The Power of Words

Written by Christy Whitman August 4, 2013
Conversation together

Words have the power to elicit feelings of good within ourselves and others, and they also have the power to create feelings of sadness. Just as negative self-talk causes you to feel worse, verbal negativity aimed towards others will cause them to feel worse. This is vitally important for our kids to understand. It’s also important for them to understand how powerful words really are.

As parents, we are also teachers, and there are always teachable moments to share with our kids about what is acceptable, loving, etc.

One day we were driving in the car and Alex said out of the blue, “Mommy, you are not as pretty as the princesses.” That was a moment for me to either let my inner wounded child come out, or stay in my adult self and teach my child that words have power.

“Alex, that hurt Mommy’s feelings. What you say affects people. Words have power. They have the power to hurt or the power to make someone feel good. When you say something nice, others feel good. When you say something mean or negative, others feel bad.”

When we’re teaching our kids, it’s important to not just say, “Don’t do this or don’t say that.” We need to tell our kids the reasons behind our thinking. We need to tell them the “why.”

Telling them “why” helps them understand and it teaches them. Without telling them the “why” behind what we are saying, it just won’t make sense to them, and they’ll respond in a totally different way. But when you give them the “why,” they can connect the dots and you’ll truly have taught them something. The difference between disciplining and teaching is the discussion of “why.”

Okay, I know we’re moving along quickly here, and there’s a lot to take in. We’ve got one more building block to discuss, and then we’ll get to the fun stuff on how to implement this knowledge with your kids.

The next thing we need to discuss that is vital to our children’s development—and that is never taught in schools—is understanding and having control of our emotions. Most of us never really learn how to “feel and release” emotions (especially the negative ones). Failing to acknowledge and express our emotions only encourages them to fester until they eventually manifest through any number of symptoms, both physical and psychological.

Take anger, for example. Anger is triggered by the perception that someone is crossing one of our boundaries or trying to take something away from us that we hold dear (as with kids, their favorite toy—if anyone has more than one child, you can certainly understand sibling rivalry with toys). Your child’s reaction may vary in intensity from mild irritation to intense resentment, but in every case, anger arises as an alarm that something or someone in our immediate environment may not have our best interest at heart. By listening to and heeding its message, we can diffuse volatile situations before they erupt. However, if we ignore our anger and allow it to fester beneath the surface, it can easily explode into rage, hurting not only our intended target, but also ourselves.

Emotions are powerful. They can help and hurt us—and our kids—both at the same time. But one thing’s for sure: if we ignore emotions, they will negatively affect us.

Emotions are so important, and being able to understand and release them is equally as important. We need to know how to identify what we are feeling to successfully have relationships. Just saying, “I am upset” does not really give enough detail in how you are feeling. “I am sad. I am angry. I am frustrated.” Those words are more descriptive, and they show kids what those emotions mean. Emotions are how we express our energy, and they will be one of the keys in how we create in our lives.

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