"No," sob, sob, "he called my stupid."
Randy was Matt's twelve year old brother and occasionally chose such behavior.
"Randy called you stupid?" I repeated.
I turned Matt around and looked him straight in the eye and launched into some unusual parent talk.
"You're a car." I told him.
"You're a car!"
"Dad, what are you doing?"
"I'm calling you a car. Car, car, car, car."
By this time, Matt had stopped crying. I had his full attention.
"Matt, there's something interesting going on here. I'm calling you a car and you're not crying," I said.
"Would you like to explain that to me?"
"Dad," he offered with a disgusted look on his face, "I'm not a car."
Then I had him. "Well, you know what Matt? You're not stupid either."
"Oh," I heard him say and I could see the wheels begin to turn in his head. Matt was having his first encounter with a concept that could positively effect the rest of his life. It is this:
MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT
SOMEBODY SAYS TO YOU IS WHAT
YOU SAY TO YOURSELF
ABOUT WHAT THEY SAY TO YOU.
When my parent talk was, "You're a car." Matt said to himself, "No, I'm not." or "What is my Dad doing?" or "He sure doesn't know me." When Randy called him stupid, he could have said to himself, "No, I'm not," or "What's the matter with Randy?" or "He sure doesn't know me."
You can't control the entire world and get everyone to talk to you the way you want to be talked to. But you can always control how you talk to yourself about how others talk to you. Making your talk more important than their talk is a sign of maturity and self-responsibility and a skill we can help our children learn.
Teach your child where their power truly is. Help them appreciate the fact that their power is not in controlling what others say to them. Their power lies within and is regulated by how they choose to talk to themselves.
CHICK MOORMAN...Exerpted from Parent Talk by Chick Moorman. See more of Chick's work at: www.ChickMoorman.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at: 877-360-1477.