Why You Can’t Underestimate the Power of the Words You Say to Your Kids
What you tell them can shape their mindset, attitude, and beliefs about themselves forever
You are the center of your children’s world when they are young. Some of the biggest mistakes parents make involve what they say and how they say it to their kids. One positive affirmation or negative comment can shape their thinking for years for better or worse. If it’s negative, they may not change what they think about what you said for decades because they don’t know have power over their thoughts.
It’s difficult to break a habit of negative talk, especially if you were raised in a family where it was common. The last thing you want to do is pass that down to your children. It’s easy to make a negative comment or joke you don’t mean, but your kids don’t know how to tell the difference between a joke and when you are serious. Be careful with self-deprecating humor because you don’t want to put yourself down in front of your kids.
Children love to dream about their futures. They may want to be athletes, astronauts, the President of the United States, or entertainers. The last thing you want to tell them is they will never accomplish one of those dreams. I heard a dad tell his son who wanted to be a sports broadcaster that he couldn’t reach that goal because only a small percentage of people have that job.
If you tell your son they can’t get a job as a sports broadcaster, they could end up thinking they can’t accomplish big things. Let your kids pursue dreams like that because they could develop useful skills for other areas or find a different job in the industry they love. The more they hear they can’t do things, the less they will be willing to have diverse experiences and won’t explore opportunities.
Even if you know your child will fail at becoming the starting quarterback on the junior high football team, let him try. He may fail once but succeed when he tries again. Learning how to fail and bounce back is one of the most important skills you can teach your child. Don’t hide your child from failure by saying she can’t do something. Our most important lessons in life are learned from failure.
A parent who says negative things to their children could set them up for a life of poor mental health. You don’t know which words they will remember. One bad conversation about how they aren’t good enough or can’t do something could set their thinking. They could leave that conversation believing they aren’t worth anything, always anxious and fearing failure, or feel they will never be good enough at what they try.
Parents need to watch the words they say to themselves too. You could still be falling into the trap of believing negative things your parents said to you about yourself and let that affect how you parent. It’s easy to let your negative thoughts turn into unencouraging words towards your kids when you don’t mean it. Many adults don’t have the power to change their thinking, so we shouldn’t think it’s easy for kids to shake off negative things we say to them.