As parents, we're always wary of the outside world influencing our children too early. We try to shield them from negative influences until they are ready to take on the real world. Apart from the skills they need to learn to survive, we also make sure they're emotionally ready.
But we parents are not perfect -- no one is -- and sometimes we blurt out words out of anger or frustration. The way we talk to our kids has a significant impact on our children's psyche, as is how we act in their company.
"We must be aware of how we discipline our children," clinical psychologist Ma. Lourdes "Honey" Carandang, Ph.D., told Inquirer.net. The tone of your voice, the way you phrase your sentences, and even the words you choose could have long-term repercussions.
Here are some instances when you could be negatively impacting your child's life:
Using labels when talking to your kids Some of us who grew up with this as the norm would argue that we turned out "all right," dismissing name-calling as merely parent-speak. That may not be the case for kids today.
Labels such as "tamad," "tanga," and even adjectives such as "tabachoy," if spoken frequently enough, could scar a child for life and affect his confidence. He could develop feelings of resentment towards the parent, or, worse, might believe that he truly is deserving of such label.
Comparing your children Parents love talking about their kids. And while many will not admit it, it's a fact that parents often play favorites among their kids, and one will always stand out from among his siblings in the eyes of his parents.
This is no more evident than when a parent introduces one child to others by highlighting her best features -- "Eto 'yung maganda kong anak!" -- while 'forgetting' to give the other sibling a similar distinction -- "At eto naman 'yung bunso." "That’s the kind of bullying that’s very subtle. It is insulting, it is pulling down (the other child). Parents can be guilty and not be aware," Dr. Carandang points out. Kids actually notice these seemingly little things, and the seed could grow and cloud your child's mind.
Letting your favoritism influence discipline Bullying among siblings is also another issue often overlooked. We may not be aware, but sometimes the wrongdoing of the bunso or the favorite child goes unpunished.
Dr. Carandang stresses that when siblings argue, their parents must objectively listen to both children's accounts to get a good grasp of the incident, so they could act on the matter in a fair manner. And while older kids are supposed to be more understanding of their younger siblings, it's equally important to give attention to the older child's emotional needs.
Model bullying as parents When we say actions speak louder than words, this also refers to how adults interact with one another. When the kids see their father talk smack to their mother, it could be sending a message that it's alright for men to behave that way, or for women to welcome the treatment without question. "This is because the children model themselves after the parents. Namulat ka na ganoon ang mundo mo," said Dr. Carandang.
These scenarios they witness at home could make children more open to bullying incidents in the playground or in school. "What we don’t see is that the origin (of the behavior) could be the home, so let’s be aware of how we discipline our children. We have to do away with putting down or emotionally labeling our children," Dr. Carandang stressed.
A saying goes, 'How we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.' One way to make sure we don't leave any stones unturned when it comes to our kids' emotional development is to work on becoming intentional parents. Know that our actions and words have a big impact on our children's lives, so make sure they count.