‘It’s going to fall off if you play with it’
6 myths parents shouldn’t repeat and how to avoid telling them to your kids.
By Scott Dunlop
It may be out of anger or frustration, but there are certain myths parents should not repeat in the hope that their kids will modify their behavior. The fibs mentioned in a passing moment (or repeated for years) can lead to life-long insecurity or even worse. Check out some of the most common myths parents use to scare children into behaving:
The bubblegum tree: Chewing gum can become an annoying habit in a child, and it can lead to messed up shoes, furniture or hair, but if you want your child to stop chewing gum, don’t claim that a bubblegum tree is going to grow in their stomach, or that it “stays in you for seven years”. The truth is, bubblegum isn’t very digestible, so it just passes through the digestive system the normal way. Of course, excessive swallowing of gum may cause digestive problems.
It’s going to fall off: Yes, it can be embarrassing if you’re waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket and your son has his hands in his pants, but saying “it’s going to fall off” can cause immense trauma. Your child may need a patient explanation about hygiene and appropriate behavior, but a threat of penile amputation is not the way to go about anti-pants playing. Closely related is the “you’ll grow hair on the palms of your hands” myth told to teens.
Bogeys are poisonous: Some kids may pick up a fascination with excavating bogeys and eating them. As gross and antisocial as this may be, saying that “bogeys are poisonous” is simply not true. In fact, eating bogeys may even be healthy for your child, according to research, as it helps with building resistance to various bugs. Again, pointing out that it’s not ok to do in public is a far better solution.
They’ll help you see in the dark: The myth that eating carrots will help with night vision stems from a British government ploy during World War ll. There was an oversupply of carrots, so the official message was to say that night gunners had better vision because of a carrot-based diet. This led to a massive increase in popularity in carrots. Although adding carrots to your diet is as healthy as any other veg, night vision is not going to happen.
You’ll be kidnapped: While it’s important to ensure your child understands the dangers of talking to strangers or wandering off, telling your child he’ll be kidnapped could cause lots of anxiety. Even if there is a remote, billion-to-one chance that it’s true, a more considered approach to ensuring your child is safe would be better.
The wind will change: So your kid has discovered silly faces. Every time you need to take a photo, the eyes get crossed, or when you need to show off a happy child to family, she’s sulking, so, without thinking, you say “don’t pull that face, or the wind will change, and you’ll stay like that”. At the risk of using only me as the control subject in some extensive childhood research on face-pulling, that is simply not true.
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What myths do you repeat to your children without thinking?