“Mean what you say don’t be mean in what you say”
Mean what you say don’t be mean in what you say!
I was reminded of this today while talking with a mum about her child. It is a common story I hear all the time, and I can’t believe it still happens.
Time and time again, I hear teachers telling mums that their child will never read like everyone else and that learning is not their “thing”.
The mum I spoke to today seemed to handle this news quite well after she was told by her daughter’s teacher that
“Learning is Genetic, so she is never going to be a doctor by the looks of it”
It sounds like something from the 1900’s doesn’t it? Or maybe a scene out of “Little House On The Prairie”.
What would you do in this situation?
I have had a similar experience with our first born. We had some dramas when he was born, and then my wife got cancer (she’s okay now). So, it was a challenging time for us all. We gave up our gym membership after the diagnosis and had to constantly travel to Melbourne for treatment. So in the end my wife was looking rather drained, with very little hair as a side effect of chemo and bloated thanks to the steroids she was taking as part of her treatment. I had also stacked on a few kilos due to having to cook for myself and opting for take away most evenings, not to mention I was drinking more than I used to at this time.
So, we rock up with our bundle of joy to visit the Maternal Health Nurse. Everything is pleasant, the nurse takes the measurements while we look on at our son, in awe as doting parents do.
The nurse hands him back to us and I think we did the usual ‘baby talk’ thinking he was just PERFECT.
Then the nurse, like a sabre thrust into our hearts, deals the death blow,
“Well, his measurements are okay, but just looking at you two he is never going to be
a marathon runner is he?”
My wife and I did a Double take. What the? Did I hear that correctly?
How I handled it…………….
I stumbled for words, but managed to get out that I did run at state level when I was younger. But mostly it was an incoherent jumble of words by my wife and I. We looked at each other horrified, gathered our possessions and quickly exited the room.
So, why am I telling you this story? It’s because, if we take these mean words to heart that others say, whether intentional or not , it can have an enormous effect on our self-esteem. Choose a more positive outlook and try not to take what others say personally. My wife and I look back on the visit with the health nurse and laugh every time we tell the story.
As adults we can make this choice, but kids (for the most part) don’t have the same resilience. Teachers can sometimes say things to their students that can be devastating, which some children will remember for the rest of their lives. I’m sure everyone has a story along these lines. Or perhaps the teacher says “I think you could do better” and the child interprets this as they are a failure or they are stupid.
Then there is the kids being kids scenario. Telling other students things like my work got a smiley stamp and yours didn’t.
All these things can accumulate to produce life long beliefs and negative self-talk.
I don’t want you to think I am bagging all teachers. There are some good and some bad, just like any other profession. Truthfully I just sat down to write a quick blog because I felt for the SUPERMUM I spoke to today and wanted to let her know she wasn’t on her own.
I bet my bottom dollar you have your own “Health Nurse” story (if you used the same one as us I can guarantee it) or a teacher once said this to me story.
So, how do we stop the negative from becoming an overwhelming wave of anxiety and hurtful self-talk?
Now remember I am not a counsellor, so the advice I’m about to give is from my own experience.
- Keep in constant contact with your child’s teachers and nip any bullying in the bud. I find email a great way to communicate with my son’s teachers. This way there is a paper trail and in my experience things are given more importance and the teachers deal with the situation promptly.
- Be open with your children. Our boy was quite sensitive, but we would explain to him that people say things because they are not happy with themselves. That they would try to upset him as a way of making themselves feel better.
- In contradiction to the last point, overprotecting kids only fuels their anxiety. You need to allow older children the space to try and solve the majority of their own problems. This can be hard, but just be a support and quote lesson 2 when needed.
- Avoid DRAMA! Saying things like, “If you don’t learn to swim, you are going to drown” only fuels children’s negative thoughts. When you are around others try to be impeccable with your word. Let’s face it, when we are in a group and alcohol is involved or we are trying to impress, we tend to over dramatize events. Our children do pick up on this. Being a good role model and avoiding drama, will encourage children to develop this same habit.
- Encourage mistakes and celebrate them. We learn more from our mistakes that we do from our successes.
“Mistakes are the knowledge steps to the top floor”
Who was it that said that? Oh, that’s right, it was ME!!!!
Well, I’m going to sign off now. Remember to mean what you say.
I’ve been Mr B. You’ve been FANTASTIC! Thanks for reading!!!!
The Mind Master