Words do really matter maybe even more than you think. The words you use with your child may shape them for the rest of their life particularly when they are about the child themselves.
I’m sure we have all at some point said, ‘don’t be so silly’ not meaning to hurt in anyway but if we repeat these words or similar, the child will begin to believe them . It’s in this belief that the frame of reference for their life is being developed. In other words – they will believe they are ‘silly ‘ ‘ ‘stupid ‘ ‘ not good enough ‘
Around the age of three, the brain starts to develop the capacity to understand what words actually mean. A child begins to have the ability to express how they feel in words. This is such a crucial stage in a child’s development, that to repeatedly use negative affirming words, you run the risk of damaging a child’s self belief and confidence for the rest of their growing life, taking these words into adulthood and risking them never feeling they are good enough.
As adults, parents, caregivers, grandparents teachers et cetera we can be hugely influential in the development of a child’s self belief system. Using the right affirming words helps to encourage the child to develop a strong belief in their own ability, their own thoughts and feelings all of which helps to develop an empathy for others.
Along with encouraging the child to believe in themselves. We also need to be really mindful that it is very important to validate their feelings and not be quick to ignore or dismiss their behaviour. Sometimes the only way a child can express how they feel is through their actions. It’s so easy particularly when you’re distracted or tired and just want a bit of time to yourself, you just want to get your child to stop crying or stop having a tantrum, or whatever it might be is causing the distress to both of you, to stop ad quickly as possible. It’s so tempting to ignore what might be the cause or at the root of the problem, and just resort to a quick fix. That’s fine sometimes but if you do it all the time, you are teaching the child to think they don’t matter. They are left feeling misunderstood and confused. They don’t have the capacity to understand how you might be feeling they can only understand it from how they feel.
The lack of validation of feelings can lead to the development of personality problems later in life, affecting how they deal with relationships and how they see themselves in general.
Distraction is a great tool when trying to calm down a distressed child. However, before you do that, it’s really important that you acknowledge that the child is in distress is upset or hurt or whatever has caused their behaviour by acknowledging their feelings. You can then use soothing and distraction techniques to help your child to feel they matter. And trust me in the 20 years of helping children and families, one of the things that I’ve heard a lot of from every age group are the words ‘I don’t feel I matter’ and ‘I’m not good enough’ These words didn’t miraculously appear in that persons brain, they were put there by somebody usually by someone of significance to that child, which is why they believed their words.
For all of us who have been parents or looked after children in any capacity, we know how challenging they can be. How easy it is to just want a quiet, and quick solution and a calm environment. If only it was that simple.
Hug-a-Bug World was born from the desire to build a child’s self belief system based on positive internal dialogue, positive thought processes, positive words, empowering, individuality and confidence and the ability to accept others. By using the techniques we explain on our website we can help you to help your child feel feel enough just being themselves and we can help you feel the same too.