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Trust me, I know how it feels sometimes; you are concentrating on a task or chore and your four year-old decides nothing would be more fun than persistently trying to get your attention. In frustration, you lash out at your child, regretting it the instant the words leave your mouth. Maybe your little one does something wrong; breaks a plate, paints on the wall, destroys the TV remote (these happen a lot with kids in the house). In a fit of anger, words come streaming out of your lips that are more an attack on your child’s character than a scolding for the action itself. We say things like, “You’re too clumsy”, “Don’t be such a baby”, “You never listen”, or “You are always so naughty”.

More often than not, and if we are to be honest, we just throw these words at them without thinking. However, those words cannot be taken back no matter how much we regret saying them. Worse still, when they hear those words often, they tend to believe them and inadvertently they have long lasting effects on our children. When we use words, we must understand that our words, especially as parents, can either build them up or destroy them.

We must come to the point where we understand and take responsibility for how our words help shape the world our kids live in, and in so doing, use our words to empower our children. This is even more important when it comes to the area of discipline. We find ourselves so caught up in the ‘meting out punishment’ zone that we use words that are really hurtful because we believe it will show the child how we feel at that time. When in reality, what the child interprets from what you say is entirely different.

Some think it is not such an important thing to pay much attention to what we say to our children, but it is. There are several reasons why it is so. As parents, we need to realise that our actions and words influence our children. We have heard it said over and over again, or maybe read somewhere, that children learn what they live with, and that is the truth. The things we say to and around our children, are the things they will grow up believing first, and then, saying as well thereby creating a cycle of negativity. Let’s take a minute to think about the most common phrases that leave our lips. Are these the sort of things we want to hear our kids say?

Equally of importance is that these children genuinely love us, and in truth, they look up to us. It is not the kind of love that gives because it wants something in return; it’s just a pure kind of love; mixed with that love is a craving to be loved and accepted. So, our approval or disapproval means a whole lot to them, which means what we say to them about the way we feel, or what we think affects them a whole lot, even if we don’t realize it. Attacking our children’s characters rather than their mistakes, hurts them more than we think. If kids grow up believing that they were never loved, wanted, desired, they may end up with personality malformations or character defects.

So, how can we tame this weapon of mass destruction and create the right atmosphere for positive self-esteem?

  • Do away with labels.Words such as naughty, bad, horrible, stubborn, head strong, irritating, should never be used to describe your child’s character or personality; either by you, or by anyone else.
  • Take a breather. If you know you are prone to fly off the handle when correcting your child immediately an offense has been committed, take a little time to calm your nerves and collect your thoughts before you discipline. You may ask your child to go to the bedroom or living room while you do so.
  • Attack the offense, not the offender. When your little one breaks a plate, or paints on the wall, please, discipline for the action itself. No matter what the offense is, your children should never doubt how much you love them or what they mean to you. This does not stop you from correcting the child. Please, do not attack the offender, just the offense.
  • Remain in Love. I bet you can never forget the emotions that flooded your heart as you held your baby for the first time. Well, that child you may often feel drives you crazy, is the same baby you held in your arms a few years ago…remain in love. Through the ‘terrible twos’ and every other challenging year of parenthood, keep reminding yourself that this is the same baby you shared a special connection with in that unforgettable moment. Remain in love.

To your success!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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