Friday, June 6, 2008

More on Toxic Words

Toxic words cut into the ego even when we use them on ourselves so imagine how much worse it is on a child who looks up to you and wants to please you. I mentioned some of them in my last blog but there are others. Let me list the words and how they cut.
but - negates what you said before so even if it was praise you have just taken it back or worse
if - presupposes you may not succeed setting YOU up for failure be it a child or yourself
would have - draws attention to what didn't happen nullifying what did happen
should have - not only draws attention but implies guilt because it didn't happen
could have - tries to take credit for what didn't happen and ignore what did happen
try - not only presupposes failure it gives permission to fail!
might - leaves options for the listener not definitive answers
can't or don't - forces focus on the opposite of what you want
True story:
A boy and his cousin were playing in the yard and climbing trees when a storm blew in. The aunt called out to her son "Don't fall!" while the boy's father yelled "Hang on!" The boy hung on tightly to the limb and was ok but the cousin fell and broke his arm because the brain first has to figure what is supposed to be done before it can interpret not to do it.
On a little league team there was a pop ball to an area of the field with the weakest player. Dad yelled at him "Don't drop it!" but the coach yelled "Catch it!" What do you think happened? Well luckily the coach was louder and closer and the kid caught the ball. They didn't win the game but think how proud that boy was that he actually caught the ball.
If you get into the habit of watching what you say to yourself maybe you will be better about toxic words to your child so both of you will benefit. If you stop wondering what if or I should have after making decisions you will find you are less indecisive as well as that you have stopped tearing your ego down.