Throughout my entire professional life my focus and expertise has always been on language. From PR and Comms to running a start-up non-profit to managing staff and now as a holistic lifestyle coach, I know the importance and value in choosing words and language consciously to drive positive behaviors and desired outcomes – a skill which comes in very handy when parenting!
One of my major passions is using language consciously to empower and support people to live healthy, happy and empowered lives, especially when this impacts the lives of future generations.
I am acutely aware of the way people use words to communicate and the impact this has on behavior and outcomes. And as a Mum of two small children who are learning constantly and forever taking in the world around them, using language consciously is fundamental.
For parents it’s important to be consciously aware that the language we use and the way we interact with others and our children is absorbed, matched, mirrored and expressed by the little people in our lives.
The words we use literally begin to shape the way our children interact with both their inner and outer worlds.
It is widely understood in the epi-genetics and neuroscience communities that from birth through to the age of 6/7 the mind of a child is wide open.
For the first two years a child’s brain is in delta brain wave state (sleep state) and from two to six years a child’s brain is operating in theta brain wave state (hypnosis state).
Basically… children under six/seven are in a constant hypnotic trance state below consciousness (you might relate this to seeing a hypnotist making adults cluck like chickens in a room full of people… this is how suggestible children can be).
This means, small children do not / cannot filter and are like sponges, taking in everything around them through all their senses.
“By observing the behavioural patterns of people in their immediate environment – primarily parents, siblings and relatives – children learn to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable social behaviours” Dr Bruce Lipton.
The challenge and opportunity therefore is for parents to become conscious of their own language, beliefs and behaviours and to make mindful choices which positively support the development of their children.
5 Great Language Hacks You Can Start Today
- Invest in you
The language you use, the tone in which the words are spoken and how you react in each situation is a reflection of your inner world, especially your values and beliefs (95% of which are unconscious to you and were formed in your own formative (birth to 7) years).“It’s important to realise that perceptions acquired before the age of six become the fundamental subconscious programs that shape the character of an individual’s life” Dr Bruce Lipton.Therefore, one of the most important things you can do for your kids is to value yourself and continue to do your own inner work and evolve beyond the values, beliefs and limiting decisions which are holding you back from being the parent and person you desire to be (and can be).So many parents I speak with will do anything for their kids, family (and even community) but neglect themselves and their own development, either dismissing it completely or undervaluing its importance.Beyond meeting the basic needs of food and shelter, the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and parents is fundamental.Therefore, prioritising personal development and growth (a journey that never ends) is one of the most important things all adults can do for themselves and others.
E.g. Read books, get a coach or mentor – someone to help you move to a more balanced, natural and empowered state.Plus, by valuing yourself your children also learn that self-love and investing in yourself is something to value in their life as they continue to grow.
- Say it how you want it
A lot of the time parents are telling their children what they DON’T want rather than focusing on the behavior they DO want.Using “towards” language rather than “away from” language is highly effective in reaching the desired outcome.Before speaking, think about the desired behaviour you do want to see from your child and how you can coach, encourage and support themE.g. “Don’t run across the road because it’s dangerous” can be switched to “When you get to the road please stop and wait for Mum/Dad so we can check if it’s safe to cross together”.Becoming aware of your words and thinking critically and consciously about what you DO WANT before speaking is essential.With ongoing reflection and becoming conscious of your words, eventually this becomes a lot easier.
- Remove “Should”, “Have to” & “Need”
Parenting without using guilt, shame or blame is so important for the long term happiness, fulfilment and sense of love our children feel throughout their lives.There are very few things in life we actually “need”, “should do” or “have to” do to live happy and fulfilling lives, therefore it’s important to teach the (sometimes seemingly) subtle differences between doing things we want for ourselves versus doing or saying something nice and/or simply acting in a way that we think society “expects” of us.E.g. when communicating to our children it can be as simple as changing “you need to say please” to “what’s a nice thing to say when you ask for something?”.
- Overestimate their understanding
By their very nature kids are curious, have an enquiring mind and are much more aware than we often give them credit for. It’s important we don’t brush them off or ignore their enquiring minds.Take the time to explain why you do things and/or make certain decisions and how things work. If you don’t know the answer, be honest and encourage further research.E.g. Simply saying “I am not sure darling, why don’t we research it together” encourages them to remain curious, which is an invaluable skill as they become teenagers and adults.
- Repeat Repeat Repeat
While it’s valuable to overestimate their cognitive understanding by explaining the detail of things it’s equally important to remember that our children have only been here in their bodies for a relatively short time, therefore it’s important to repeat the positive behaviours and language which positively support and empower our children.Sometimes this can feel like hitting the replay button again and again and again (and again…) but know that they are taking everything in and processing what you are saying.What you say and do is literally wiring into their brains and consciousness.
When to start? As the Chinese proverb says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The sooner you can start (the younger the better) using positive and empowering language, the easier it is for you and your children.
As parents and/or primary carers of small children we are the custodians of their development and first experiences. We are their first role models. How we are as people (in the privacy of our home and in public) and the language we use is taken with them. It may not be something which manifests itself now, but will likely be something that is drawn upon in their lives (both consciously and unconsciously).
Conscious parenting through using conscious language is a practice. There is a common saying in neuroscience that goes “neurons that fire together, wire together” which basically means the more you repeat a behaviour or skill the stronger the neural pathway becomes until eventually it becomes second nature.
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. If you didn’t communicate your message “perfectly” the first time there is always another opportunity to grow and evolve your language and conscious parenting.
Love & Light,