Words. Words. Words. They can be funny, inspirational and life-changing, but they can also be negative, harmful and judgy. I think most of us can recall a moment or two when someone has said something that has stuck to us to this day. We hear it all the time the impact language can have and shape an individual, especially children; but it wasn’t until R1 had her daughter and she began speaking that she fully realised the importance of the actual words we used around her. From simple every day sayings we flippantly throw around, to age old “old wives tales”. I have always been interested in the ripple effect our words have on our own thinking, but also on how it shapes the thoughts in our environment and ultimately our children. Let’s explore!
This post is in no way meant to be a rant or a judgy, it’s meant to give us an opportunity to look inward at the things, words in this case, we project outwardly. We’re not sure if it’s because we class ourselves as feminists (Why We Need Feminism ) or if it’s simply because we’re millennials; but we have always found it to be extremely important to be fully aware of the language we use. Be it around other people, internally with ourselves or specifically for this post, with children. As a family, we have always been intertwined with child development, our mother is an educator in a daycare, R2 is currently in university studying to be a speech therapist while she and one of our brothers also worked in a daycare! So we have always been aware of how “vulnerable” children are to the impacts of negative language used around them. Within this post, we do not mean swearing or using vulgar language, we are referring to positive and negative
We have never liked generalizations or labels; She’s so “bossy“, he’s the “class clown“, “women need to stay at home”, “man up”…the list goes on. It wasn’t until I had my daughter when I noticed just how items geared toward specific gender’s are packaged and worded. Even when speaking about ourselves or children, we tend to discuss males as more adventurous and as risk-takers. Yet, when it comes to females who tend to have the same characteristics, we tend to speak about them like they are a novelty, like they’re being rebellious. My biggest irk is labelling girls as bossy, which is usually used in a negative context as opposed to males who are more outspoken are deemed to be taking more of a leadership role. In my opinion calling girls bossy, will only dissuade them to be more assertive and speak their minds- then twenty years down the line we will then ask the question, ‘why didn’t you go for that promotion?’ And all too often the reply is the same, they didn’t want to seem pushy or too bossy….We ask ourselves why there are more males in positions of power, and yes it can be because the doors aren’t being opened for women, but we also have to ask ourselves, when our children and our girls, what language do we use in order to encourage or dissuade them?
R1 has even had thought provoking discussions with our mother over the words used when addressing her daughter; a recent example- like most kids, my daughter enjoys looking in the mirror and dancing or making faces at her reflection. In this instance she appeared to be posing and smiling back at her reflection; to our mother, this was viewed as being vain and full of herself (it didn’t come from a negative space), so my challenge to her was, why was it so wrong for her to like her reflection? I understand she is only 4, but we are fully aware that conversations we hear or have at a young age, can become deeply rooted and potentially shape our future. And with endless images on the internet and magazines telling us about all the things we need to tweak, cut, highlight, hide, nip, tuck etc, we should only encourage her to LOVE her reflection, especially at a young age! After all, self-love will be one of the most important things for us as adults, let alone her teenage years- we even shared our tips on how to improve our own self-love (6 Ways We Work On Our Self-Lovin’). What I have found is that we do not put enough emphasis on children to understand the importance and the impact words can have, whether for communication, just for them to grasp the weight language can have on an individual. One comment, spoken flippantly can alter the course of someone’s life. We are fully aware that having someone who is encouraging or who helps to build us up will have positive effects on us in the future. The language we use is no different. It has been proven in sports medicine, simply having a sports psychiatrist to help you use the correct language in encouraging athletes to visualise their target and get there mentally, has been proven to increase their success rate in their given sport. Studies has even shown that plants who were exposed to positive words and relaxing music, were more successful in their growth and grew to be much bigger than plants which were exposed to negative words. This undoubtedly shows the importance of encouraging, building up and lifting each other up. One can only imagine the success we would all have as a society and a human race if we were more careful with our words.
It is evident through life that our words have a great impact on the people around us, but its not just that. Our words hold meaning, they have a ripple effect; whether they are compliments, insults and comments, we need to mind what we say. Not just around the little ones in our lives, but also for the people we meet, the ones we love and the ones we have yet to meet. You never know where a backhanded comment may lead you, it may come back to you but it may also be misunderstood, hence the importance of speaking your truth, but also being aware of your intention when you speak. What are some of the tools you use to ensure you are speaking within your truth? Share with us, we’d really like to know!