A child’s vocabulary is constantly growing. According to speech pathologists, kids aged 4-6 learn about 20 new meaningful words each week, and that number only increases as they get older. For kids like my daughter who have an inclination for spelling and grammar, they can pick up new words every single day and retain them with amazing capacity.

Bad words make a bad impression

Not every word your child learns is a good one. No, I’m not talking about curse words and put-downs—these are clearly negative words. Rather, I’m talking about words that hinder their thinking or lead to bad habits. Here’s a look at 10 words every kid knows, but shouldn’t be using:

  1. Stupid
  2. Dumb
  3. Hate
  4. Gimme
  5. Shut up
  6. Can’t
  7. Fat
  8. Idiot
  9. Gay (derogatory)
  10. Poor

Looking at this list, some of the words make sense immediately. You never want your kid to say “you’re stupid” or “look at that fat person.” It’s just not respectful or in good taste. Some of these other words follow a similar trend. “I can’t do it” quickly becomes an excuse in the face of challenges. “His family is poor” is a bad mindset for empathy. “Gimme!” enables a sense of entitlement. They’re subtle, but they all have better alternatives that promote a better way of thinking.

Good words promote positive thinking

Speaking of promoting a better way of thinking, there are some words that kids learn that aren’t used quite enough. Here’s a look at 10 more words that should be part of every child’s vocabulary, no matter what:

  1. Please
  2. Thank you
  3. You’re welcome
  4. Challenge
  5. Confidence
  6. Forgive
  7. Understand
  8. Help
  9. Why
  10. Love

Again, many of these words make sense. Please, thank you and you’re welcome are all basic manners—something everyone should have. But there’s also words like “understand” and “why” that are important for a child to learn. Being able to say “I understand” or “I don’t understand” helps keep them engaged with the world around them, and “why” powers their zeal for learning. Learning the word “challenge” as a positive word can help them look at challenges as opportunities, rather than something to shrink back from. These words and more are meant to put kids in the right frame of mind for thinking positively and acting morally.

Consider your language

Kids pick up words from everywhere—school, television, friends, etc. But their biggest source of vocabulary comes from you, their parent. How you speak and the words you use have a huge impact on your child’s development. Being mindful about which words you use and which ones you avoid can influence how they speak and think.

Consider the difference between statements like, “that’s stupid; why would you do something so dumb?” and “please help me understand why you did this.” The difference in tone is clear, and it’s worth distinguishing when there are little ears around to hear.