Monday, August 6, 2012

The Power of Words

I see this and it makes me ashamed of some of the things that I have said to my kid. Things I've said in the heat of intense frustration, anger. Not that I've ever said anything abusive to either of my boys. But I absolutely have said things that I wouldn't want them to say to anyone else. And particularly things I absolutely wouldn't want them to ever say to themselves.

I remember the exact moment when I decided I was a lousy speller and always would be. It's the one and only time I ever remember my father doing any kind of school work with me. I was maybe 7. It was a word find, and I was struggling (for whatever reason - probably because it was dinner time and/or I simply found it boring). He said, out of frustration by my inattention, "are you so stupid that you can't even do something as simple as this??!!". And instantly I shut down. And I knew there was something wrong with me, that I couldn't accomplish this obviously easy task.

In 6th grade I got an F in Spelling. It's the only F I've ever gotten. To this day the tape that plays in my head, and promptly comes out my mouth whenever anyone asks how something is spelled, is "I can't spell".  It's an immediate response. And even though I can rationally explain to myself that I am indeed capable of spelling, this belief, well, it persists.

This saying, to me, says it all. I'm not saying I don't struggle with this, because heaven knows I do. Which, really, is why I posted it. I need this reminder. I need to have this reminder play through my head before I react in frustration and say something I shouldn't to my children. I need to have this reminder even in the moments I'm not frustrated. I need to be reminded that what I say does matter to them. Even when I think they aren't listening. They are listening.

Today's Lesson:
The things we say stick. Particularly when they're said by someone who is important in our lives. Someone we love. Someone we trust. What we say matters. What we say becomes the tape that plays. It becomes the inner voice our children hear. All. The. Time.

And the voice I want my children to hear is one that says "I am loved. I am loving. I am capable. I am compassionate. I know how to make good decisions. I am trustworthy. I am intelligent. I am good.". Because all of those things are so very true.


Peg said...

Thank you I need that reminder :)

Emms said...

Such a great post. I try so hard to be positive in things I say and I know I'm not always great. This is a great reminder.

Elizabeth said...

Wow. Great reminder! Thanks for sharing!

AS said...

I remember how much anything my dad said to me mattered, and I'm so sorry that yours had that impact on you. You're absolutely right that it's so easy to say something like that in a moment of frustration and not realize how much it could stick. I keep reading about how telling children they're smart actually inhibits motivation, and that makes it extra difficult to figure out how to talk to children about success and frustration. I'm finding that everything I knew as a teacher is turned upside down as a mom, and I'm already nervous for the years ahead!

Elizabeth said...

Yes, words do have so much power. I haven't said anything to Grayson I regret (yet) but I am so sorry and ashamed of things I said to my former students in moments of frustration. I wish so much I could take them back and hope they don't remember them long term :(

Motleymommy said...

oh my - how needed this reminder was.
My dad did a similar thing with me and math. I SUCK at math to this day.

We are struggling not with the things that are said at our house but the tone in which they are said. Then J gets in trouble for using tone.....ugh - vicious circle. Trying to break it.

Alex said...

What a great reminder. This parenting thing - what an awesome responsibility. Everything we do, everything we say, we are watched by our children.

Jenn and Casey said...

What a great reminder. Going to have to get a print of that quote for my next office!!! You are creating a beautiful inner voice for your babies, I have no doubt.