I started thinking about the way my children speak upon hearing my 2 year old, yes 2 year old, refer to something as “sick”…meaning good, great, really cool! He then began hitting a little white plastic golf ball with a brightly coloured plastic golf stick and let out a delighted “skills!”….”mum! skills!”. Now I am well aware this is pretty much direct mimicking of his older ‘tween’ brothers, and did sound pretty cute, but it started me questioning the language in general that our children are using. I have already written about the influence of technology and chat speak acronyms , but there are other aspects of their speech that may need to be reigned in a little.
We know that the way we speak to ourselves, the inner voice in our heads has a large impact on our feelings, emotions and behaviours. It makes sense too then, that the voice we use throughout our day may also affect such emotions, feelings and behaviours.
Often we hear our children talking in extremes and exaggeration.
“I hate her”, “this is the worst day ever” “It is the most disgusting thing in the whole world” Can this extreme language lead to extreme feelings? Do some of these words and phrases stop them from keeping things in perspective? If it is “the worst day ever” when in fact it was just a little boring/annoying/frustrating does this mean they are less able to cope than if they simply said “Today was pretty boring but that’s OK because tomorrow will be better”.
If so then there is certainly a case for us to try and reign in some of the language they use in order for them to gain that perspective and tone down a catastrophe.
Therefore it may help for us to pick them up on some of this language and remind them that
“I’m furious” may in fact mean “I’m pretty annoyed but…..”
“I can’t do it” could be replaced with “I am going to find this hard but I will give it a go”
“I hate him” can be substituted with “It makes me upset when he does….”
I certainly believe that those that are more flexible in their thinking and their approach to things tend to enjoy far greater mental health and remain less stressed with greater inbuilt coping skills. So it is important that we remind them that whilst some things may be a pain in the butt….they are very rarely the end of the world!
As adults we can all be pretty guilty of this as well, so it is a good to be aware of how we are talking too. Just as my 2 year old is mimicking my older boys, he will also be mimicking me. (and no I don’t use the language “sick” and “skills” so I am certain it is not me he is getting that from). And he does mimic everything so swearing has to be abandoned!
Have a listen to some of the phrases your kids use. Are they catastrophising situations? Do they always talk in extremes?