‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’ is a powerful quote which has been popping up on my newsfeed a lot lately. It is so powerful (and so popular) because it is, of course, true. I briefly touched on this subject in one of my previous posts on discipline (read it here) when I mentioned what I had been told by an educator during one of the moms and baby classes I had attended. Namely, that children under the age of five cannot form an opinion about themselves and instead internalise their caregivers’ opinions. Once they have the ability to form an opinion of themselves, they use these internalised views as their main reference point.
It is because of this that I have started having three daily conversations with my Bean, based on principles I would like him to internalise. These are values which I believe will help him to face life’s countless challenges, to become successful and to be a good person.
Although our conversations at the moment are fairly one-sided and usually consist of me talking and explaining while Bean throws in the odd word (or the occasional ‘hmmmmm’), I am laying the groundwork for future conversations to come. Instead of simply telling him, ‘you are thoughtful’, for example, I try and find examples in our everyday lives which showed him acting thoughtful, and I have a conversation about that moment and why it is so important.
You are Intelligent
I have met countless people who act unintelligent when in fact they are not. Whether they do this because they really believe that they are not smart or whether they feel insecure in the presence of other intelligent people, I do not know. I, however, want Bean to be secure in the knowledge that he is intelligent, that he is strong and that he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to. He must be confident in his own ability and not self-sabotage his achievements because of self-doubt.
You are Brave
Whether it is climbing onto a new jungle gym as a child or investing his time and money into a new business venture as an adult, I want him to be brave. Yes, life is risky and life can be scary, but no one gets anywhere without taking a risk or making that difficult decision to change something in one’s life, to explore and grow, to learn a new skill. I want Bean to know that it is ok to be scared, but that he must trust in his ability and that he must be brave.
You are Kind
The world would be a better place if we were all just a little bit kinder. I want to teach Bean to have an open heart and an open mind, I want him to believe in the goodness of others (without being gullible) and I want him to treat others with compassion.
Life can be hard and sometimes we need to be hard because of it, but this does not mean we have to be mean or judgemental. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. The German word for ‘kindness’ is ‘liebenswürdig’ and directly translated it means ‘worthy of love’. When we are kind, we are giving love and, in turn, are becoming worthy of it.
As parents, we need to take care of our children’s emotional needs as much as their physical needs, and that includes giving them the confidence, together with a sound value-driven reference system, to face and deal with the difficulties which are inevitably going to cross their paths.
What important conversations are you having with your kids?