Terminal Words


Replace the terminal words in your parenting vocabulary with life-giving words—words that build up rather than tear down.

If our children do not know how to forge healthy relationships with others, it is because we have failed as parents to provide them with the model they need. We must model and teach the things that will equip our children for the future. Unfortunately, too many parents are failing in this area. Too often we speak “terminal words” that neither edify nor support. They tear down. Let me suggest ten things we should never say to our children, and encourage you to avoid them at all cost.

No child needs to hear the words “Why can’t you be more like...”. Every child is unique, and God has created them just as they are. Don’t say “act your age.” What does that mean? Children do act their age! They act like children. They will be adults soon enough. Don’t ridicule a child for being a child. Don’t say “Is that the best you can do?” Whether you are questioning their appearance or their performance, these words are never helpful. Don’t label your children with words like “You’re the cute one,” or “You’re the smart one.” Children allow such words to define and limit them. Never say “How could you be so stupid?” "Stupid" is a terminal word, and a degrading one. Never—not even in a moment of exasperation or fatigue say “I wish I’d never had you.” Never. Don’t tell your children to “shut up.” There are other ways to contain inappropriate outbursts. Also, don’t say “Do it, or else!” Or else what? These words are an invitation to a child to test your limits. Finally, never threaten to leave your child for any reason, for any length of time. Threats are ineffective discipline.

Replace the terminal words in your parenting vocabulary with life-giving words; words that build up rather than tear down.


Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification... (Ephesians 4:29)


2 Samuel 13-14; Psalm 23

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