your kid?

“Our children want to please us and ultimately you create a people pleaser,” says Jennifer Lehr.

Also, she says, the generic phrase doesn’t explain to the child what was so good about what they did.

“We use it to say so many different things. We use it to say, ‘Thank you,’ like if somebody clears the table.”

Lehr, a mother of two, avoids other phrases, like, “You’re OK,” “Say thank you,” “Be careful.” She considers them condescending, controlling and harmful to kids.

Lehr has these suggestions for alternatives to ParentSpeak.

-Rather than trying to convince kids they’re fine after an injury, ask them if they’re in a lot of pain or whether it’s getting better.

-Instead of advising children to “Say thank you,” remind kids that they may want to do that.

“If they are in the other room, say ‘Do you want to thank so and so before we leave?’ Then you’re supporting them,” Lehr says.

-Have some faith that kids will, in fact, be careful.

“If you get a little bruise because you fell off the slide, then maybe next time you’ll be a little more careful on your own,” agrees Dr. Scott Goldstein of Northwestern Children’s Practice.

Is “ParentSpeak” just another excuse to make parents feel guilty?

“I would say no parent should feel guilty, although every parent feels guilty some times,” Goldstein says.

Lehr’s book also tackled discipline, and the time-honored “Time Out.”

She says children misbehave because of an unmet need, and parents should try to figure out the need, rather than withholding love and attention with a time out.

Lehr says that can be humiliating if given in front of others and potentially lead to abandonment issues.