19 Things You Should Never Say to Your Grandkids

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By Jonathan Trent

For older people, having grandchildren is one of the best experiences in their lives, but there could come a time when grandparents may overstep the line and say something offensive. To avoid this from happening, here are 19 things you should never tell your grandkids under any circumstances.

“Back in My Day, Things Were Better”

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Comparing your experiences with those of your grandkids can make them feel unheard. Every individual is different when it comes to challenges and difficulties. Therefore, transporting them to a different period when things were “better” can invalidate their experiences and make them feel bad about themselves. Stay in the present!

“Why Aren’t You More Like Your Sibling?”

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Picking a favorite grandchild can be damaging in the long run, as comparing children can lead to rivalry and resentment. The BBC reports that favoritism occurs in around 65% of families, making certain children feel undervalued or unworthy instead of supported. So, just don’t do it!

“When I Was Your Age, I Had It Tougher”

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Grandparents have a habit of exaggerating their struggles and difficulties growing up. However, it’s never productive to discuss this with your grandchildren. Rather than inspiring them to work harder, it may make them feel misunderstood and as though their challenges are foolish in comparison.

“You Shouldn’t Be Playing That Game”

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Instead of joining in with their grandchildren, some grandparents will choose to dictate to them about what they can and cannot do, even when it isn’t their place. Giving excessive instructions to your grandchildren can create a barrier between both parties as they feel you don’t want to connect with them. Instead, join in!

“Why Don’t You Have a Boyfriend/Girlfriend?”

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Many grandparents relentlessly probe their grandchildren about the opposite sex, a pressure that, at a young age, can create unnecessary stress. Children should not be prioritizing relationships; it’s just unwarranted and can be invasive, especially if they aren’t asking for advice.

“You’re Too Young to Understand”

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Ageism can work both ways. Many older people assume that younger individuals don’t have the mental capacity to understand certain things. While children have not yet had much experience, telling them that they are too young to comprehend something can come across as patronizing.

“Because I Said So”

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While it’s a parent’s job to discipline their children, some grandparents become authoritarian. Justifying discipline or orders by saying, “Because I said so!” is very dismissive and can lead to feelings of resentment from your grandchildren, who no longer see you as approachable. Leave discipline to the parents!

“You’ll Never Make a Living Doing That”

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Harvard Business Review explains that success comes to those who know themselves, their strengths, their values, and how they best perform. For this reason, you should never say things like, “You’ll never make a living doing that!” The world has changed a lot, and your grandchildren know their skills far better than you!

“Boys Don’t Cry” or “Act Like a Lady”

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Enforcing restrictive gender roles and stereotypes at a young age can limit your grandchild’s personal expression and growth. Rather than seeing them as a human being in their own right, grandparents may demand they act with old-fashioned gender values, which can be damaging to their development. Stick with the times.

“That’s a Dumb Idea”

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Although expressing your personal opinions to your grandchildren permits open communication, dismissing their thoughts and desires completely can eradicate their confidence. This is because it invalidates their ideas, leading to feelings of low self-esteem and aimlessness, as they feel as though they can’t do anything right.

“You’re Too Young for That”

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Sweeping statements such as “you’re too young for that” can halt a child in their tracks. Instead of supporting a child’s dreams and ambitions, some grandparents will place the restriction of age on them,  even if they are fully capable and apt to do something. Remember: age is but a number!

“You Should Be More Careful”

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Warning your grandchildren about potentially dangerous activities can be helpful, especially if they are quite naive. However, repetitive and exaggerated cautioning is not needed, as it can instill fear in children who will be afraid to ever veer out of their comfort zone.

“Don’t Be So Emotional”

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Children usually wear their hearts on their sleeves because they haven’t learned to regulate their emotions yet. However, telling them to stop being emotional can lead to them suppressing their emotions. As Psych Central reveals, it can teach someone to ignore or downplay their feelings or memories. Do you really want that?

“Why Can’t You Sit Still?”

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Kids are notorious for having a lot of energy, which makes it difficult for them to remain in one place for a long period of time. Therefore, making remarks about their natural movements can be discouraging for them, especially if they are bored or lacking stimulation. Why not take them for a walk?

“You Don’t Need That”

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Although many grandparents shower their grandchildren with gifts, some place restrictions on the various items they desire. If the child has expressed a desire to get something, condemning them for doing so can seem unfair and confusing. Instead, encourage them to save up money for it!

“That’s Not How You Do It”

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Constructive criticism is adopted by some grandparents who want to steer their grandchildren in the right direction. However, some grandparents will choose to dictate and explain how to do something in an aggressive manner, thus discouraging them from developing a sense of independence and creativity. 

“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”

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Bringing money into a discussion with your grandchildren can create anxiety for them, as they’re not financially aware–and they don’t need to be! They may not have any idea about money because they may not get an allowance and are not the correct age to work. So, give them a break!

“You Need to Lose Weight”

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Commenting on someone’s weight can be damaging, but it’s particularly detrimental for children, especially if they are already conscious of their bodies. Psychology Today notes that people with weight problems are usually hyper-aware of their bodies and have struggled with trying to lose weight, so what’s the point in reminding them!?

“Don’t Talk to Strangers”

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As a “stranger” could be anyone, telling your grandchildren not to talk to one can cause feelings of fear and confusion. They may panic about talking to a cashier or someone in their school that they don’t know too well in fear of something bad happening. Just teach them how to be careful instead.

“You’re Too Young for Big Decisions”

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Finally, many grandchildren will have to make big decisions, yet some grandparents still dismiss their ability to make choices. This can lead to them becoming insecure later in life when making decisions, as it undermines their independence and free will. Give them guidance, and they’ll be most grateful.

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