Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

The Power of Words on Children

This week I had a teenager in my office for a hypnosis session concerned that something bad would happen to his family. This young man was growing up in the midst of a possible divorce between his parents ; it was not a surprise that he feared something bad would happen to his family.

“You should hear my parents fighting,” he cried. “Sometimes I feel like they love each other, but they scream and threaten to divorce. One of these days they’ll probably go through with it.”

It scared him as he stated, “Where would I live? Would we have enough money? Would I see both Mom and Dad? Would I have to spend time in two homes? What about my friends?”  Yes, it scares him. He feared the breakup of his family. His fears were well founded.

But I received a better understanding of the tensions in the home when his mom arrived with his younger sister to pick him up. I could hear his mom commenting to his sister “you are a little brat,”

It is important to remember that children are never too young to understand. If a child has ears and can hear, the child comprehends what this means. It is not only a word – it is the tone in of the voice and the facial expression which give significance to the word or words. It is also body language;  the portrait conveys a negative message. We as adults need be attentive of the results from the words we select. Whether we want to transmit a specific message or not, this is something a parent or caregiver needs to consider. 

Speaking with Words of Strength

Speaking with Words of Strength is a way to communicate to your child or actually anybody using a positive outlook. You begin with a positive reinforced statement. For instance, “You look attractive, (handsome or good-looking) today. What made you choose a blue top?” I may not like that blue top, but I am getting a better understanding of the “why” for the choice. So I want to begin the conversation with an approach that’s going to make someone feel like I am here with you, you are with me, I respect you, and I have a question. 

Do Not Label Children

Do not label children, with words that do not have a negative suggestion – such as “You are the smart one” – which can have an the opposing effect. Many times a burden may be put on a child that is unconsciously too much for them, but they still attempt to live up to that label, because children, at the completion of their day, really do want to make their parent happy, love them, and do what is right. When you pick out one characteristic, for instance, “You are pretty,” or “You are the smarter one,” you also disorganize your child’s thought processes by not allowing him or her to consider other possibilities. So while these observations are a good strength-based comment, there are assortments of other words you can say that are strength-based. 


You Never Listen 

When a child hears a parent say to him, “You never listen” — “never” is a pretty strong word. Are you sure you mean never, because to a child who’s a concrete thinker, “never” means “You never listen.” That’s not strength-based. There are other ways to say that. Try saying, “Talk to me. What’s going on?” So that they know that there’s some give in that space and that you’re connecting. 

Stop Being Such a Baby!

First of all, we’re talking about small children, so it’s OK to be a baby if you are a baby, so they need permission to be themselves. You’re sending a message that you’re judging them and you don’t like their behavior, and you give them no room again. They feel harsh, so there are better ways to say that. Reconnect with your child by saying, “We’ll talk about it.” But give them a space to get themselves together. Respect them for that, and say, “Come get me when you’re ready.” 

Speaking with Words of Strength without Labeling

It’s essential to remember positive reinforcement, the tone of your voice, a smile, open body language, and Words of Strength. You do not need to add adjectives which might place a negative influence on a situation. “How was your day?” does not mean, “I heard you had a bad day.” You can genuinely ask, “How was your day?” Allow a moment for an answer. Perhaps there is another perception. It is about respect, self-esteem and positive, words of strength.  



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