Children today are exposed to a lot of conversations that may be inappropriate, raising their stress and anxiety levels (which are already higher than ever). You rarely hear parents applying the “Not in front of the children” rule.
Do be careful what you say within earshot of your children because the conversations they are exposed to have the power to both harm or heal, whether they are four years old or 16 years old.
This could include things such as:
- When you talk in front of them to another parent about your child’s dyslexia or ADD
- When you talk about them in front of the teacher
- When you talk about how difficult it will be for them to get jobs in the future, etc
Unfiltered information in a digital age
The cellphone era has ushered in a more public approach to conversation because we take calls wherever we are and in the company of whoever we are with. Our children get to hear unfiltered calls, often on bluetooth in our cars, so they hear the whole conversation, not just our response. They are often privy to disturbing information.
Add to that what they hear on radio and TV or via social media, and you have a lot of inappropriate information on steroids bombarding children.
How words shape children
What they hear is shaping their brains, their values and their worldview — how they see the world.
The conversations they hear should strengthen the following:
- Their confidence
- Their character
- Their worldview
Kids are faced with a very challenging world today and they need to believe that they have everything they need to be okay in it. Many kids are fast coming to the conclusion that they don’t have the resources to deal with a challenging and fast-changing world. Fear, anxiety and stress are mounting daily
What are they hearing and learning from you?
Let’s see what has been shaping your children – hurting or healing then in the past week – and exercise definitely worth doing.
- Think about all the conversations you have had in the past week within earshot of your children. You may need to make a list of them – who were you speaking to and what was it about.
- Think about how they have witnessed you living your life — just for the past week.
- Now divide a page in half and on one side write down the positive and negative values you are currently teaching your child based on what they have heard or witnessed above.
- On the other side write down what values you specifically want to be teaching them.
Now have a critical look at the differences which will give you a good idea of whether there is more hurting or healing going on. It would be rare to find one and not the other so don’t panic.
- Finally, you need to have the courage and the character to make the necessary changes to bring what is going on more in line with what you desire or what you would like your family brand to stand for.
Create teachable moments
In no way am I advocating wrapping our children in cottonwool and protecting them from the world. That would leave them in a very risky position. But I am encouraging a common sense and more conscious and aware approach to what your children are hearing. And when they do hear something that they shouldn’t, do create a teachable moment out of it. Potentially negative and harmful situations can be turned into unbelievably powerful, positive ones depending on the conversations you choose to have with your children.
Never forget that little eyes and little ears are always upon you.