Words have the power to wound or lift our hearts. This isn’t new news. Of course, the challenge is when you are small and new to the world – the words you hear help shape your self-esteem and ultimately, worldview. Since I specialize in helping highly sensitive children thrive, oftentimes I spend time guiding children to “let go” of the words they’ve been called, from "brat" to "bonehead."

Said differently, we flip the script. I’ve helped a young boy, Tommy, begin to see himself as cautious and careful, instead of believing "You are a wimp." These are positive traits that were initially slammed into him as negative. Of course, we are all a work in progress, and we make mistakes. That’s okay. The point is to be a bit more mindful about the words that we let slip off our tongues into our children’s hearts.

To help with that, I have included the top 10 worst parenting words (without regard to curses) that have slipped into everyday conversation that I would love to see evaporate. They are:

10.       Crybaby

9.         Picky (fussy)

8.         Wimpy

7.         Whiny

6.         Punk

5.         Problem Child

4.         Hypersensitive

3.         Drama Queen

2.         Defiant

1.         Brat

Every single one of these words has a positive counterpart. Whether it’s changing “picky” to “discerning” or “selective,” the point is that when we 100 percent decide to frame things in a more optimistic light, we can reduce the likelihood of low self-esteem flourishing. Because frankly, children build their worlds with your words. Shakespeare probably put it best when he said: “The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants.”

Maureen Healy is an award-winning author, popular speaker and leader in how to help highly sensitive children thrive. She’s appeared on Disney’s “The Fatherhood Project” this year as a regular guest and worked closely with Fortune 100 companies such as Crayola to deepen their awareness of children’s sensitivity, creativity and joy. Learn more: www.highlysensitivekids.com or www.twitter.com/mdhealy

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