During my teaching career, I realized that when my students gave up and sometimes shut down on a first attempt at a challenging task, the frustration was usually attached to plenty of negative self-talk. As a teacher and parent, I learned to see the value of training kids to “watch their words”!
Words are things. They carry energy! Our words have a powerful effect on how we feel and function. By retraining ourselves as role models, and in turn, teaching our children the art of using positive words, we’re giving them a valuable tool for life. If you make a commitment to “word watching” along with your kids you can actually have some fun working on it together.
So, how to start? Take it one word at a time.
Three of the most important words to avoid are:
1. can’t (It is the worst of all four letter words and shuts you right down!),
2. try (Gives you permission to opt out or fail)
3. hate (A word filled with passion, which provides attention and energy to something you don’t want in your life)
Replace I can’t with statements such as: “This is really difficult, I don’t understand how to…, I don’t like doing this because…, I need help, This isn’t working for me because…, This is hard, but I’ll do my best, I need more time, I need more practice”.
Replace I’ll try with: “I’ll make my best effort, or I’ll do my best.”
Replace I hate with: “I don’t like this because…, I would rather have or do…, This isn’t working for me, That’s my least favorite, I don’t want to __ because…, I’m going to stay away from __ because…, It’s pretty annoying when…”
As you play with keeping words positive, you can model positive wording by stating what you want as opposed to what you don’t want. Instead of “Don’t run in the house.”- You can say, “Slow down and walk inside the house, please.” Attempt to word things in a way that creates an image of what it is you want your child to do.
One final suggestion. Constantly tell your kids what you admire about them. Stop your children if you hear them making negative self-statements such as, “I’m stupid, I suck at…, I’m ugly”, etc. Give them a hug and describe all of the wonderful things you see in them.