I’m not sure when Peggy O’Mara said, “The way we talk to our child becomes their inner voice.” The quote is viral on the parenting front. When I first read this, I honestly thought, “Geez, another responsibility.” I know that our words can’t be taken back. To think that what I say to them daily will be what they hear for the rest of their life seems like a heavy charge.
I remember testing the statement up against my own experience. I’m not sure that all of my self-talk can be chalked up to how my parents talked to me. I still hear statements from my Drivers Ed teacher while I’m driving. I still hear my coaches voice and the things she told us when I’m working out. My Grandma’s cooking advice still plays out to me in the kitchen. My aunt’s gardening advice comes to me when I am in the flower bed. I hear my favorite librarian at the library. Equally, my parent’s instructions still play in my head throughout the day as I am encountering life.
My inner voice can be one of my worst enemies. I have had to do A LOT of personal development where an inner voice is concerned, so I am willing to try almost anything to save my children from this same experience.
I interviewed family members on the topic, and everyone agreed that they still hear and say to themselves what they heard growing up. My husband, however, says he does not have any experience with this.
I have taken the time to investigate and test the hypothesis in my own day to day life, and I want to challenge the line. I want to declare that I believe it to be, The Way People Talk to Children Becomes Their Inner Voice. This is one area that I do not believe to be the parent’s sole responsibility. A-n-yone who has contact with children can impact them for the rest of their lives in many areas. In this case, we will stick to self-talk. Think back to how many times you have seen someone on Oprah crying and saying, “He told me…” “She told me I…”
This tells me that not only do we need to be intentional about how we are talking to our kids but how others talk to our kids. We can only control ourselves, so our kids will need to be resilient. I want us to focus on how we can be intentional about positively impacting our children with our talk.
One thing we are guaranteed, life is hard. How children perceive the hardness can be positively influenced by us.
A Football Life
Before I had kids I was in love with a series called A Football Life. I enjoy documentaries and I especially enjoy the organization of the biographies on A Football Life. One of the greatest impacts this show had on me was the confirmation that affirmations and how we talk to children are worth paying attention to. In my experience with children, my own or my students, I know that kids do NOT care how much you know until they know how much you care. Once they know how much you care, your words can become GOLD to them. Impactful without a doubt.
What intrigued me most on A Football Life is that players and coaches would be asked what it was that pushed them to exceed like few other humans on Earth do. Time and time again these men answered that they had a statement that a coach, father, mother, uncle, teacher, or a pastor told them when they were young that they played over and over in their minds throughout the years. Some of the people that impacted these athletes including their fathers – they only knew for a day. Some of them they knew for years.
These men spoke of affirmations such as:
- You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with.
- Winners are not people who never fail. They are people who never quit.
- To be a better player than you’ve ever been, you have to do something you’ve never done.
- Stop making excuses and start making things happen.
- Don’t aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team.
- Don’t let a win get to your head or a loss get to your heart.
Over the years that I watched the show, the men would speak of unimaginable struggles and pain. They would go on to mention how these affirmations carried them through these times. They believed the repetition of these statements was one of the main influencers of their success. These stories gave me the confirmations that kids need affirmations.
I have gone on to teach my boys affirmations, and it has amazed me how they use them. Even at 2 and 5 years old, a child knows when to use:
- Winners never quit. Quitters never win.
- Anything worth doing is worth doing badly until you get it right.
- If your mouth is open you’re not listening.
- It’s not what happens to you in life but how you react to it that matters.
Why are positive affirmations so important during childhood?
On Planet of Success, Steve Mueller says,
Research has shown that we all learn our belief systems as little children. It is the very belief system that functions as the foundation of our entire life. This means that adults move through life trying to experience situations that match their beliefs learned from childhood. But it also means that we are often bound to the limiting beliefs learned during childhood. These negative thought patterns can be attributed to childhood conditioning or unconsciously picking up negative beliefs.
For this very reason, it is so important to help your children establish a supportive belief system showing them a positive attitude to life. By doing so we can help our children to internalize good values and positive beliefs, which allows them to develop confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem.
We have the power to positively influence how a child perceives the world. I urge you to be intentional about using affirmations with your child. In my experience of using affirmations, children don’t have to have a ton of affirmations memorized, just a few key affirmations to rely on.
I research affirmations according to areas I see my children needing intervention such as perseverance, self-confidence, fear of failure – whatever comes up. I present the affirmation, have them repeat it, and I continue to use it often until I have confirmation that they own it. You will know the affirmation is theirs when you hear them saying it to themselves and to others.
Wrap It Up
I share 50 affirmations that I have learned over the years that have pushed me, my students, and my children to accomplish task or change behaviors and thinking patterns that likely would have become permanent. I urge you to print the PDF, 50 Affirmations to Positively Impact a Child’s Inner Voice, and use it with your own family. This list is not meant to have your child memorize all 50. The list is meant to be a springboard for your family to choose the affirmations that they need and use to their benefit.
If your children are old enough, let them choose their own affirmations. Have them make cards and posters and decorate them.
You can simply Google: Affirmations for (insert struggle here) if your children struggle with a topic I don’t cover on the list. You will have plenty of choices. If this is something you have not tried, I encourage you to give it a go. I believe you will be inspired by the results.
I’d love for you to share how you use affirmations or tell us how the talk from your childhood has impacted your inner voice in adulthood.
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