In one of my books, "Parent In Style" I share that parents are the potters and children are the clay. We are molding kids everyday with every word we say and with every action we take. How often do we find ourselves yelling or expressing our frustration with our kids—only to realize we might have been too harsh? Consider how the sharp and admonishing words impact their sense of self. In my parenting class, I teach adults how to reframe their words so children can listen without being crushed emotionally. When we talk down to them over and over again because by nature kids make mistakes the criticism lends itself to developing their self-image. If we started talking to them as though we like them we can shift how they view themselves.
We have to decide how we want to support our children's future because we can either build kids or repair adults. Unwittingly, we often teach them to respect elders, do as their told, never to talk back and to know adults are always right. This mentality conditions children to disregard their own impressions of reality and adopt the adults' perception. This would perhaps be okay if all adults were healthy but so often there are those who aren't but young-developing minds don't understand how to discern the unhealthy criticism and are unable to separate what is true and what is not. I once had a 14-year old boy tell me he was a bad kid but when challenged as to why, he could not verbalize one trait that would prove he was bad. He was unable to backup his claim with facts. The only reason he bought into the propaganda was because the adults around him indoctrinated this young man to accept he was worthless, useless and undeserving. I once read children have no power and they know it, but adults have power and don't know it. There is a reason for this self-imposed restriction: everything we believe about ourselves is rooted in childhood and transferrable to adulthood. Therefore, it would behoove us all to choose our words and deeds carefully so children have the ability to keep their esteem intact, like themselves as much as we like them so they can grow into healthy adults.