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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.