I have touched on this a few times in other blog stories but this has been a topic that I am growing very passionate about. As the generations change it seems vital that we need to also change the way we speak into our children. Now I am not saying we don't do this well already, I just want to suggest a little something extra you can add to your conversations if you haven't thought of it already.
I have had many talks with my mum about her schooling and how she was raised. My mum came from a loving family so it is nothing to do with that but in her generation so many things were kept from children or they lived by the 'children should be seen and not heard' type motto. She went to school in a strict convent where she explains on one of her first days at school she was smacked on her hand with a ruler for colouring in her the circle shapes in all her letters. My mum hated school from that moment and ended up leaving to help run her family's business, but she is one amazing drawer and artist. Where I come from speaking positively into children is that imagine if she was encouraged to explore her artistic abilities by those who surrounded her as she grew up. Would she have stayed in school and studied art? Would she be a famous artist now? I know she loves life now and might not even think about this but could this have changed the course of her life or even how she sees herself? I think yes. My mum has taken up art classes and drawing again and I can speak for her when she definitely is doing this in a much more encouraging and positive environment now. She is improving every piece she does and is so confident in her abilities.
Many friends of mine have talked about this topic a lot in the way that they are not going to do or talk to their kids the way they were from their parents. I guess there are lots of things we will take away from our own upbringing and recreate for ourselves or do the complete opposite. We don't have to have a negative experience when growing up though to change how we speak into our children, everyone and anyone can and should do it. Parents who make their kids feel bad about themselves or never praise them for anything are only going to create children with low self esteem and confidence. We all should know this right? So think about when a child is told they could never be a doctor because they have to be really smart. What if that child was to grow up and find a cure for one of our many illnesses? Sometimes the things we say or even our body language can tell a child in so many words they can't do it, they aren't good enough or its' impossible.
So this is where Cam and I began to really focus on speaking positively to our kids.... Confession time. Being a teacher and reading with other people's children I can honestly say is way easier than with your own. Yes I absolutely wanted all the kids I taught to succeed but nothing compared to that of my own. I'm my kids biggest fan so want them to do good at everything. But that is totally the wrong kind of attitude. It's not bad to want your kids to be good at everything but if I say I want them to do the best they can do at anything they try, don't you think that sounds a little more encouraging? So when Jack would read his reader and stumble over words he knew from his word sheet or was forgetting a word he sounded out the page before my patience level was taking a serious dive. One afternoon he burst into tears and said he was bad at reading and wanted to give up because it was too hard. Talk about break your heart into pieces. I knew I was playing a huge part in him feeling this way. He could see my frustration by my body language and so far I hadn't said a single positive thing about the rest of his reading he was doing well with. I was thinking it but hadn't said it and it certainly wasn't coming across in my huffing and puffing. I felt horrible and wanted to slap myself. That moment was going to never happen again if I could help it. We put the book aside grabbed his word sheets that I knew he would get all right and after he flew through them I filled him with praises of look at all these tricky words you know, you can read buddy and you are awesome at it. With the reader back in front of us, Jack started again with me his constant support and encourager. A very different child at the end of the reader. I can read the book now, I want to try a harder one. There is power in positive praise.
Later that night I talked to Cam about what happened and we started looking back on Jack's personality and in particular how he has responded to previous events. Our son thrived on words of praise. He is a sensitive soul and likes to follow others for confidence and reassurance, which can I say is totally fine. I don't think everyone is born a leader. However this was Jack and we needed to start making sure we were speaking into him what he was craving from us so much. We even had this same conversation with his teacher at school who completely agreed and said she would focus on him to do the same. We decided we would make sure over the day we were with Jack we spoke two or three encouraging things over Jack and when doing something with him we would be really encouraging. Now that sounds like a given but with three young kids, running a house and the busyness of life, that is actually a bit of a challenge because it can be easily forgotten or hard to do when you as a mum are exhausted and had enough of the day. I knew that after some time this was probably going to slip a bit so I decided to plan it into the day until it would come out without thinking. When Jack reads, I make a positive comment at the end of each page and when I am tucking him in bed at night, I tell him something that I love about him. The smile on Jack's face and when he sits up tall is enough to say that this is vital in raising him so he is successful in his life whatever that may be.
There is no child out there that doesn't want to hear something positive or encouraging about them. There is a game we played in youth group where everyone said something positive about a person chosen. Last week I remembered this game and grabbed my kids to do it with them. I felt awesome when they did it to me so I could only imagine how they were feeling when we finished. It took all of five minutes but I think stopping in a busy life to do this could change the way a person thinks of themselves and the dreams they have. Jack has two dreams at the moment for when he grows up. He either wants to build skyscrapers or be an animal doctor. He loves looking at buildings and he adores animals so he could absolutely rock at both. My job? I'm going to help him achieve his dreams by speaking positive into his life so that he thinks and believes he can be either.... or both!
Where can you incorporate speaking positively into your child's life? Around the dinner table eating dinner? Changing their nappy? Tucking them in bed? Driving in the car? Find some time because this thirty second conversation can have the biggest impact on your child for the rest of their life. They will never forget it either.
© The Realistic Mum
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