Words have the power to wound or lift our hearts. This isn’t new news. Of course, the challenge is when you are small and new to the world — the words you hear help shape your self-esteem and ultimately, worldview.
Since I specialize in helping highly sensitive children thrive, oftentimes I spend time guiding children to “let go” of the words they’ve been called, from “brat” to “bonehead.” Said differently, we flip the script. I’ve helped a young boy, Tommy, begin to see himself as cautious and careful, instead of believing “You are a wimp.” These are positive traits that were initially slammed into him as negative.
Of course, we are all a work in progress, and we make mistakes. That’s okay. The point is to be a bit more mindful about the words that we let slip off our tongues into our children’s hearts.
To help with that, I have included the top 10 worst parenting words (without regard to curses) that have slipped into everyday conversation that I would love to see evaporate.
2. Picky (fussy)
6. Problem Child
8. Drama Queen
Every single one of these words has a positive counterpart. Whether it’s changing “picky” to “discerning” or “selective,” the point is that when we 100 percent decide to frame things in a more optimistic light, we can reduce the likelihood of low self-esteem flourishing. Because frankly, children build their worlds with your words.
Shakespeare probably put it best when he said: “The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants.”
Maureen Healy is an award-winning author, popular speaker, and leader in how to help highly sensitive children thrive. She’s appeared on Disney’s “The Fatherhood Project” as a regular guest and worked closely with Fortune 100 companies such as Crayola to deepen their awareness of children’s sensitivity, creativity and joy. Follow her on Twitter.
This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.