How do You Speak to Your Child?

IMG_5564Last night, I read an inspiring story about Thomas Edison on Facebook. It made me cry, and I’m not entirely sure what this story touched in me.

The story went like this.

One day, Thomas Edison was sent home from school with a note to his mother. With tears in her eyes, his mother read the note out loud:

‘Your son is a genius. The School is too small for him and we don’t have enough good teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.’

Many years later when his mother died and Edison had become one of the greatest inventors of the century, he found a note among his mother’s papers. It was the note from the school which said:

‘Your son is addled [mentally ill]. We won’t let him come to school anymore.’

Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: ‘Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.’

This morning I was reading a book about tapping (EFT) by Jessica Ortner. Coincidentally (or not), the first thing I read was about a study conducted by cognitive neuroscientist Sara Bengtsson which discovered a link between expectations and performance.

The study was conducted with college students who were expected to pass some tests. One group was primed with affirmative messages like, ‘intelligent’, ‘clever’ and ‘smart’. The other group got negative messages like ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant’. The group that was primed with positive messages performed much better. More importantly, this group’s brain response to mistakes was different: the part of the brain which is responsible for self-reflection and recollection showed increased activity. In contrast, there was no increase in brain activity in students who got negative messages prior to the test.

What we tell our children is incredibly important. We can raise a genius or imbue a low self-esteem that holds them back later in life. Both of these stories point in that direction.

But to me, it’s equally important what we tell ourselves. Our negative self-talk can not only undermine our own self-worth, but also set an example to our children, because they often do as we do, not as we say.

So, here’s an invitation to examine your self-talk today. My test for negative self-talk is simple: would you talk to your child like that? If not, don’t beat yourself up – it only perpetuates this situation. Instead, see whether there is a way in which you could soothe your inner child today.

33 thoughts on “How do You Speak to Your Child?

  1. Beautiful, Gulara… in my therapeutic work with people, I realise it is nearly always about growing and cultivating a self loving inner voice… so hard to be in the world if we don’t have one. I call it the Kindness Project and have a few of them running at the moment. Lovely, you are xx

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  2. Thanks Gulara, I know that lovely story about Edison. There are quite a few about those who rose above their circumstances … Helen Keller comes to mind, although perhaps she had loving parents. But especially those who made the effort to counter the negative mother and/or father by hard inner work and especially thereby, to not pass on their baggage to their offspring.

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    • Thank you for your wise words, Susan. I’m editing my manuscript and acutely aware of what I had to overcome and the amount of inner work I had to do to not pass on the baggage. I feel truly blessed to have resources and opportunities to be more awake and conscious, and yet it takes a lot of effort at times. It’s all worthwhile though, because being a conscious parents means being more awake to life in general.

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  3. Thank you Gulara for this lovely post. I knew about the school’s attitude to Edison, but didn’t know about his mother “reading” the note differently. What he wrote about his Mum is lovely. Our words, our judgements are so powerful, we must always think before we speak. It’s just as important, as you say, to be as mindful of the things we tell ourselves as it is about what we tell others.

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  4. Pingback: Celebrating 2015 – Reflections | Dr Gulara Vincent

  5. Reblogged this on PSYCHEDELICBAY and commented:
    You may follow blogs to discover new talents, to learn, to read matters of similar interests etc. Many of us are in search of inspiration in this real world, to rise from ashes, dust and turn into stars… There is just one thing you need to do, you need to hope, for better days and you need to follow inspiration. Here is inspiration… Do follow it, and I mean follow her blog. Follow inspiration. A must read. Enjoy the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I vaguely remember hearing the story of Edison many years ago. A story that touches the heart. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned from it for all of us. I love your closing paragraph. I’ve been practising more positive self-talk these past couple of years. My inner child is doing much better as am I as a result. Awesome post!

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  7. Beautiful inspiring lessons, again !
    Parents seem to forget to often how much a child can understand. Turning on the vacuum cleaner while arguing, it will not be sufficient, for example.
    And body-language and moods they can also ‘read’.
    Soothing your inner-child, just love that! If I can’t seem to get out of my negativity, an ice-cream can do the trick 😉
    Have a lovely Sunday, dear Gulara.

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    • Thank you, Patty, deep gratitude for your support. Yes, children are so in tune with adults. And they can ‘read’ the energy of unexpressed emotions too. So, the best way we can support our children is by looking after our own wellbeing. And, yes, ice-cream always works with my inner child 😀 Have a lovely Sunday too, dearest Patty. Big hug.

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  8. This is a beautiful post, thank you! It is so true about the effects of positive vs. negative words and thinking. It truly is all about attitude and we do need to talk to our inner child with care and kindness. No wonder Edison was so amazing, his mother was!! We should use positive words to all we encounter…wishing you a positively blessed day!! 🙂

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  9. What a great post. As a teacher, I know this, but sometimes I forget. I get bogged down in the daily grind of things, and I focus on what isn’t happening ie outcomes, rather than than the positive things going on with my students. As the school year comes to a close over these next two weeks you have inspired me to focus and express all the positiveness I can to my students and to myself. Thank you for the reminder! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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