Being a parent is exhausting. It often takes all that we have to care far everyone else, leaving us with scraps for ourselves.
And being low on energy may leave us short on patience and full of frustration.
I usually find myself reprimanding my kids for the things they are doing wrong. But I often forget to remind them of all the things they are doing right. It’s much easier to focus on our negative experiences.
It’s no different than, say, restaurant reviews. People are much more likely to give feedback on a negative experience than a good one. It’s literally the way our brains are wired. According to The New York Times:
The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events – and use stronger words to describe them – than happy ones.
But it’s vital to speak life into our children. The voice a child hears from their parents from birth shapes they way they perceive themselves later in life. The way we talk to our kids becomes their inner voice. According to earlytrauma.com:
Often times out of frustration, parents may say hurtful words without understanding the long-term impact. Simple statement like: “That’s stupid.” and “How many times must I tell you?” Convey negative meanings that the child carries (or internalizes) with them. “That’s stupid” may become translated into “I am stupid.” and “How many times” equates to “how dumb am I?” Each questions the child’s worth and abilities. No parent intentionally wants their child to internalize negative beliefs but may think these words will motivate their child to improve behaviors. As if criticism is a motivator.
Last year, this video of a dad doing morning affirmations in the bathroom mirror with his daughter circulated the internet:
Positive affirmations like these can help enhance your child’s self-esteem, combat negative self-talk and make children secure in themselves. I found this website that gives four simple tips for teaching your kids affirmations.
But you don’t even have to do this to make an impact. It’s as simple as changing your language and being intentional. Throw out the criticisms and add some affirming phrases to build your child up everyday, not just when they do something special, like:
- I love you
- I’m proud of you
- You’re smart
- You’re beautiful/handsome
- You did such a great job
- I’m proud to be your mom/dad
- You’re so brave
- You give the best hugs
- You are important
- I love spending time with you
Although praise isn’t everything, it is necessary for healthy emotional development. And it’s something I’m determined to make sure I do more of.
How do you build your children up on a daily basis? What suggestions do you have for those who want to start?