Children, especially young ones, are walking sponges. When you think they aren’t paying attention, they are taking in everything you say. They don’t understand tone and sarcasm, instead taking you at your word. They forget that you asked them to clean their room but you can be sure that they remember verbatim when you told them you’d buy an ice-cream at the shops.
As parents we have such an important job to ensure that the words we say to and around our children are loving, supportive and help them to grow. Of course none of us are perfect. Words can be said in the heat of the moment. Conversations not meant for little ears overheard and exposure to people with different values to your family all have an impact on our children.
In our house I have banned negative body talk. I know what it is like to grow up believing that your body is wrong, to lay in bed at night comparing parts of your body, trying to convince yourself that you aren’t abnormal. I don’t want that for my son (yes boys can and do suffer from poor body image).
We don’t talk about good and bad food. We talk about food. Sure, I have boundaries when it comes to what Mr 5 eats because no boundaries can be just as damaging for a child as too many restrictions. However we don’t have labels for food. I don’t use ‘that food is bad for you’ as a reason why he cannot eat something. I want him to have a positive relationship with food, I don’t want him to obsess about it.
I know that I make mistakes with the words that I say. There are days when I go to sleep berating myself for the way that I parented. I can feel myself trying to shove the words back in my mouth as I see the impact of them written on my son’s face.
I worry about the long term effect those words will have on him and the way that he feels about himself. I am working on it. I try to improve my self talk so that it doesn’t project onto him. I’m working with my psychologist on my tolerance. I am trying to make changes. I’m not perfect, but I hope that he knows that I love him more than anything else.
Do you worry about your words and their impact on your kids?
Do you find yourself believing negative self talk from your childhood?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT!