My husband Sam’s best friend’s mom (you got that?) used to say, “the power of your words!” every time she heard someone sounding defeated or negative. It’s something he still remembers to this day. Since I spend so much of my time writing, I’ve been thinking about words a lot lately. I think about the kind of words that make me roll my eyes, the kind of words that touch my heart, the kind of words that motivate me to do and be more, etc and so on.
I’m still getting to know my babies. Don’t you feel like that most days? Learning what inspires them, what makes them light up, what sends them into downward spirals. My oldest, Matilda, is a spirited little thing. At four years old she is quite the sparkler. When she is good she is a downright angel and when things head south, well, they go deep. She’s got gumption and if I can flatter myself… she’s so much like me. My mother loves to remind me of this on the notsopleasant days.
I realized the other day that my words during one of her episodes had sunken in differently than I had planned. You’ve probably seen this quote flying around the internet: “Be careful how you speak to your children, one day it will become their inner voice.” – Peggy O’ Mara. I heard this quote immediately as I watched her translate, “You are acting terrible” to “You think I’m terrible?” Wheels screached in my mind and I quickly tried to do damage control (granted the girl was acting outta her mind but I certainly did NOT want her to think I thought she was terrible). I said, “Of course I don’t think you’re terrible. I just feel disappointed that you’re not listening to me and that you think it’s ok to kick me.” Matilda: “You’re not proud of me?!” her little head went into her hands.
The next day I tried a totally different approach. I offered her positive reinforcement of her good behavior and what do ya know… no episodes. She was golden, loving, responsive, and a total delight the entire day. The power of my words. Turns out little ones want to hear those five words, too.