When words hurt

Question of the Day — What was one thing someone said to you in your childhood or younger days that still stings when you think about it?

I still remember sitting in the driveway, sobbing.

My 8-year-old body shivering with hurt.

“My, you’ve put on some weight, haven’t you?” they said.

Those words said by a relative stung and stabbed and lived in my memory from that day forward.

I never looked at myself the same again.

I avoided mirrors. I hid myself with baggy clothes. I began spending more time in my room.

Now, I am absolutely obssessed with making sure that never happens to my daughters.

Of course, I will fail because people do not think, they do not mind their words, they do not understand the hurt they cause so casually.

At the end of the day, here’s what I know to be true:

What we say and how we say it matters.

We also have to monitor what others are saying to our kids and stand up for our children when we hear it.

Courage, in other words.

And, in the wise words of Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

We cannot control what our relatives or the kids at school or even their friends will say but we can watch our own words. We can be aware and intentional about what we say and how we model minding our words.

6 Ways to Watch Your Words with KidsWatch your words

Use Positive Affirmations — Instead of putting your kids in a box and labeling their personality, try spinning it around for yourself so that you no longer see their quirk as a negative. Yes, I know it’s very popular to label our kids these days. Special needs. Gifted. Sensitive. Dramatic. Bratty. They are kids. Human beings. People. By emphasizing the positive, you’re likely to have a different perspective on your child’s behavior and realize they are just fine.

Compliment their Character — This is a hard one but can we stop telling girls how pretty they are the second we see them in a new outfit? Aren’t they all beautiful? Shouldn’t they all feel like a princess? If you must compliment their looks try, “I like how you fixed your hair today” or “That outfit is stylish.” But, an even better idea is to compliment their character — like noticing that they are a good friend, an active listener, have a kind heart or are very creative.

Bite Your Tongue — Children learn how to talk bad about others from their parents. Tone down the drama, quit the criticisms of people you know and stop judging others for what they do and don’t do. Think it all you want but don’t say the words in front of your children. When you catch them judging others, talk about the big picture and how we never know what’s going on in another person’s world. This even goes for those jerky bad drivers you pass on those long car rides as well as any amazing mistakes your child makes.

Practice Self-Love  — Love yourself. Love. yourself. Don’t berate yourself in front of your children. Don’t call yourself fat, dumb or stupid. Instead, do the opposite. Say things like I’m proud of myself and I did awesome today. This is how we build ourselves up. This is how we teach children how to build themselves up. Want a child who doesn’t like themselves? Then by all means, talk about your worst traits in front of them. By all means, stop talking about diets and weight and how you hate your body — and all those mistakes you make.

Acknowledge hard work — There’s all kinds of research on why we should not praise children. It’s hard not to say good job. But, the easiest way to boost confidence while not over-praising is acknowledging their hard work. Pointing out when you see them working extra hard on a project or taking extra special care to write their name can do wonders for their confidence — while also building their work ethic skills. I have practiced this enough to know that it works particularly well when siblings are arguing. When you can overlook their mistakes and say “I like how you handled that difficult situation,” their eyes light up.

Imagine You’re on Camera — Imagine each day that you have a camera that will air to millions of viewers and everything you say will be heard all over the world. Would you still say it? This is a great way to practice holding your tongue and making sure you speak honestly but positively.

Question of the Day — What was one thing someone said to you in your childhood or younger days that still stings when you think about it?

Photo Credits: Thanks to Alassandra Oddi for offering this great shot in Creative Commons.

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