According to psychology expert Kendra Cherry, “Self-concept is the image that we have of ourselves. How exactly does this self-image form and change over time? This image develops in a number of ways, but is particularly influenced by our interactions with important people in our lives.”
Our children listen to us. What we say, and how we say it, plays a huge role in how they view themselves.
As parents, we want to do everything we can to help our children have the best possible life experiences. Since our communication influences how our children view themselves, we should be careful with how we say things. Try these suggestions for creating positive interactions with your children and help them develop a healthy self-image.
Instead of saying “You’re driving me crazy!” say “Your actions are frustrating me.”
This separates the person from the action. You love the person; however, you dislike the action. You can clearly communicate to your child that his or her actions are frustrating. Actions can be changed without implying that something is wrong with the person.
Instead of saying “I hope you’re proud of yourself!” say “I am sure you are as disappointed as I am.”
Instead of shaming your child, you can let them know you are disappointed and that you are certain that he or she is disappointed as well. Showing empathy when something doesn’t go well goes a lot farther than shaming someone.
Instead of saying “Shut up!” say “I need you to be quiet.”
When we tell our kids to shut up we are setting an example by telling them it’s okay to tell others to shut up. This is hurtful and rude. Instead, ask your child to simply be quiet. One comment is a demand, while the other sounds more like a request. Most people comply better to a request than a demand.
Instead of saying “Next time do better!” say “I know you realize how important it is to do your best.”
Most likely your child knows when they haven’t done as well as they would have liked. Instead of reprimanding him or her, try to be encouraging. You can validate your child by offering encouragement and believing in them.
Instead of saying “I promise,” say “I will do my best.”
When we make promises to our children, they expect us to follow through on them. When those promises get broken, children tend to remember it even if we had a very good excuse. When we say we will do our best they know we will try very hard to do something, but that not all things are possible.
Instead of saying “Let me do it,” say “Would you like some help?”
It’s important that we let our children try and fail. We empower them by letting them work through things themselves. We are available to help, and it’s better for them to ask than for us to take over.
Instead of saying “Leave me alone!” say “I need some space.”
Our words can be very cutting. Sometimes we lash out at our children during moments of weakness. Instead of telling our children that they’re a burden, we should tell them that we need something that only we can provide ourselves. This takes the focus off the child and makes them realize that we need something they can respect. They aren’t the problem; we just need to work through something alone.
Instead of saying “Don’t cry,” say “It will be okay.”
It’s okay to cry. It’s a natural reaction we all have at times. Children need to feel validation and comfort when they are upset. We can assure them things will be okay and help them work through it without controlling their actions.
Instead of saying “You are so smart,” say “I love how hard you work” or “I admire your ability to understand.”
When we tell our children how smart they are, we put pressure on them to live up to our expectations. They might avoid things that make them not look smart. We need to foster their work ethic and ability to learn without placing undue expectations on them.
Instead of saying “Hurry up!” say “Let’s get moving.”
When we tell our kids to hurry up, that’s usually when things start slowing down. When we take the pressure off them and place emphasis on the entire family trying to work toward the same goal, everyone’s motivation improves.
Featured photo credit: Mother and Daughter/Gagilas via imcreator.com