If you’re a parent of a nonspeaking child, you already know one very important thing – while your child may be nonspeaking, he or she still hears and understands. It’s easy as parents to remind others to keep their language positive because your child is listening. But sometimes even parents are guilty of forgetting that little ears are listening when they engage in negative self-talk.
Negative Self-Talk – What is It?
Self-talk refers to the things you say to yourself. Sometimes you do this in your head, or you might say things to yourself out loud. Negative self-talk occurs when your inner conversation turns negative.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re stupid because you forgot your child’s speech therapy appointment. Or maybe you speak about your body negatively because you’re frustrated with a few extra pounds. Perhaps you tell yourself you just can’t do anything right because you did something that accidentally triggered a meltdown in your child.
Negative self-talk has a big impact on you. Studies show that negative thinking can result in weaker social networks. It could even have a damaging effect on your relationships.
How it Harms Your Nonspeaking Child
Unfortunately, your negative self-talk could be harming your nonspeaking child. As a parent, the way you talk about yourself has an impact on your children – both verbal and nonspeaking. Many children who are nonspeaking learn by imitating. And while they may not be speaking words, they’re definitely paying attention to yours.
Since many nonspeaking kids already struggle at school, at therapy, or at accomplishing things like putting words together, the last thing they need to hear is an example of negative self-talk. If you call yourself stupid for forgetting that appointment, your nonspeaking child may mentally call himself stupid when he forgets something or doesn’t master a new skill right away.
Negative self-talk is dangerous for children. It’s liked to poor school performance, problems making friends (something that may already be a challenge for your child), and low self-esteem. Your goal as a parent is to help your nonspeaking child have a happier, more productive life. This means eliminating negative talk from your vocabulary and from the entire family’s dialogue.
Overcoming Negative Self-Talk
You don’t always know what’s going on in the head of your nonspeaking child, and the last thing you want is to fuel negative self-talk. So, what can you do to overcome this type of talk in your life and your child’s? Here are a few tips:
Tip #1 – Focus on the Positive – Instead of being critical or focusing on the negative, try focusing on the positive – in your life and your child’s life. Make sure you’re giving more positive statements than negative ones.
Tip #2 - Embrace Imperfections – When you make a mistake, model healthy ways to deal with them. Don’t be afraid to apologize when you need to. Show your child that making mistakes and having imperfections is ok.
Tip #3 – Recognize Perseverance – Even if you haven’t been able to master something yet or your child hasn’t quite overcome an obstacle, make sure you recognize perseverance. Value their effort. Comment on how hard they’re working. Show the benefit of the process.
Negative self-talk is harmful. Not just to you, but to your children. Start taking control of your own negative talk so you can be a good role model and break the cycle.