Mind your words

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.Your words have a strong impact on your children. Make sure they are positive.

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?

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13 thoughts on “Mind your words

  1. Jodi Gibson (JF Gibson Writer)

    It’s funny how having children make you realise the impact that your words can have. We are mindful not to be judgmental and to show our kids that everyone is different and have their own strengths and weaknesses. And that weaknesses aren’t necessarily flaws. Just all part of being human.

  2. Amy @ HandbagMafia

    So true, Tegan. So difficult, when we are tired, stressed or anxious to always say the right thing. I’m getting there but we all slip up. I always, always try to apologise to our kids when I do.

  3. Raych aka Mystery Case

    With three teen daughters, I’m so very mindful of this. My mother had severe body and diet issues (for no good reason) over the years and my sister ended up with anorexia. While I’m mindful, I’m still probably doing far too many wrong things as I become increasingly frustrated with my weight gain following health issues, although I do try and hide this frustration and just focus on being as fit and healthy as I can be under the circumstances.

  4. Mumma McD

    Absolutely I worry about my words all the time! The other day my miss 3 was playing and I heard her say “no, we don’t have time for that right now” with MY intonation and inflection. Broke my heart.

  5. Bec @ The Plumbette

    Easy to write but often so hard to do when you’re in the busyness of life or you’re tired or hormonal. I do try to watch what I say around my girls but when I stuff up I apologise. Actions speak louder than words and with kids, they are a sponge at what you say and they remember what you do.

  6. Janet aka Middle Aged Mama

    Having been on the receiving end of a lot of negative and critical comments when I was growing up, I made damn sure I never used them with my kids. It makes me cringe when I hear parents calling their kids an “idiot” or something similar.

    visiting today from #teamIBOT x

  7. Hugzilla

    I am very big on using positive language and positive reframing techniques. People scoff (LOL) but it goes back to when I read the work of Louise Hay for the very first time, and her work on affirmations and how your words and thoughts shape your reality. We avoid shaming techniques as part of discipline as well. You are so right. Kids are like little sponges who absorb your words.

  8. Renee Wilson

    Yes, I definitely am conscious of what I say in front of the kids. Miss almost five picks up everything! I am guilty of talking negatively about my body and looks at times around them and I need to cut that out! Great post.

  9. Vanessa

    I think it’s hard when we can’t use the word “bad” as adults. A nurse practitioner started using the phrase “less than ideal” with us rather than “bad”. Granted, she did generally work with kids and I think it’s good she had that phrase for them, but correcting us on using “bad” was a bit annoying. We are adults. Bad had limited meaning for us. Because we have reasoning skills we know bad isn’t black and white, but has a context.

    This was back in the T1 diabetic misadventure and it was about BSL readings. Yes, we would say this or that was “bad” but then we would talk about context or illness or all of the variables that influence it. Bad was just a nice simple word.


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