“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” Peggy O’Mara www.TheSilverPenn.com
During a recent search on Pinterest, I stumbled over this quote causing me to stop and reflect on its’ implications for the families in our family based service. How do we talk to our children? What does their inner voice say? I pondered on what many have reported about their childhood. They “had their parent’s voice in their head.” That voice assisted in decision making, assured them of their parent’s love, and reminded them to maintain family values. You may remember your parent’s affirmations or negative comments that support or discourage you each day.
In the world of psychology, this is referred to as having “internalized the parent.” As in carrying your parent’s presence with you wherever you go. What does your child’s inner voice say? 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. One adult operates from her mom’s words, “you only have one speed and that is slow.” 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.
For our family based program, we developed parent handouts to prompt positive statements parents can use to encourage their children. I would like to share a few simple ideas with you. A word of caution: a child will not believe your words if his/her experience of you does not match the words.
Find words to convey to your child:
1. My parent thinks I can do this.
2. My parent thinks I am good.
3. My parent enjoys being with me.
4. My parent loves me unconditionally.
What are you saying to your child that will be come their inner voice?