Words are powerful. They have the ability to heal us or tear us down and the way we use our words with our children will impact them for the rest of their lives.
Can you recall the last time when someone said something nice to you? How about the last time when someone said something hurtful? Chances are that you can recall the memory when hurtful words were used more vividly than when someone used pleasant words with you.
That’s the way our memory works. Studies suggest that we tend to remember details more intensely and for a longer period of time when they’ve incited negative emotions in us. It can make us feel sad, angry, belittled, distressed and embarrassed to hear someone’s saying something hurtful to us.
Children, who grow up listening to insensitive remarks and unkind words, often hold onto that pain for decades to come. Those negative words can imbed themselves deeply into a child’s psyche, making them feel like they are inadequate and unworthy.
There is plenty of research to show that people, who face emotional issues as adults, were once kids who used to hear harsh and cruel things being said to them as they grew up.
What is meant by negative words
Negative words can appear in many forms and hearing them regularly can have a harmful lasting effect on our kids. At times, we may not be consciously aware of using these words so here are a few examples:
- Constantly using words with negative connotations such as stop, don’t, why aren’t you listening? etc. which make children feel discouraged and like they’re always doing something wrong.
- Mocking and laughing at your children’s weaknesses can make them feel humiliated, frustrated and incapable.
- Comparing your children’s behavior or abilities to others makes them feel less confident in themselves. This can make them feel that you value others more than them.
- Harsh words like stupid, bad, selfish, fat, skinny, weak or swear words should never be used to describe children. This can really damage their self-esteem and can stay with them as they get older.
- Name-calling, sarcasm, taunts, bullying and criticism are all examples of negative words and can have a devastating effect on a child.
Positive words with kids
Now that we know what negative words are and the impact they can have, it’s time to reflect on using powerful positive words with our children.
Research on using positive words is impressive. When children hear encouraging and uplifting words regularly, it can strengthen areas of the frontal lobes and can improve the brain’s cognitive function. By using more positive words, parents can support the development of their child’s healthy brain.
5 Tips for Using Positive Words with Children
- Be more consciously aware of your word choice.
- Remember that positive words will develop your child’s cognition development.
- When you’re in a bad mood, choose to stay quiet instead of using negative words.
- Be more empathetic. Remember what it felt like to be a child.
- Work on making your internal voice positive. When you are used to hearing your own uplifting words, you’ll be more likely to use them with your kids.
It’s important to acknowledge that words are powerful. As parents, let’s vow to use this power positively and raise amazing resilient children.
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About the Founder
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognised in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated, and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
Which is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.