The Power of a Parent’s Words

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Time and time again I see, in my office, the effects of harsh words said in anger. It might be a child, a teen, a husband or a wife, but the effect is always the same. If the words are uttered by a loved one, the recipient is devastated. I have addressed this topic before, but it is so important, especially for children.

Children and adolescents are developing their sense of self, and the words of a parent carry a tremendous amount of power. If we think of the child’s self-image as a glass statue, imagine that every critical comment makes a crack in the glass. Once the words are spoken, the crack is there. Saying we did not really mean it is helpful, but the crack is still there.

If we call a child stupid, an idiot, or even tell them they are bad, they will either believe it is true, or feel resentful and disrespected because we said it. If we tell a child they are hopeless, and will never amount to anything, that is like throwing a big boulder in their path. If they experience a setback in life they may see that as confirmation that they are hopeless, and may not even try again.

Contrast this with telling a child our love is unconditional, we believe in him or her, that everyone makes mistakes and its okay, as long as we learn from them. Think how they feel when we tell them there is no problem that cannot be solved, and that they can do or be whatever they choose. How about the reassurance that we well always be there for them: to cheer them on, or to catch them when they fall.

Parents have the strongest influence on children than anyone. This is a power that should be used wisely, and carefully.

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