Parents should not hesitate to use positive words, even when their child is acting differently. Positive words from supportive parents are undoubtedly powerful.
It is even more crucial to raise resilient children in these difficult times. According to research by the Center on the Development Child at Harvard University, the most important factor in developing resilience is the presence of at least one supportive adult in a child’s life.
Are you the adult your child needs? Are your positive words more important than your negative ones?
Although perfection is not possible as a parent, the tone and words that parents use can profoundly impact a child’s self-esteem. A newly-minted therapist, and father to three imperfectly grown children, I reflected on the power of positive words while walking through a park near home and how my words might have affected my children.
A young father impatiently urged his son, aged three years old, to leave behind the small boulder at the park entrance. The boy was anxious and needed to go.
As I passed them, the father said, “I don’t know why he must pull his pants down.”
Instantly, I felt compassion for the boy. Was he ashamed of not being able to pee like an older boy, or did he feel embarrassed?
Are the actions and words of the father conscious or subconscious? Is it important?
It doesn’t matter if the father’s words made his son feel unsafe or shameful. The most concerning thing is that these feelings could lead to attachment problems between fathers and sons–a breakdown in the emotional bond that is the foundation of parent-child relationships.
Positive words are uplifting
After witnessing the interaction between father and son, my attention shifted to a mother with her young son.
Mother and son enjoyed nature while walking on a dock, fishing poles in their hands, and chatting together. I asked the boy if he had caught any fish. I asked the mother to speak up using positive words and tone. “We are not fishing today, and we are just casting!” My son cast four more times!
The smile on the little boy’s face was radiant, and he was beaming with pride. He seemed secure and protected. He was praised for his actions.
I don’t know which little boy will have a happier family life. I don’t know which boy will be more secure. However, I do know that one boy was elevated, and one boy was deflated by the tone and words of his parents.
Notice if you can lift your child next time you have a conversation with him. Notice if you judge your child.
John Bowlby, a psychologist, wrote that “Humans have an inborn tendency to form strong affectional attachments (attachments).” The threat of separation from these attachments can cause emotional distress, sadness, or severe depression.
Reflecting on my fatherhood, I can’t help but notice how often my words negatively impacted my children. I wish I had known then what I now know. I would have taken the time to slow down and think more about the effects of my words and tone on my children.
Hope has psychological benefits
Hope is a favourite word because of its positive effect on children.
Handbook of Positive Psychology – Martin E. P. Seligman stated, “We have discovered there are human strengths which act as buffers against psychological illness.” Hope is one of these.
Consider hope and the behaviour of children when they feel hopeful. What is their reaction to positive words of encouragement?
Parents can encourage children’s cognitive function by using positive words. Negative words can cause brain dysfunction in children.
Yes, words have power!
Different people have different meanings of words
Others can interpret positive words as negative.
John Lennon’s Imagine song is a good example of this phenomenon. According to reports, Lennon asked his audience to envision a place without possessions and religion. This song is beautiful and positive to many.
This song might be offensive to some because it envisions a world without religion, heaven, or possessions.
Children may give words different meanings than adults. Parents should be able to see how their child interprets their words. This is important as they seek to build a supportive, loving relationship with their child. You can confirm that you meant your words by noting a change in a child’s body language or mood when you thought they were encouraging them.
Seven Tips to Use Positive Words With Children
How can you harness the power of positive words and help your children become resilient, creative, imaginative, self-aware, resourceful and honest adults? Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to what your children say.
- Ask your children to explain what the word means.
- Be present. Be present.
- Positive words can have a powerful impact on cognitive development in children.
- Be aware of the impact that negative words can have on your child’s brain function.
- Recall what it was like being a child.
- Live from your heart.