How many times have you told your child to watch his or her mouth?
Now, how many times have you checked your own mouth when talking to your children? Sounds absurd, right? Hear me out...
I believe that sometimes parents let things slip when talking to children without thinking about the lasting impact that it can have.
So, today I have three things for you to watch when speaking to your child
1. Watch what you say about yourself
Your child learns how to think about themselves and their bodies by listening and watching you. I know it can be tough but try to restrain from speaking negatively about yourself in front of your children.
One of my favorite visuals of this is from one of my favorite shows, This Is Us. Most of you are probably familiar but there is a particular scene that sticks out in my mind. Mandy Moore plays the mother, Rebecca. Rebecca is pretty thin in size but stands in front of a mirror criticizing what she sees. Kate, her daughter, is only about 8 years old but overweight and watching, unbeknownst to Rebecca. I don't think I have o go into detail about how this makes Kate feel...here she is, truly struggling with her weight and being made fun of by her peers and sees her petite mother criticizing her already thin body. If Rebecca's thin shape is "fat", in Kate's eyes she must be really "fat".
I have had my own similar experiences with this and now that I am more aware I try to quickly change my mindset but it is difficult to hear and watch without it impacting my own view of myself. What are you teaching your children when you speak about yourself? To be confident and proud of who they are, who God created them to be? Or to hate parts of who they are?
2. Watch how you respond to their mistakes
You make mistakes, right? Well, so do your children.
Do you extend grace to yourself? You should - just as you should extend grace to your children.
This is in no way saying that discipline should not exist - it is necessary. However, are you punishing based on the inconvenience that it caused you, how upset it made you, how much it hurt your own pride, or to truly teach a lesson?
Discipline should be about teaching, not about hurting a child's pride or self-esteem.
So, even in punishing your words should be gracious and affirming (to them, not the behavior). You might yell, you might scream, but at some point a more calm conversation should be had following the initial punishment. The way that you respond to a child's mistakes will shape the way they respond to criticism (positive or negative) outside of the home.
3. Watch how you respond to their pain and emotions
Telling a child that something doesn't matter when it comes to their feelings and experiences should never come out of your mouth.
I hear this often when children are trying to cope with their peers saying negative things about them or not wanting to be their friend and parents respond by saying that it doesn't matter. But it absolutely does! Peer relationships are extremely important to development. It seems minuscule to you as an adult but think about how it affected you as child...this is a time when they are learning about how others are in the world and it can be heartbreaking.