Our self-talk is the internal dialog we have with ourselves. Sometimes it keeps us paying attention, reminds us of things we need to remember and even sometimes it applauds ourselves for something well done. However, most of the time our self-talk is negative.
So many times the conversation going on in our heads is how terrible we are as moms and dads. We miss one of our kid’s dance recitals, we don’t help with a school project, we don’t chaperone a trip to the science museum, we don’t coach our son’s soccer team – and we remind ourselves that we have failed our kids.
We frequently create such extreme expectations of ourselves as parents that we can’t help but miss some of them. And when we do, we launch into our negative self-talk. It is hard to stay positive, present and upbeat when we have so many negative thoughts running through our heads.
But with some attention we can shift this self-talk – we can improve its focus, messaging and its tone. Here are some ways:
- Stop and notice your parenting self-talk. You can’t improve what you don’t know. You can’t start to shift the self-talk until you see where it is and why it is there. Most of us are in the habit of negative self-talk but stopping and noticing how we talk to ourselves will help us see when and how it is happening. This is key to making a change.
- Remember being a parent is way more about being present, interested and loving than being perfect. Our kids know we don’t always get it right – that comes with being human. Focus less on being perfect and more on doing the best you can in the moments with your kids. This will help you help your kids stop their negative self-talk – after all, our kids model more of their behavior from what we do than from what we say.
- Work on using kind and supportive words with yourself. Once more aware of your negative self-talk, start to cut yourself some slack. Notice your successes instead of just your failures. Give yourself praise when you do something great like manage your temper with a toddler in meltdown mode, have a constructive discussion with a teen about a low grade or pull together a healthy and good meal at the end of an outrageously busy day. We do far more good than not good in a day. Notice it. Comment on it. Celebrate it. This change will ripple through everything else you do.
It is a hard job being a parent – none of us is consistently exceptional at it. Our kids constantly change which means our parenting must change. How can we always get things right in a world that is constantly moving? So shift your comments to focus more on your effort – on your emotion and affection – on your resilience and energy – on doing the best with what life send you at this exact moment. . Improve what you need to improve, but balance your self talk with applause when deserved. comment on your effort.
“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle,” is how the quote goes. Life isn’t easy. You know it. I know it. Your kids know it. Why make it harder by lambasting yourself every time you act like a human. Instead, be aware of how you talk to yourself and shift to being positive, constructive and supportive – make it your friend. Good friends offer wise and helpful advice – they don’t constantly dump on you. If they did, they wouldn’t stay your friend.