How Much Impact Do Your Words Have On Your Children?

Your Impact On Your ChildrenFor those who know me best, you’ve probably heard me say several times that I get most of my writing ideas while walking.  Well, this past Sunday morning as I was taking my long walk in my favorite local park I saw a father holding the hand of his daughter to help her walk on the edge of wooden fence which top is shaped like narrow mini steps.  If she fell on her left side she could have fell on the hard asphalt, and she fell on the right she could have gotten scratch up by branches and other type debris you can find on the ground of a wooden area.  That’s why her father was holding her hand.

The father could have told his daughter, no, I do not want you to do this, because it’s dangerous.  Or he could have done what he did.  Allow her to walk on the edge of that fence/steps while holding her hand.

Since I don’t have children myself, this image brought me back to my own childhood.  I was thinking, what would my mother have done if I had asked her to walk on the edge of that fence?  Fortunately for me, my answer was that she would have probably done just like this father.  She would have let me experience safely rather than saying no, it’s dangerous.

What type of parent are you?   Are you aware of how much your words and actions impact your children?  I certainly hope you do, but if you don’t, then this article is for you.

The Influence you Have on your Children

Are you aware of how much you can influence your children? If you have never asked yourself this question it may be because of two reasons, a) you already know this and you are very much aware that everything you tell to your kids will stick with them for life, or b) You never knew this, and therefore, never even thought about asking such question.

My hope and wish is that you belong to the first group, but my experience tells me that there are still lots of people that belong to the second group.  They have no idea how much what comes out of their mouth is affecting their children.

If you are one of such people, it’s time to wake up to the 21st century and become aware of this.  This article is for you, so fasten your seat belt and read on.

What you Need to Understand about Children

The first thing you need to understand about children is that their brain is like a sponge.   It absorbs everything and anything you say and do.  To give you a literal example of this, that’s how “accents” are picked up.  You sound just like your parents and the people of the region you grew up in, because you’ve picked it up during that crucial age range between birth and 7 years old.  So, basically anywhere you will be moving to as an adult will not affect very much the way your speech has been shaped during those years.

Even when children seem like they’re not listening they are still very much observing you and taking it all in.  This is especially the case between zero and 7 years old, but it doesn’t mean that it stops after 7.  It just means that what you’ve taught your child, consciously or unconsciously, up to age 7 has become part of their most profound subconscious programming and it will stay there forever.  So, you’d better know what you’re doing in this regard.

Not only children will pick up on your words, but they will pick up on your actions and emotions as well.  For example, if you are someone very nervous and on edge all the time, your child will pick up on that and become very nervous and on edge as well.

When my father died in a car accident when I was only 5, my mother had a serious nerve break down and I really picked up on that.  I became very anxious and nervous just like my mother.  Children are little mirrors of you whether you are aware of it or not and whether you want it or not.

In the end, everything you teach your child during those crucial tender years will shape their character and personality and can be determinant in their whole life success pattern or lack of it.  With this in mind, wouldn’t you want to know what you should and shouldn’t tell to your kids?  Well, if you have or intend to have kids, you should.  Here are some things you should never tell your child.

Avoid the Word No

There is a simple word that you should try to say as seldom as possible, and is the word NO.  Now remember that we are talking about children here, so they shouldn’t be asking you, mom, can I smoke or use drug? Or dad, can I spend the night at my girlfriend’s?  So, avoiding to say the word “no” shouldn’t be that difficult, and when the answer is no, try to make it something else.

For example, if your child is asking you to step on that narrow edge of the step like fence (like my illustration above), tell them OK, but I will be holding your hand.  But do not say no.

If it’s something you really don’t want them to do, explain to them why it would be better if they didn’t and if possible offer them an other option,  but try not to say the word “no” with no explanation at all.  There is always a way around no.

Why Saying No is Not a Good Idea?

The word no tells your child subconscious mind that there are things than CANNOT be done, and that there are numerous limitations in the life. It tells there are things that they won’t be able to do.

In the end a simple seemingly innocent word such as “no” is responsible for a lot of lack of self confidence later on in life.  Why do you think that so many people have a lack of self confidence issue?  It all starts with very simple subconscious childhood programming such as the word no.

Stay Away From Degrading and Negative Words

Have you ever heard parents tell their children “you won’t ever amount to anything”?  They might as well hand them a rope to hang themselves.  This is the WORST thing you can ever tell your child, and if they heard that enough times (and it doesn’t have to be very many), I can assure you that they will struggle their whole life, and will most likely  never get to be someone with a career, with money or very successful in anything.

When you raise your kids telling them such negative statements you are giving them a life sentence.  They may need some therapy to get rid of such negative programming.

Avoid words such as you’re an idiot, you’re stupid, you’re ridiculous, so on and so forth.  For an adult brain to hear someone saying to you, you’re an idiot or you’re stupid it’s not a big deal, but for a child under 7 its literal brain programming.  If are feeding your kids such negative programming stop now!

Along with your Words Watch your Actions

This topic could be a post of its own, or even a book, but it’s worth mentioning it even briefly.  Not only will your words be programming your child’s subconscious, but your actions as well.  Actually your actions will speak volumes and the “do what I say, not what I do” doesn’t work with children.

They will do what you do first and what you say maybe.

If you want to create good habits that will serve your child when he or she grows up there is nothing like giving the example by your actions.

You can’t teach your children honesty by lying to them.  You can’t teach your children to be courageous by being afraid.   You can’t teach your children to be generous by being greedy yourself, and you can’t teach your children to do great things while you belittle them with chronic negative criticizing habits.

Having children is a blessing. Some people call it “a gift from God”. Raising children is a very serious matter where amateurs have not business.  Make sure you raise your children in the best possible mental upbringing.  In the end, it will serve them. It will serve you. And it will serve society. You will be glad you did.


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29 thoughts on “How Much Impact Do Your Words Have On Your Children?”

  1. Anyone who has contact with kids can benefit from this, Sylviane. Sometimes people don’t know any better but yes, you can definitely do harm to an impressionable young mind.

    I have the same feelings about the word no, and I had a lot of practice eliminating it when I was teaching! Of course the easiest thing to do is say no. The first thing you automatically do is say no. It’s like a knee-jerk reaction. I like to save no for serious situations like if there is danger. If I see a child going to touch a hot stove, for example, I would say no, but make it very firm and loud because you want them to know it’s serious and you need a quick, immediate reaction.

    But when it comes to regular behaviors, there are 2 things to keep in mind: (1) You should think in terms of “yes” when it comes to kids exploring and trying new things, just like you said with the father and daughter. And (2) Even if you need to say no, there are positive and productive ways to get the point across without a negative.

    I remember one of the big things we had to learn to do as teachers in my school at the time, was talk in positives. For example, if a child threw a block across the room, what would we normally think to say? No, or “don’t do that”. But instead we trained ourselves to say “Blocks are used for building. Let’s build with them instead.”

    Obviously if there is a dangerous situation then you have to be more serious (if a child is throwing a block at someone’s head!) but ordinarily you can direct behavior without negatives.

    Ok! So we’re on the same page 🙂 I think overall the more you train yourself to speak in a positive way, the less likely you are to use harmful worlds.

    Anyway I enjoyed this post because I think it’s a really important topic. Thanks for bringing it up!
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    1. Hi Carol,

      I knew that this article was not going to attract only parents, because not only parents have dealings with children. You used to be a teacher and I used to be a babysitter, so we still know plenty about kids, right?

      I am so glad that you were in a very smart school which understood the power of the word NO and tried to avoid it.

      When you mentioned a hot stove I remembered what my mother did to keep my away from from the stove. One day she turn the stove on and put my hand close enough so I could feel the heat and she said hot, hot, burn, burn fuff fuff fuff (a sound imitating fire/blowing, but in French 🙂 That was enough for me. Every time my mother was by the stove I’d say fuff fuff fuff hot hot hot. She actually didn’t have to say another word and actually never said no, but what she did was even more effective. However, saying no in such situations would be OK, but only then.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, and thanks for coming as always, Carol.

  2. Hey Sylviane,

    Well, you know that I’m in the same boat with you because I don’t have any children. The ones I have in my life are older now but I’ve always been very encouraging with them all. I’ve always been a very positive minded person too.

    My Mom and I still have these conversations and she is still of the mindset of the way she was raised. Not looking outside herself that she can be, do or have more. Being raised during the depression she learned a lot about lack. Although my mother has plenty, she acts as if she still hardly has anything.

    We all know that people can change if they want to but so many people aren’t willing. That’s really a shame so I hope that the majority of the parents today are learning these lessons that we have and encouraging their children throughout their lives.

    Wonderful post for anyone who has children or just have them in their lives.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Yes, we are the bunch right here. you, Carol and myself don’t have children, but we’re all here.

      The example of your mother goes to tell you how deep our subconscious programming can go. She has plenty, but her subconscious belief is still in the depression days.

      It was harder for people from her generation to challenge their upbringing than it is for us for some reasons, but they didn’t have the amount of easy access information that we have today. Maybe that’s part of the reasons.

      Thanks for your input here, Adrienne.

  3. Hi Sylviane,

    Reading through this post brought me back to my childhood where there was a lot of verbal abuse and emotional abuse.

    When I had my daughter, I was so aware of how words can hurt and even destroy a child’s life. I used my words carefully. If I was in a position to tell her not to do something, I would explain the situation. If it was something dangerous, I would explain the repercussion of the action to be taken and then ask her “Do you really want to do that?”

    Of course there were rules, but they were “House Rules” not mine. This diffused many situations. I always explained to her that when two or more people live together, there will sometimes be a conflict, but there will always be a compromise.

    I also believed in positive reinforcement. When she did a good behavior it was rewarded, even just a small thing.

    Words are powerful and so are actions. I never showed my daughter fear, or screamed. If there was something frightening I would hold in my emotion, take care of the situation, then let it all out when she wasn’t around lol.

    Children are like computers. Everything we say or do is in the “hard drive” – the subconscious. I made this effort in being careful because I didn’t want to pay for her therapy when she was 30 years old he he he.

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    1. Hi Donna,

      I love your illustration saying that what we say to children it’s like for computer it’s on their hard drive. I am glad that you used your own negative upbringing to avoid such mistakes on your own children.

      My mother did a lot of that too. There were not verbal abuse, in her household, but there were negativity and a few things that she hated. So, she made sure she did the opposite with her own kids.

      Thank you for your valuable input, Donna.

  4. Wonderful post Sylviane!

    I liked the fact that you raised this topic, which is rather unlike what you have posted here so far i think, because it IS an important one for those who have kids and are parents themselves. Or perhaps being a parent myself, I can well understand the importance of these words. 🙂

    I agree 100% to all that you have written. Being parents, we are the first role models for our kid’s and we might not realize it, but we affect them in every small way, and they are so-so quick to pick up things from us – whether they see us doing those things or not. Just as I had mentioned this quote in my last post, I think I should share it here too because as parents we need to watch every small step we take….and we need to notice how we think, speak, and act because we are noticed all the time!

    Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

    Use of negative words – no matter what they might be should always be avoided, though when they are young, we do use words like ‘no’ to stop them from doing things in order to teach them (like not picking up glassware or poking their fingers in a switch-board!). Kids as young as 2-3-4 year old perhaps need to be taught initially, though once they grow up and know the right from wrong, we need to refrain from using such words for sure. I guess they really won’t follow what we explain them when that young – isn’t it?

    Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us – an important lesson for parents. 🙂
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    1. I knew that you would like that one Harleena. It’s true that I haven’t necessarily written a post about children before, but I did mentioned many times in the past about the importance of what we feed to our children mentally. This time I wrote my whole post on the subject, because it really pertain to the theme of this blog.

      Thank you for adding those quotes, I love them.

      Even with very small children it’s possible to avoid the word “no” a lot of the times. As I was explaining to Carol, above, my mother found a better way to make me stay away from the stove than just say no. There are going to be some circumstances where it might not be possible, but as Carol said, “NO” is just the easy way out, that’s why people use it so much. There are other ways, but they require more thinking and maybe more time consuming.

      Thanks for your excellent feedbacks, Harleena.

  5. Hi Sylviane,

    Wonderful topic for anyone who engage with kids dear 🙂 I think it’s beyond parents too.

    I was used to hear NO most of the time at home and the risk taking was something I lack of. I’ve built a wall around myself.

    I can get what you mean by “Avoid the Word No” dear. That’s very tricky and especially for a child, that’s hurting (That’s how I felt :)). I still love to be a child and playful all the time with much freedom. Now I take risks through my own decisions and with lot of support from right people around me.

    Even when I spend time with children, I see how they follow me instead of what I say. They follow us first as you mentioned Sylviane 🙂 That’s something need to remember and when they start loving us more, they start to follow what we say too 🙂 Though I’m not a parent yet, I’ve learnt ’em while spending some time with ’em.

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    1. Hi Mayura,

      Like many people, you are someone who heard the word no a lot while growing up and you can tell for yourself that it’s not the best thing to do, right?

      Well, since you are still a young man, when you have children make sure to avoid the word “NO”.

      Thanks for your visit and feedbacks, Mayura 🙂

  6. I don’t have kids either, Sylviane, but I have seen the impact of cruel words on the kids I have worked with – both street children and children in schools. I’m not sure why there is never a course for parents – to learn to mind their words and actions around kids. I feel very strongly on this subject – thank you for writing about it so articulately.
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    1. Hi Corine,

      Like you, even though I do not have kids I feel very strongly on this subject and I have sometimes witnessed parents saying things to their kids without realizing the long term effects that such statements would cause.

      Thanks for coming here and sharing your thoughts with us.

  7. Hi Sylviane,

    This is really an amazing post gem-packed with value. You are spot on about everything parents need to be aware of when dealing with their children. Their words and their actions.

    I am a mother of 3 kids, 2 of them are already teen ages and the youngest is 12 yrs old and I wish I found such a post early on. I am coming from a middle eastern culture where parents used to be very conservative and over protective when it comes to their children and so I heard the word “NO” a lot but at the end of the day, we believed that they are doing the right thing to protect us but when I had my children, I had them here in Canada and it is an open culture unlilke ours and I am glad I learned to give my children the freedom of choice or getting around the no in some other ways but I have to admit that sometimes the rooted programming comes to the surface and I said no. Now, my children are old enough and I respect their choices and if something needs my opinion, I just give it but at the end, it is their choice.

    Thanks Sylviane for such a wonderful post. I really enjoyed it very much.

    Be Blessed,

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    1. Hi Neamat,

      Sorry for taking so long in replying to your comment. I am usually so busy during the week that I need a rest from the computer over the week end.

      I didn’t know you were in Canada.

      I know what you mean about cultural programming. We all have it, no matter where we come from, but some cultures are stronger, so to speak, and their beliefs not the best for raising children. How great that your children were raised with more open minded parents who understood the power of the word no.

      Thank you for coming.

  8. HI Sylviane

    Amazing post!

    I myself have undergone this many times during my childhood days when my parents were alive, they use to say NO to most of the things I dare to do, and that resulted in me becoming more shy and introvert who didn’t have the courage to talk to the strangers and to certain extent to my colleagues in my first job.

    It took hell lot of the time to come out the shell.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Hi Sapna,

      Thank you for giving us your story here which illustrates so well what parents do to their children when they say no. Espeically when they they no most of the times.

      By avoid such negative word we raise more confident children giving them a head start in life.

  9. Hi Slyviane,

    Great wisdom! Particularly about focusing on our action. If we want to create good habits that will serve our children, we need to live by example.

    It is great that we SAY that we would aim high and achieve a certain goal. It is only when we TAKE ACTION that the goal can be reached. Introduce positive vocabularies and work ethics. Help children to form the ‘habit of saying backed by doing’ is the best way to empower them for life!

    Thanks, Slyviane 🙂

    Viola The Business Mum
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    1. Hi Viola,

      Thank you for coming by and I’m glad you enjoyed this. Indeed actions are very important as your children my not listen to you, but they will observe you.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Children are really fast at grasping the words used by the adults or anything which is happening in their surroundings. It’s not that the children will learn only what their adults will teach them, they have their own brains and thinking. It thus becomes very crucial to behave appropriately in front of kids keeping into consideration their tender age and heart. I completely agree that we should never use the word No, instead encourage your kid to reach heights. Thanks for the share.

  11. Very inspiring post. As a parent, we are the first teacher and a role model of our children. We should really be cautious with our words and actions because what we show to them will always get back to us.
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  12. I agree completely. Those 7 years of early life are what we call the formative years and very crucial to a child’s development towards adult life. The child’s subconscious will retain all that has happened during this period and will create great impact on how s/he will face life’s challenges later.

  13. Children learn what they see and hear. They have a very keen observation and this we realised when my nephew pointed out his parents’ fight and their harsh language in the middle of a family dinner.

  14. Oh my gosh!

    This article totally hit home with me. I have two daughters 9 and 5 and I have potty mouth that I have been working very hard to pay attention to.

    Unfortunately I realized I wasn’t watching what I say well enough when my 5 years old at dinner said daddy this dinner is bull sh%^

    …Both and my wife’s jaw dropped!
    well ever since then I have been very careful to watch the words I say around my kids.

    Great article..
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    1. Hi Larry and welcome here!

      Well, there you have it!

      Your experience with your daughter goes to show you. I’m sure you know by now that children are just little mirrors of their parents, and what you do and say (even things you’re not aware that you do and say) will be in the mouth and actions of your children.

      I’m glad you found my post and could be reminded how important it is to be watchful of ourselves with our kids.

  15. Hello Sylviane.

    This is really informative. Though, I am not married. I work as a teaching volunteer at an organization, where we teach the orphans and educate them. I always love being with them. Kids are so sweet hearted. Whenever, I shout at them, they come to me with a cute face and make me smile with their words and actions.

    This post is really helpful to me.

    Thanks a ton!
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    1. Hi Koundeenya and nice seeing your here,

      Well, if you work with kids, this article is for you as well, so I am glad you came by and enjoy it.

      No doubt kids are watching adults, so beware 🙂

  16. Hey Sylviane ,
    Thanks for another enlightening share . I could relate to each word of the share as being a mom I experience it everyday that kids are like a sponge , they absorb each and every word and action of the elders
    .If we as parents ever break our words or contradict ourselves in front of our children they expect us to explain the reasons and this should never be overlooked.
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