The other day, I happened to be out shopping during office hours which meant that there was a larger than normal abundance of young children, not yet attending school, in the shops. This particular day, I was in no rush as I was waiting to go to a business meeting, and I had arrived early. While I was browsing in this particular shop, I couldn’t help but observe the parents and how they were interacting with their young offspring.
Honestly, I was not snooping but I couldn’t avoid listening in and I was intrigued by the confusing messages that several of the parents were putting across to their young children.
Sending mixed messages to a child
Listening to these one-way conversations, really reminded me how easy it is to establish a negative belief in anyone including a very young child. One mum was clearly sending mixed messages to her child, and this is how it went. The child was complaining about wanting something, and the mum said NO but then went on to give her child a toy to hold while walking around, so definitely a mixed message. If a child hears a no but receives a reward for complaining, the child will have no guidelines to learn that a no means no. The mum then proceeded to walk around the shop proclaiming to her child in a very loud voice, that ‘NO, you are not getting anything because you do not deserve it’. The sentence ‘you do not deserve it’ was repeated at least five times in the short span that I was listening. The child appeared oblivious to the mum’s comments but I couldn’t help feeling confused on behalf of this child, who was no longer asking for anything but merely looking at things while walking around with the new toy in her hands.
How words can be misunderstood by children
When we look at the use of language, what does it actually mean when we say ‘you don’t deserve anything’? The word ‘anything’ is an extremely large and never ending word - does it mean the child is not allowed a drink, a cuddle or food? Also, looking at the word ‘deserves’, what parameter is being used to identify when a child deserves something, does the child even know what is required or is the child simply tuned out because they did get something (a toy) even though they have been told they don’t deserve it!
What is worrying, is how easy it is to implant a negative belief in even a young child. Such repeated comments from a parent can easily cause a child issues later in life, like low self-esteem and a need to please others in order to deserve something whether this is attention, love or indeed a promotion at work. The mind is a powerful tool where ideas and beliefs can linger around for a long time. Often the person in question is unaware of the reasons behind the insecurities that are potentially holding them back from achieving certain things in life. The good news are that you can reverse such old negative beliefs and create new positive beliefs about yourself and your abilities. If you are a parent and you recognise any of the above patterns, have a look at some of our online solutions, and discover how easy it is to change a communication pattern. If, on the other hand, you have been on the receiving end of this and you are suffering from low self-esteem, there are other techniques for you, allowing you to change those old negative beliefs.
By Tina Elven