Our eldest came home from school yesterday and confided in me quietly about something that happened in school which bothered him.
He shared that while ordering food at the school canteen during recess, he was trying to take out his coins from his wallet. The canteen stall vendor became impatient with him for taking a little too long to dig out his coins. He whispered in my ear, that the auntie had said to the boy next to him in the queue, “This boy is very slow!”
When I heard that, honestly, I don’t feel good.
I felt sick in my stomach, that a complete stranger had placed a negative label on my son. And made him feel bad.
It could well be an innocent remark, made in a moment of frustration or impatience. To her, it was harmless. To my son, it bothered him enough to remember it the entire day.
I gave our boy a big hug, assured him that he is not slow, and asked what he could do the next time when he needs to order food. He replied that he will prepare his coins beforehand, so that he can be quick to pay for his food. That is good reasoning, I think.
I went on to tell him that not everyone in this world is nice, and that there will be some nasty people around. What is most important is that he is loved by his family, and he can always come back to us whenever he faces hurtful situations outside.
This little incident made me realise once again the power of our words. And I was reminded of this picture which I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago.
As parents, we may not be able to control what others say to our kids, especially in our absence. But we certainly can control what WE say to our own kids.
I am definitely guilty of speaking negatively to my kids in moments of anger and frustrations. I am now even more determined than ever to watch my words to my kids, especially during those times when their less than pleasant behaviours drive me nuts.
Practically, these are some things we can do when we are driven up the walls by our kids:
1. Time out
For ourselves, not the kids! This means we can walk away from the heat of the moment, and cool down before facing the kids again.
2. Think of something positive about our kids.
Focusing on something positive can stop us from uttering negative words to our kids.
3. Place photographs of our kids at various places of the house!
Make sure those are lovely, happy, adorable photographs of our kids. When we feel that our blood is starting to boil, take a quick look at those photos. And breathe. Being reminded of how adorable and lovely our kids are can stop those negative words from flying out of our mouths!
To be honest, it is not that easy sometimes. But I guess most parts of parenting aren’t easy. It is a journey, one on which we are constantly learning, changing and growing.