As parents, I think we need to understand that we are our children’s biggest examples and so we should take ownership of our own actions. Especially when it comes to what our children see, hear and feel from our example. If they are doing something we don’t like we should look in the mirror as we might be to blame for their actions.
We need to be aware that in some cases our children act or react according to the examples we have given them or by what we have made accessible to them.
I am aware that not all of our children’s actions should point back to the parents, but I think we as a society tend to point the fingers at others people or circumstances way too quickly when our children have issues. We shy away from thinking the problem could be in part if not all, our own fault. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone; just making sure we know to look in the mirror as a possible solution to helping our children be better in these areas.
So before you read any further if you have not done so yet, please read my article entitled “Guilt: Useful or Useless” found on Mouthsofmums.com. If after reading this article you realize some of the problems might be caused by what your child is hearing, seeing or feeling from you, then you do need to forgive yourself and try and make it better in the future.
From experience, I have learned this the hard way myself. I realized some of my children’s actions were my own fault and this is one of the many areas I learned to forgive myself, dust myself off and try harder.
If you have a child that will not listen to you on a regular basis, then you might not be listening to them when they speak to you. If you have a child that is always getting into trouble you might not have spent the time needed to teach consequences to their actions. If you have a child that is overweight chances are if you look in your cupboard you might see the reason why.
So am I blaming you if you have a child that is not listening, misbehaves a lot or is overweight?
If you tend to talk over your child and/or not take the time to listen to how their day went and hear the concerns they might have, then yes I am. If you tend to just let your child get away with things rather than punish bad behavior, or worse yet give a consequence and then don’t follow through with it, then yes I am. If you have a bunch of snack food in your cupboards and you allow your children to eat them instead of getting them healthy snacks, and/or you allow your child to play computer games or watch TV more than you insist they get out and do active play, then yes I am.
I am not suggesting we should be an extremist on the other side of these issues either. We do not need to stop everything we are doing to always listen to our children. We do not need to go overboard with punishments for inappropriate behavior. And having a child involved in every sport, not allowing for any downtime to relax, eating only healthy foods and not enjoying an occasional bowl of ice cream or chips is also an unbalanced way to live and can be harmful as well.
Certainly, there are times that bad behavior and/or not listening or overweight could be caused by other circumstances. But let’s be honest and admit that some, if not all of these issues could have been redirected if only a little bit, by us seeing our part that we played in these issues, which would have allowed us to parent differently.
If you have a friend that tends to always talk about their own problems and doesn’t take the time to hear your concerns, you probably try not to spend much time with them and if you have to be around them, you tune them out. If we could get away with things without a consequence, for example speeding and not get a ticket, we would. Lastly, if we the parents have an unhealthy diet and lack a routine of exercise, then this is probably the biggest reason for being overweight and your child sees this every day. When we look at it this way, we have to understand why our children are the way they are.
All of these things we allow our children to be when they are younger will follow them when they are old. If they have not been listened to, they will not learn to listen. If they have not be taught, they will not be teachable. If they are overweight as a child they will struggle with weight for the rest of their lives.
We do not need to hinder our child with an extra battle to fight when they are older because we didn’t take the time and energy needed when they were younger to help them develop good skills.
Your child might make the right choices even if you don’t help them to do so, but don’t assume they will. Make life easier for them now by teaching them how to listen and care about other, learn the art of good consequences and last but not least teaching good, healthy eating habits and encouraging them to go outside and play. I suggest that you even go out with them and be the example they need of what a balanced life should look like.
There is power in words.
It is said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
If you want your children to grow up thinking they can accomplish anything you need to speak words of encouragement and love over them.
Saying things like, “Will you ever listen?” or “You never do what you’re told” will lead your child to think they are stupid, inadequate or unloved. Here is another one that is so easy to come out of our mouths. “Even a dummy could do that”. Wow, did we just imply our child must be dumber than a dummy because he/she couldn’t do something? Yes, we did. But do we think of this when we say these words? Not usually. We have to start thinking about our words because the impact is profound. Now that you are a parent it is imperative that you use words of life, words of encouragement. Speaking positive things into our children’s lives as much as possible.
When we begin to understand the effects our words will have on our children, we see we have the ability to empower our children or tear them down with what we say to them. How we say things is so important, but even more important is ‘what’ we say. If you saw your child do something that was not very smart you can set the example by not pointing out the lack of being smart but instead giving them a different avenue to think. For example: “Now what do you think would have been a better way to do that?” This encourages them to not focus on what they did wrong, but on what they could do better. It shows a better way of thinking. We need our children to know when they do something wrong however we do not need to put them down with unnecessary hurtful words in order to get that point across.
In the heat of the moment I have said words that were not uplifting and when we do that as parents we will see a look that comes over our children’s faces that hopefully will do what that look is intended to do and that is to show us the hurt it causes. This is not to condemn you but to show you that maybe there was a better way to say the same thing.
I struggled for years in trying to find approval. I believe that excessive need for approval is created because we hear things in our lives that make us feel as if we are inadequate. I can tell you it took me way too long to learn this one simple lesson and I am still dealing with the effects of my negative words on my children. I have one son who by nature tends to be lazy, however, I have compounded the problem by saying things like, “Stop being so lazy and get your room cleaned.” Now I am trying to reverse that by congratulating him when he does show signs of working, and now when I need him to clean his room I refuse to add any personal comments at all and just ask, “please go clean your room”. We cause ourselves and our children so much grief by our words and even though I still make mistakes, sometimes daily, the trick is to notice them and try to fix them when you can and then to work on not doing it again.
Along these same lines are nicknames we give our children. Sometimes when our children are born we feel the need to call them pumpkin, princess, soldier or something like that. These nicknames are not bad and they usually were said because of something they did or said that just caused us to say it one day and it stuck. For example my youngest child I called baby. Even when she grew up, I would say “Hey baby, how was your sleep?” to us, it was endearing and even though she is now an adult she loves to hear it as it reminders her that she is my youngest child and my baby. I never realized how much it meant to her nor really paid attention until one day I started calling my grandson ‘baby’ and my youngest got a little annoyed.
When I asked what the issue was, she stated “I’m the baby!” and then I realized what was going on. Upon explaining to her that she would always be my baby because she is my youngest, it was OK to share the name because it meant something different now as he is the actual baby in the family. I also explained that for now he is literally a baby and so it fits, however she is not called that due to her age but due to her station in the family and so she will always be ‘my baby’. After I explained she realized her ‘baby’ name was still intact and always would be.
I will make an effort soon to pick a different nickname for my grandson as he is now no longer a baby, but I will pick something uplifting and encouraging as I do not want anything as simple as a nickname to be a cause of negativity in his life.
I was called ‘squirt‘ or ‘peanut’ when I was young. Occasionally I was called ‘Linderella’. I understood the first part for sure as my given name is Lynda, but I am not certain if the reference to Cinderella was due to the fact that I was the one that always got up and became the hostess when we had company or if I became the hostess because of the name. But in either case, it was not a negative thing in my life and I found it cute.
So pick names that are neutral and/or that have a positive impact on the ones that they are bestowed upon. In historic days it was evident how important names were. In biblical times if the name you were given did not suit you it got changed. In the eighteenth century and with all royalty it is a point of honor to have a family name. When you look up names even now we all want to know what they mean. So I think we should give heed to even the nicknames we give out.
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