Following up on our 'Words Hurt!' blog...
It is so important to think before we speak and remember - children hear everything! What we say often stays with them and becomes their ‘inner voice’ that they use to help them in situations or make decisions. So, make sure that they hear the voice you really want them to hear.
How often do you hear yourself saying these phrases (be honest!)?
And some tips on what you could say instead….
1) Blame. “You are driving me crazy.”
When you say this, it is normally you that is feeling stressed or overwhelmed and your child’s behaviour is just a trigger. Remember: it is never their ‘fault’. They are not purposefully trying to drive you crazy. It is the situation that is crazy and parenting and life is tough!
Instead try: “I am really finding this situation/your behaviour difficult right now. I think we both need to take 5…” (and then take a break!)
2) Gaslighting. “Oh, you’re fine. Look at everyone else having fun. Why can’t you go have fun?”
Gaslighting is a psychological term that is used when someone is manipulated into doubting themselves. It’s quite common that we, as parents, react to a child in this way – by insisting that they are fine when they are clearly not feeling fine at all. This type of comment can make a child very confused. One part of them is feeling one way, but they are getting a message from someone they trust that ‘nothing is wrong’. This will lead to them having trust issues in the future and becoming quite a vulnerable adult.
Instead try: “I saw that you hit your head. It must be sore but you aren’t hurt - so you are safe to carry on…”
3) Guilt. “See what you are doing? Now you’re getting your sister upset.”
We are all ‘guilty’ of using the guilt trip on someone – but we need to be really careful with this one. Using guilt to change feelings doesn’t solve the problem and only makes the child self-conscious about their feelings. It can also make them hide their feelings in the future so as not to ‘upset’ you or anyone else. But emotions can’t stay hidden forever and they will eventually come out and often in even more aggressive or disruptive ways in the future.
Instead try: “I see that you are frustrated and that your sister is frustrated too. Let’s try and work through this together…”
More tips in 2 weeks’ time…..