Friday, March 18, 2011
Meaghan surprised me this week as we talked about the dentist. She remembered almost word for word what the dental assistant said to her about her good behaviour. She last went in July. For months she's carried around these few words spoken to her. I wonder how many times she's thought about those words and felt good about herself and her behaviour?
In thinking about how words stick with kids, I couldn't help but remember a Dr. Phil episode I watched when Meaghan was first born. (Don't hold against me the fact that I once watched Dr. Phil. That was almost 6 years and his large ego had nothing on today's ego. Back then, he did give out some good advice, once in a while.)
In the episode, Dr. Phil said that a kid hears the negative comments and remembers the negative comments. It takes many more positive comments to undo that one negative comment. That's not exactly how Dr. Phil said it, but that's the gist.
I've tried to remember that -- especially now as part of my quest for patience. I've tried to completely eliminate the off hand comments said in a moment of frustration that mean nothing to me beyond that moment, but can be gargantuan in the mind of a child.
What I find difficult is that I don't even know sometimes if I've said something untoward - because it has meant nothing to me. That's what bothers me. I quickly forget about the off hand comment, but Meaghan and Eamon won't.
(Admittedly, this is where Dr. Phil let me down. His guests that day were naturally at the far end of the spectrum, calling their kids "stupid", "dumb" and a variety of other offensive words. I would rather have heard more middle of the road comments that I may use not realizing the impact they may have.)
In an effort to undo some of the negative phrases I undoubtedly let slip from my lips, I try hard every day to talk up the positive. Not to over do the praise, but to make sure they both know when I've been pleased with their behaviour, or something else they've done. At bed time too, I try to end the day with a positive "secret" message for each of them that reminds them of at least one awesome thing they did that day that makes me so proud to be their mom.
I hope my positives are outweighing by a landslide my negatives. But who knows? Who really knows what sticks in their brains, and what doesn't. Hopefully my secret messages help.