- “You are stupid”
- “You’re ugly”
- “You’ll never amount to anything”
- “You’re dumb”
Words spoken harshly or hastily can still affect us years after the incident.
In a rash moment of anger or frustration we, as parents, can say something that will impact and change our child’s self-esteem and life forever.
What we are told about ourselves as kids becomes our identity. It affects our thought life. It becomes our self talk – that which we say to ourselves, especially in times of hurt or disappointment.
It becomes what we believe about ourselves. It becomes our identity.
It impacts our behaviour. It impacts how we treat others and ourselves.
What we think about ourselves influences everything.
When our kids are little, a lot of what they think about themselves comes from what significant people in their life tell them about who they are. When we say “You’re beautiful”, they truly believe that they are beautiful. When we say “You are strong”, they believe that they are strong.
Unfortunately, along the way, negative words are spoken, usually in moments of frustration, anger, hurt, disappointment, embarrassment.
Thus, the words we say are powerful. The words we say can build up or crush and tear down.
Our words become their self-talk – what they think about themselves.
Whenever we speak, we are releasing the potential for positive or negative effect into the atmosphere. Our words have the power to create, to form and fashion something out of nothing and to change outcomes. In Genesis 1, God spoke and the world was created. He has given us the same creative power that by the words we speak, we create outcomes, good or bad.
Do you speak life or death?
God’s Word does not return empty and our words don’t either.
The Bible says a lot about our use of words:
- Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
- Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
- Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
- Romans 4:17 “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
This is a subject I often chat with my kids about and my children can sometimes be heard reminding me “Mum, be careful what you say as it will come true”.
When we say negative things about ourselves eg “I’m an idiot, I shouldn’t have done that” it releases the potential for me to think like an idiot, to see myself like an idiot and to become an idiot.
How has self talk impacted your life? Your beliefs about yourself?
I’ll never forget a number of years ago when Josh and I were going over his spelling words for his visual and auditory processing exercises. My frustration level was rising and Josh suddenly stopped and said, “Please don’t get angry and say something horrible to me.” This made me stop and have a serious think about what I was communicating to him. I was reacting out of shame. At the previous appointment, Josh had completely forgotten all the work we had done and the behavioural optometrist asked us not to come back if he couldn’t do it the next appointment as it was a waste of time. I had felt ashamed and that emotion was then impacting my behaviour when we next were practicing my son’s spelling words.
There is so much power in your words. We can take precautions when we are frustrated and angry to not speak, to take a few minutes time out. But there may be a time when we say something hurtful or life impacting in a negative way.
What can we do when we have hurt our children with our words:
- Apologise. Not just say sorry but accept full responsibility.
- Realise that it takes a lot more times of saying the positive for them to then believe it.
- Lead our kids through a prayer to break all agreement with the lies. You may also need to do this for yourself. An example is “I break all agreements with lies and negative thoughts, both known and unknown. I also break all agreements with assumptions & perceptions that have come about through believing the lies. Please forgive me God for partnering with the lie. God, what would you like to give me, show me or tell me in exchange for the lie?”
Perhaps try some new strategies to help your home be a more positive place.
- Place encouraging posters around the kitchen and living area about the words we speak.
- Perhaps have ‘fine’ jar for everyone who speaks a negative word.
- Try a ‘thankful’ jar instead and place a marble or coin or something symbolic in it and when it gets full, celebrate doing something special to recognise the occasion of having spoken many positive affirmations.
I encourage you to have a new normal in your life and at home. No negative words. Only kind and positive words allowed. It all starts with you!!
What do you want your kids to hear from you about who you believe they are?