I have three beautiful children ranging in age from my 14-year-old son to my 19-year-old daughter. But there was a point where I thought I would never make it that far.
I struggle with an anxiety disorder and have been dealing with it for years. By the time I married my husband, I had developed methods to help me defuse my anxiety so it did not impact my relationships as much. But once we had kids, it was a whole new world of stress and anxiety.
My Negative Talk Regarding My Children
I believe most parents are anxious to a certain extent when it comes to their children. We want them to do well, to be happy, and to lead fulfilling lives. However, we parents don’t always communicate this concern very well.
Once my two daughters were old enough to start fighting with each other is when my anxious negativity really started to kick in. It seemed like they brawled about everything from what character on Sesame Street was the best to whose turn it was to play mommy when they played house. To add to my stress, it always seemed like my children were the most unruly when it came to meeting up with other children for play dates. The addition of my son to the mix only heightened the stress I was laboring under.
While I am grateful that I was able to be a stay-at-home-mom, I’ll admit, during these early years, I was not particularly grateful. I would fill my husband’s ears with complaints that the kids were “the rudest children out of the playgroup” and “constant embarrassments”. While I refrained from talking negatively in front of my children to avoid affecting them, I didn’t realize my negative talk would still have an affect on them.
Developing Positive Ways To Communicate About My Kids
As I’ve counseled parents and teens over the years, I have found all parents struggle with a certain amount of parenting-induced anxiety. However, parents talking negatively about their children just creates a negative feedback loop.
This negative feedback loop causes anxiety to grow, and over time, it will begin to affect your children. My oldest daughter began retreating inward to escape my negative attitude while the two youngest became more defiant and unruly. But it wasn’t until my husband said exasperatedly after a long day at work “don’t the kids do anything good?” that I realized what my negative talk was doing to my family.
From that moment onward, I committed to revamping my ways and being a better communicator when talking about my children.
Just a day after my realization, my two daughters wrecked their bedroom after finding some of my painting supplies. Instead of spiraling into frustration and anxiety upon finding the destruction, I instead:
- Realized they were expressing their creativity with no intended malice.
- We had a good talk about boundaries.
- After some tears from all three of us, we hugged and cleaned up.
I can hardly express how nice it was to be able to laugh as I told my husband about our adventures in interior decorating.
I’m not going to pretend it was the easiest thing to do. There has been a bit of backsliding over the years, especially at high-stress times like the holidays. But to help keep my conversations positive while speaking to my children and to others, I have:
- Committed to saying at least 4 good things about each child every day.
- Given myself time to process any perceived misbehavior.
- Involved myself in my children’s interests.
- Worked on myself so I can better support my children during their times of need.
It’s a rough road we walk as parents. But I believe if we try to eliminate the negativity from our mouths, we’ll be able to rid it from our hearts as well.