Why It Is Important to Not Call a Child 'Bad'

Jul 27, 2023

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As parents, it is important to be mindful of the language we use when communicating with our children. One phrase that should be avoided is calling a child 'bad'. While it may seem like a harmless label, it can have negative effects on a child's self-esteem and behavior.

Why it's harmful

When a child is called 'bad', it can make them feel like they are a bad person overall, rather than just having made a mistake. This can lead to feelings of shame and low self-worth. Additionally, if a child believes they are inherently 'bad', they may be more likely to continue engaging in negative behaviors because they feel like that is just who they are.

sad child

Alternatives to 'bad'

Instead of the label 'bad', it is important to focus on the behavior that needs to be corrected. For example, instead of saying "You're a bad kid for hitting your sister", try saying "Hitting is not okay. Let's talk about better ways to handle our emotions."

parent and child talking

Positive reinforcement

Another important aspect of parenting is positive reinforcement. When a child does something good, it's important to acknowledge and praise their behavior. This can help to build their self-esteem and encourage them to continue making positive choices.

child with thumbs up

Long-term effects

The effects of labeling a child 'bad' can have long-term consequences. Children who are consistently told they are 'bad' may struggle with self-esteem and confidence well into adulthood. They may also have difficulty forming healthy relationships and may engage in negative behaviors as a way to cope with their feelings of low self-worth.

The power of positive language

Using positive language can have a profound impact on a child's development. Instead of focusing on the negative, it's important to emphasize positive behaviors and choices. This can help to build a child's confidence and self-esteem, and set them on a path towards success.

happy child


As parents, it is our responsibility to be mindful of the language we use when communicating with our children. By avoiding the label 'bad' and focusing on positive reinforcement, we can help to build our children's self-esteem and set them on a path towards success.