Friday, May 1, 2015

Your words matter more than you could ever imagine

Now that bub's started to imitate us a lot more and is coming out with new words each week its made me a lot more conscious of my own behaviour. She picks up on the tiniest little mannerisms, some of them I don't even realise I'm doing. Its definitely made me weary of what I'm saying and the words I'm using as well.

I know you're all probably thinking I'm talking about swear words here, but thankfully we haven't encountered that problem yet, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Although I'm pretty sure there's been a few random moments where she's whispered sh*t while mumbling away, but we weren't sure what she was trying to say so didn't make a big deal of it. Right now I'm more concerned about what I'm saying than what she's saying.

I remember a few months ago I read this article about how a daughter learnt her perception of body image from how her mother spoke about herself. Its been in the forefront of my mind again lately. I've written before about how I have a love/hate relationship with my body. It changed a lot post pregnancy and while I like parts of it, there's others I'm not so fond of. I don't obsess over my body image by any means, but I am prone to the odd negative comment about it. Reading that article has made me realise how powerful those few, seemingly insignificant, throwaway comments can be - especially to my impressionable daughter.


Obviously at less than 2 years old she's not going to be processing the meaning of the words the same as she will when she's older, but I'm trying to get into the habit of watching the way I speak now. Although I never inherited body image issues from my mum {in fact I can't really remember her talking about her body at all}, I do understand how a simple throwaway comment with little intended meaning can be internalised and replayed over and over. For years I took every negative comment my mother said to me and let it define me. I repeated those negative words in my head thousands of times until I believed they were true. It affected my self worth and self esteem immensely. I'm sure at the time she was just venting frustration, but to me those words meant much more and I let them define me for years.

I'd never intentionally say negative things about my daughter, and especially not to her face, because of my own experiences. I am however very guilty of saying negative things about myself and sometimes while she's in the room. I don't want her to develop a negative self worth or a negative body image because I casually said "I wish I wasn't so fat", "I hate my belly" or "I wish I could lose weight" while she was within earshot. I don't want her to take my own insecurities and make them her own.

So I'm going to try and do better {try being the operative word there}. I know there'll be times when I fail and still make off the cuff comments without thinking, I'm only human after all, but if I can at least stop myself some of the time then that's a start. I think too often we get caught up seeing everything from an adult's perspective that we sometimes forget about the tiny little sponges along side us who are soaking everything up without properly understanding it. Kids have a remarkable ability to take everything personally and decide everything is their fault and I don't want my daughter to develop a negative inner monologue because of me.

So I'm going to do everything I can to stop it from happening.

Toni x

43 comments:

  1. This is something I have to be mindful of too. Especially when I am criticising my body. Lovely post.

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    1. I'm hoping if I'm more mindful of it then I'll be able to change my habits x

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  2. You are totally spot on :)

    My teens come up with things from forever ago that they remember being said. What you think is an insignificant comment, can be stuck to their brains forever.

    Awesome post xo

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    1. I still remember things my mum said from about 20 years ago, it really is amazing what gets seared into our memories.

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  3. Oh definitely. I wasn't able to have kids but I would have been terrified that I would have well and truly messed with their heads when it came to body image, dieting etc.

    Great post.

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    1. I think the fact that it was so hard for me to conceive her makes me even more scared that I'm going to screw her up {because I've thought about it for sooo long}, but it also makes me more aware so I guess that's a good thing.

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  4. This is so great and something your daughter will thank you for. A little bit of conscience thought now will do all you can to promote healthy body image in her. Good work Mumma! And I say that as an Aunty who has taught one too many of my nieces and nephews and swear. By accident. So I get what sponges those little ones can be. Haha.

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    1. Haha my niece knew how to swear quite young, but she seems to have grown out of it a lot now. I hope I didn't teach her!

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  5. You're a great mum, Toni. This is something I am mindful of too. I talk very negatively about my looks and body. I've been careful to not do it in front of the girls, but I do it in front of Dave. The other day I was thinking I just really need to stop it. Dave doesn't want to hear that negative talk either. Hard to kick old habits though.

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    1. I say it a lot in front of T too and I'm sure he doesn't care for it. If only we could see ourselves the way they do x

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  6. So true. Even our non verbal communication they pick up, like when I take a deep breath out of frustration. Now I notice my 3 year old does it when he's frustrated or annoyed ... at me?! Or the other day he was playing with his water gun (not filled with water of course) and went to put it over his brother's head and says "bang! bang!", I think he's been watching daddy play too many computer games?

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    1. I'm always worried about her seeing her dad playing the shooting games on the playstation. I always tell him to turn them off {although he only listens about half the time}. She makes her opinion pretty obvious though by standing in front of the tv or climbing all over him so he can't play. She does heaps of gestures the same as me though.

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  7. A good reminder to keep mindful, and it is good to do it just for yourself too, to remember that you wouldn't ever talk to anyone else that you love that way, so why show such disrespect to yourself? Something that I try to remember, also having a post pregnancy, or more so post sleep deprivation sugar cravings, body. Thank you for posting :)

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    1. Its so true isn't it, we'd never talk to anyone else that way yet we're perfectly fine with being horrible to ourselves. Its quite sad.

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  8. So important hon. I am very careful to always keep the focus on health not body beautiful stuff. My girls are now 10 and 11 1/2 and this is the most critical time but I had set this intention from when they were toddlers not to talk about fat etc. I am currently at my heaviest weight and my clothes fit badly right now. My girls commented on something and I admitted I wanted to lose weight but pointed out that it had been the result of a whole summer neglecting my exercise and nutrition and that those were the things I was focusing on fixing- taking CARE of my body etc. xx.

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    1. I can see its going to get so much harder when she gets older and actually starts asking questions about things, but hopefully if I word things in the same manner you are then she'll still have a positive outlook.

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  9. Yep, I've had to pull my socks up since Little Vick first grew into toddlerhood, but it's been beneficial for all of us to be more aware of what we're saying and projecting to those around us. Kids really do adopt our values and vocab.

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    1. I know, its already so obvious how much she copies us and she's not even two yet I'm going to have to be really, really careful once she starts talking more.

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  10. It is so important to be mindful of your words and behaviours when you are role modeling for kids. And my tip - start practicing curbing your swearing now, it is harder to do than you think :/

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    1. Yea we really need to watch the swearing when she's around. We use some swear words a lot when we're talking in slang between each other and I don't want her to pick them up and repeat them.

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  11. I'm dealing with these issues too - I actually find myself being kinder and more compassionate with MYSELF as I try to be a role model for my kids. It's win-win :)

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    1. Yep I;m hoping it will make me change the way I think about myself too.

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  12. Such a good reminder Toni, thank you. Even my boys are vulnerable to this - one keeps asking if he is fat and he is sooooo not! xx

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    1. Oh how sad that he thinks he's fat. Poor guy hopefully he'll move past it.

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  13. I also have major body image issues too and I have to be so careful not to pass them on to my kids. Like you say it's so important to be aware of how we act and speak in front of our children, even when we're not talking they're watching ....

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    1. I've been so good at curbing my anxiety and making sure I don't show it in front of her, but I only just starting thinking about how I talk. They watch and copy so much hey.

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  14. This is something I try really hard to be mindful of. Great piece Toni.

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    1. I thought I'd start now so hopefully I've got it down pat by the time she's older.

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  15. So important. No matter how hard I try I still end up saying things I wish I hadn't though! I have to stop saying things like "I'm not good at that, ask Daddy", for things I don't enjoy and am not particularly good at, like puzzles.

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    1. I'm sure I'm going to fail and say the wrong things a lot still, but I thought at least if I have it in the front of my mind I'm less likely to trip up as much as I do now.

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  16. I think this is such an important thing that we all need to remember! I think we underestimate the impact our words and actions have on children around us. I saw a video on Facebook of a baby, maybe 8/9 months old, crawl over to a CPR dummy, push on it's chest and kiss it on the mouth after obviously watching it done by an adult.. they are little sponges!

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    1. That's seriously amazing. Mine grabs my ventolin puffer, takes the lid off and puts it to her mouth then makes a sound like she's breathing it in. First time she did it I was like omg you even know how to use it just from watching me {will be good if she ends up with asthma like me though}.

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  17. I also think they pick up our body language...but let me say that we all remember the negative over the positive because it packs a punch. Maybe just be kind to yourself and she will see and feel that? Sounds like you are doing a great job as a mum.If I could change one thing about being a parent (its 43 years for me now) I would be less self-critical. Denyse x

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    1. Oh yes she definitely picks up on the body language too. I know I'm too self critical, I just can't figure out how not to be no matter how hard I try. I think its been wired into my brain for too long.

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  18. It's really hard not to judge ourselves out loud ...the internal critic does a good job though.
    I guess re -phrasing it as "I will try to eat healthier" if we feel the pinch of tight clothes and a trick mirror showing us wider than tall.
    I think you are doing a great job in that you are thinking about it carefully and the impact of your words.

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    1. Yea I think the key is definitely in re-phrasing :)

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  19. Great post and a timely reminder. You are doing a wonderful job.

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  20. Last week I wrote about this, after I went to a conference on body image and young girls. It was all about how our obsessions with dieting are destroying our children... The doctor I spoke with was amazing and very clever in his approach.

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    1. I missed your post Natalie, I'll have to go look it up.

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  21. It's scary how much our words can impact on kids. When it comes to body image, I think in my family, there is an intergenerational dislike with our bodies. My maternal grandma passed on the message to my mum who has passed it on to my sister and me. I guess all I can say is that fortunately, we haven't developed an eating disorder!

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    1. Yea its true how lucky those of us who have body image issues are that we haven't developed an eating disorder. I know when I was younger when I wanted attention from my mum I'd stop eating because it was the only way I got noticed sometimes so its probably a really good thing that it didn't lead to some kind of disorder. Glad you guys haven't gone down that path either.

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  22. Yes, Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing with us for The Sunday Brunch Magazine , Bel & Eliza xx

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