I came across this quote the other day: "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice".
As someone who is in constant battle with my own inner voice, this quote struck a chord deep within me, so I wrote it on a rock and placed it on my kitchen table where I can read it every day!
It also got me to thinking about the words we use when talking to or describing our children and students. When I was in the classroom full time, I made a concerted effort to use positive words instead of negative ones. I have tried to remember as many as I can to share here, but there are myriad others to consider:
- Instead of "bossy", we might describe a child as a "leader"
- Rather than "nosy", we can describe this child as "inquisitive"
- Instead of "hyper", we might describe a child as "athletic" or "active"
- Rather than "lazy", we can describe this child as "meticulous"
- Instead of "distractable", we might describe a child as a "multi-tasker"
We also have to be conscious of positive labels we put on children. Just because we think a descriptor is a compliment, does not mean they will agree.
Or, when all we focus on is one aspect of a child, this can quickly become a stigma.
One example of this was a Vietnamese student I had a few years ago. Traditionally, people view individuals of Asian descent as being "smart", and this boy was no exception. Sadly, he grew so tired of having to live up to this expectation that he began to purposefully fail his classes. Realizing what was happening, I tried to recognize and nurture other aspects of his personality, such as his humor. To tap into his humorous side, I put him in charge of choosing a weekly idiom for which he and two other classmates would act out in a skit. Being recognized for something other than his intelligence, my student forgot he was trying to fail and, once again, performed to his ability.
These reflections came at the perfect time for me to share my ruminations with the Slice of Life community over at Two Writing Teachers. You can visit their website to read more slices or to share your own! Before you do, though, feel free to share any word changes you can think of to help us speak more positively to our children...