8 toxic things parents say to their children

black parents lecturing upset daughter at table

Children should always expect their parents’ love and care. But, what if the parents say toxic things to their children? How would you feel if I tell you that in 2008 the Administration of Children and families in the US Department of health and human services reported that more than 50,000 were officially counted as victims of emotional abuse? 

toxic things parents say to their children
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Whether hurtful worlds are intended to cause pain or not? They can leave marks and memories from a short time to a lifetime. Hurtful remarks can come from loved ones such as parents, and the psychological and emotional damage can be detrimental to a lot of people, especially their children. 

The way parents raise their children and behave around them sets up the basic ground which builds their personality and self-esteem. So, how do you know if a parent or caretaker is toxic? Here are 8 toxic things parents say to their children that can affect a child’s life. 

Read more: 10 life lessons we all learn too late 

Toxic things parents say to their children

1. Offensive words towards their children

“You’re ugly”

“You’re fat”

“Too short”

“Too skinny”

“You’ve ugly hair” 

Degrading a child based on their appearance will likely only increase their physical insecurity and worry about their body image. This could lead to serious emotional issues, such as eating disorders. Parents are supposed to teach their children how to love themselves no matter how they look on the outside. 

2. Provocative questions towards actions 

“Why do you act so weird?”

“Why do you walk that way?”

“Chew that way, move or talk that way?”

Children tend to believe anything their parents say. So, sarcastic questions or remarks like these make the child feel like there’s something wrong with them. This makes it very hard for the child to be themselves around people, even during their adulthood. And they may then be trapped by the discomfort and fear that others may laugh at them or notice the flaws that their toxic parents made up for them. 

3. Selfish wishes 

“I wish you were never born”

“Wish I had an abortion”

“Regret having you”

“Wish you were a different child” 

Parents should never say things like this to a child. It’ll make them feel like they weren’t supposed to exist in this world in the first place, and that they don’t deserve to be alive. These remarks are so harmful to a child to humans in general. They diminish their whole sense of identity which can lead to self-harm and early depression. Instead, parents should make them feel loved and valued. 

4. Making the child feel like a burden 

“You cost me too much money”

“It’s so hard to take care of you”

“Having you exhausts me”

If a parent says this to their child, the child will feel like a burden. It’ll cost them to unconsciously hide their needs, feelings, and problems. Just to avoid the rough of the parent. Considering that, Nemours, a nonprofit children’s healthcare system reported that lack of love and affection, or materialistic things are some of the causes for some children to lean on stealing and being abusive. 

5. Unhealthy comparisons 

“Why aren’t you like your sibling, cousin, or the other kids?”

“The other kids are better than you”

This will reduce a child’s self-esteem substantially and makes them think that they’ll never be good enough no matter how hard they try. Also, comparing siblings with one another only promotes an unhealthy relationship between them. This will cause them to feel jealousy and resentment towards each other. Siblings should be equally given the right to build their own independent identities. 

6. Verbally abusive words or statements. 

“You’re stupid, useless”

“You’re a loser”

“You’ll never make it”

Absolute remarks like this will damage the child’s self-esteem. Parents must encourage their children into believing in themselves. 

7. Threatening abandonment 

“I’ll leave you”

“I’ll put you aside”

“You’ll wake up and never find me”

“I’ll just disappear”

This will cause a child to have abandonment issues. Feeling the people they love will leave them because of who they are. When a child grows up, this belief will be unconsciously ingrained in their mind. They will be unable to treat future relationships for fear of them leaving. 

8. Empty promises

“If you do this, I’ll buy you that”

“I’ll take you there next time.”

But then they don’t do it. When the parent makes promises that they don’t keep, it breaks the child’s trust. It makes the child betrayed. Making fake promises is an excellent way to teach a child how not to trust others in life. 


Even though words are not physically harmful, they can be extremely harmful to psychic and emotional well-being. Childhood is an essential chapter in every human’s life. Our childhood builds our personalities, behaviors, and beliefs. 

Have you experienced any of these forms of abuse? How do you feel about them? Do you know someone who has and could benefit from reading this article? Please consider sharing this article about toxic things parents say to their children to reach their attention. So parents or future parents can also be more mindful about how they talk to their children. 

(Visited 91 times, 1 visits today)

One Comment

Leave a Reply