17 May 2022

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths: Your child . . . their feelings

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths: Your child . . . their feelings

'You are,,, bad, bold, naughty...why aren’t you good?’

‘This is the best painting ever’ as you fold it into tiny bits to squash it into your bag

'I’m sick of you…’

How do these comments make you feel?

Now, let’s imagine you’re a toddler or young child – how do they make you feel now?

To some adults, these comments are harmless, to others they are comments they use every day and other adults may think they are hurtful, degrading and simply unnecessary.

I’m in the last group – I believe that how we speak to our children, react to them and treat them lays the foundation for their self-esteem, self-worth and confidence.

I’m not saying we should always say our toddlers and children are good and never tell them off. All I’m saying is, let’s be mindful of HOW we tell them off.

PLEASE don’t say ‘you are a bold boy, a bad girl.’ This is suggesting they are bad or bold all the time – why not say ‘that was a bold thing to do.’ This way your child knows it is the act of what they did you don’t like. You are not criticising them as a person, but the thing they did.

We know ourselves as adults we ALWAYS remember the negative comments people make to us – so do our children.

How often do you have to be told you are ‘bad’ before you start to believe it?

Before you start to act like that all the time, as that is what you think is expected of you?

I wrote the comment about the painting because I’ve seen this so many times over the years – if the painting was really that wonderful why didn’t you look at it properly, talk to your child about it and why did you squash it up?

If that was your painting how would you feel? I’m not saying don’t praise your child, or tell them what they have done is wonderful. Just mean it when you say it and show you mean it too! We think we are ‘helping’ our children by saying how perfect, wonderful, amazing everything they do is. But is this really helping them?

Can sometimes things not be okay, or a good try or even ‘I like this painting but my favourite one is still the pink one on the wall at home.’

After all how will they learn to try harder, that sometimes they are not the best at EVERYTHING, if all we say is ‘that’s amazing, perfect etc etc, you are the best boy in the world.’ I can tell you now, their teacher in school is not going to think everything they do is amazing, perfect etc.

As for the ‘best boy in the world’ comment, I’ve heard so many parents say it and their sibling look confused.

The little girl looking confused as she hears other parents saying it to their children and then the look of dismay, confusion and sadness when she arrives in nursery or school and realises that the teacher doesn’t think she is the best girl.

So what’s the answer? Because your child DEFINITELY is the best boy or girl to you – simply say just that... ‘Your my best boy in the whole world!' (I can tell you now I have the best boy, the best biggest niece, the best littlest niece in the whole wide world). 

It’s again about being mindful of what we say, it comes back to how we make them feel, words like this could end up setting them up for disappointment, confusion and sadness.

Love is something we give and how we choose to give it is a personal choice. For some it’s words, a look, a touch, a special smile, a hug, a kiss or even a gesture. But we all need love and we all deserve love – to be denied love through touch or gesture or to be told repeatedly how bad we are, how awful we make others feel can make us feel sad, un-worthy, hurt, upset and even angry or frustrated – thinking am I not good enough to be loved?  

Am I REALLY a bad person? This is true AND it’s true for our children too. How will they learn to love and be loved, if they are not loved by you?

We can nurture our little ones by buying the best, most suitable toys, giving them good food and clothes BUT money cannot buy love, affection, praise or thoughtfulness, consideration of feelings and developing​self-esteem.

Yet it is these simple acts that, as well as helping our children feel good in themselves, also helps them to like themselves, learn to love, to learn to be loved, to be accepted for who they are and ultimately helps them to form and maintain loving, trusting relationships for the rest of their lives.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.