What you say impacts greatly on children
Man is the most advanced of all living creatures and in his exploits, he has tamed and continues to tame even the wildest of animals. Yet in spite of all his achievements, he remains unable to tame his tongue; continuing to build and destroy at whim by reckless use of this tongue. The adage that the power of life and death is in the tongue has never been truer than in a parents’ interaction with his child.
In the formative years, a child innately believes that the parent is a god. The child has not fully come to terms with who God is and so in their minds, they are convinced that this person (parent) who is always there and takes such good care of them must be god. Because of this, the child thrives depending on the signals he picks from the parents; these could be loving, caring, wanted feelings or rejection, abandonment etc.
Even as this child matures enough to know who God is, they still hold on to the belief that whatever the parent says is the total, undiluted, gospel truth, even whatever they say about him. Hence the child carves out its identity based on the verbal and non-verbal cues he receives from the parents. If a parent continuously puts down his child, making that child feel as though they are no good, the child will internalise these sentiments as part of their psyche and this belief will manifest in one way or another in the child’s life.
Due to this, parents who are unable to reign in their tongues unwittingly end up causing a lot of psychological damage. Frustrations encountered during their day to day interactions with others are released upon their innocent children while the unrealistic expectations they have of their children lead to further disappointments that are also off-loaded upon the child. Parents need to determine whose needs they are meeting; especially when they find such displeasure in the child for a simple often childish mistake. When this happens, the parent is often times projecting his own issues onto the child.
On the other hand, the parent who consistently speaks words of affection and praise; constantly affirming the child and offering positive guidance nurtures a healthy self-esteem in their child. Once this ‘truth’ is absorbed into the child’s psyche, he or she grows up as a confident individual, secure in his/her worth and well equipped to face insurmountable challenges in life.
World renown neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson in his book ‘Think Big’ recounts how his mother’s unwavering support and believe in him propelled him to be the person he is today. “I had been in the fifth grade not even two weeks before everyone considered me the dumbest kid in class and frequently made jokes about me,” he writes. “Before long, I too begun to feel as though I really was the most stupid kid in fifth grade but mother frequently said ‘you’re smart Bennie, you can do anything you want to do, you can do anything they can do – only you can do it better!” Carson reveals that though he did not initially believe what his mother said, her constant insistence and positive guidance enabled these words to finally sink in, propelled him to always do his utmost best which opened doors for him that would otherwise have remained shut.
Parents need to be sober in their approach to their children. Be focused, encourage and initiate positive communication and no matter what the child does or how badly they let you down, never underestimate the power of your words – both positive and negative. Be effusive with your praises because they need these to blossom and stingy with stinging criticism for too much of it will make them wilt. Never forget that you words have an impact in your child’s life; you must choose what that impact will be.
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