Updated: Dec 6, 2021
As parents, we are role models for the way our kids view the world. Early parent-child relationships form the templates for relationships that children will form later in life, so we want to make sure that they are positive ones!
Of course, we all love our kids. We want to do what is best for them.
So, how do we do that? One way we can help our kids to live their best lives is by positively influencing their inner monologue - or - the way they talk to themselves.
What is Self-Talk?
Self-Talk is your inner monologue. It consists of all the things that you mentally tell yourself during the day.
According to Healthline, "Self-talk is something you do naturally throughout your waking hours. People are becoming more aware that positive self-talk is a powerful tool for increasing your self-confidence and curbing negative emotions. People who can master positive self-talk are thought to be more confident, motivated, and productive."
As parents, the things that we say to our children can determine the ways that our children speak to themselves throughout their lives.
If we can become aware of the ways that our own self-talk influences our feelings and decisions, we can also become more intentional in the ways that we speak to our children.
Understanding Attachment Styles as a Basis for Children's Self Talk.
The way that children bond with parents early in life is called their Attachment Style (Huang, S (2020, Nov 03). Attachment styles. Simply Psychology https://www.simplypsychology.org/attachment-styles.html),
There are four attachment styles:
The goal of our parenting in the early years is to help children form a secure attachment, so that they will thrive later in life.
Secure attachment means that a child feels safe with their parents, and will explore their environment when the parents are near. The securely attached child also knows that their parents will come back when they leave. The securely attached child has their need for safety fulfilled by their parents.
Forming a secure attachment happens when parents are caring and responsive to their children.
One aspect of parental responsiveness is the way that we speak to our children.
The Way We Talk To Our Kids Matters.
The things that we say to our children repeatedly become the things that they will subconsciously say to themselves later in life. For example, If we always tell little Suzy that she is so pretty, she will grow up saying that to herself. If we tell little Johnny that he is a fast runner, he will say that to himself.
There are many positive things that we can tell our children, and praising them for things that they do well is very important.
Conversely, the bad things that we tell our children will stick with them too. Pretend that the same parent tells little Suzy that she is stupid, and little Johnny that he is annoying. Those are also messages that they will internalize later in life, especially if their parents are saying those things regularly.
So something to keep in mind when talking to kids, is to always frame statements in a positive manner, even when you are asking them to stop doing something. My toddler is a busy little thing, and this morning she was jumping around the living room, when I wanted to brush her hair. Instead of telling her, "Stop jumping around so I can brush your hair!" I said to her, "Please come here so I can brush your hair."
You may be surprised, but even a simple change in the way you phrase things can make a huge difference! Over time, the things you say to kids will become things that they say back to you. This is true for the good and the bad!
We all want the best for our kids, and want to shape their little minds in ways that will make them successful people later in life. If you are like me, you are always looking for ways to up your mom game, and reading up on the latest and greatest in parenting research.
Something I recently discovered is the importance of praising kids for effort instead of for ability, and the impact it can have on their performance on tasks.
I watched this video as part of a class that I was talking for work, and started putting the idea of praising hard work into action with my kiddo's. Now, my 4 year old will be working on some task and tell me proudly, "Look, I am working really hard on this!"
Hard work is something I always learned to value from my dad, and he taught me that if you work hard, and stay persistent, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. The positive messages from parents can stick with you through a lifetime.
Impacts of Negative Talk.
Just like positive things we say to our children become a part of their self-talk, so do negative things.
Before we can work on negative self-talk on the developing minds of our children, we need to bring our own self-talk patterns clearly into focus.
So, one way we can work on mitigating the negative self-talk we may have developed over a lifetime is by first learning to recognize the bad things we say to ourselves. If it is, "I am so bad at math." "My ass is so big." "I am so clumsy." Or anything else that we perpetually tell ourselves.
Once we recognize the negative self talk, we can begin to change it for ourselves. This helps us to be happier and more positive. It can also help to frame the inner monologue for our kids in a positive manner.
Kids are like little sponges soaking up information from all around them. If they hear us constantly criticizing ourselves, they will think that is a normal way to be. Kids accept what we do without question in many ways, because they have a tendency of being unaware of other ways of doing things than what they see modeled at home.
If we are moms that are constantly dieting for example, kids will think that is something natural. However, if we talk instead about healthy eating in a positive manner, kids will normalize that too.
It's not just how we talk to our kids that matters, but how we talk about ourselves within our kids hearing.
Increasing Our Positive Self-Talk
We can increase our positive self-talk in many ways, but one of my favorites is by using daily affirmations. I grew up in the 80's era of Positive Action in schools, so I have been using daily affirmations since I was in elementary school.
What are affirmations anyway? According to MindTools, "Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes."
When I was in the Positive Action program, the sample affirmation they would start us with every day was, "I am loveable and capable." Then, they would have us write our own. You can teach your kids to write affirmations that are relevant to their lives.
Affirmations are useful in countering our negative or limiting beliefs. So if your child thinks that they are bad at doing math, you could (besides teaching them math, of course) have them say the affirmation, "I am learning to be good at math."
For some more advice on using affirmations in your daily life, you can check out my video!
The Way We Talk to OURSELVES is Important Too.
By talking to ourselves in a more loving and accepting way, it will not only help us to be happier momma's, but help our children to be happier. They see the way we talk about ourselves, and they mirror that. So even if we are talking positively to our kids, we need to watch what we say about ourselves too, since that is an important reflection of our values.
I know a lot of times as moms we "sacrifice" our own happiness for the happiness of our kids, but in the long run that mostly just leads to burn-out. If we aren't happy, we can't devote the energy to our kids that we would like. So by taking a few minutes out of our busy day to say some affirmations, we can better both our own mindset, and the way we interact with our kids.
Happy moms raise happy kids.
Every day, we can work to build a better and happier life, both for ourselves, and for our kiddos.
For more information, you can check out these related blog posts.
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Let me know in the comments how you get your kids motivated to use positive self-talk! And, if this article resonates with you, please feel free to share on your socials!