A special quote that I keep close to my heart and often consciously reflect on everyday is from Peggy O’Mara. She said, “The way we talk to our children, becomes their inner voice.” Powerful words about childhood self esteem. As a parent, I can easily build my children up with praise and encouragement or tear them down just as quickly with a snide comment, an overly critical voice, or even a tone of doubt. I have to be cognizant and careful of the words I choose and how I deliver them to my children. Remember, there is a message in every way that we interact with our children and it’s important that the messages we send are underlined with love.
Interacting with your child everyday is a fulfilling experience, however, it also can be overwhelming. We get so busy with the day-in-day-out routine that it’s easy to fall into monotonous habits and forget to take the time to truly be present with our kids. When this happens, it leaves room for stress to enter our lives and that stress can slowly begin to affect how we interact with our little ones. We become tired and short-tempered and can quickly respond to our children in not-so-kind ways.
Think about the kind of adult you hope your child will be. What kinds of attributes will they have? Are you hoping you daughter will grow up to be independent, curious, and goal-oriented? Do you see your son becoming a good listener, empathetic, or a problem solver? Imagine the kind of characteristics you hope to instill in your children and think about how your interaction with them now is slowly putting them on that path or taking them away from it.
Here is an example that can go one of two ways:
Mari is 5 years old and she has been struggling to tie her brand new shoes that have bright, green laces. As she attempts to loop the laces around each other she ends up tying a knot. She unties the knot and tries again.
RESPONSE A: Mari’s mom, Cindy, watches from a distance, tapping her foot, impatiently. Cindy briskly walks over and takes over the task saying, “Just let Mommy do it. I’m faster. The laces are too hard for you; we will have to go back to velcro.”
SCENARIO B: Mari’s mom, Cindy, slowly whispers, “You almost got it! You were able to do the first part of looping them together! I saw that when you got a little stuck, you knew to untie the knot and try again. We can keep practicing. Here, I’ll sit next to you with my shoes and we will tie our shoes together.”
Two very different messages were conveyed to Mari. In the first response, the message she received was that she was incapable. In the second response, she heard that made a small success to celebrate with completing the loop. She also heard that if you get a little stuck, it’s good to keep trying with practice. Parents of young children have all been in this similar situation, of needing to leave the house in a timely manner. Scenario A may seem like a quick fix, however, in hindsight it’s breaking down Mari’s efforts and belief that she can do something independently. This is what I’m talking about. . .stop and think about the message you want to send to your children when you interact with them. What do you want their inner voice to say to them?
The Parenting Hub would love to hear about the special ways you interact with you children everyday. Please send them to: email@example.com