Many things a parent does & says affects their children, often in ways that don’t manifest until much later in their life. Most of us are familiar with the “clean your plate” addage, and what about the even better one: “There are starving children in Africa!” I never did understand the connection.
We know words have power. My son and other kids I’ve helped raise have all heard me say that words can hurt worse than fists. Because of this I never say a question or an action is stupid. Instead it’s silly or a poor choice. All kids are good kids, and sometimes they make poor choices, just like adults. We don’t have punishments in our home, we have consequences. Every action has a consequence. Good choices produce good consequences. You get the idea.
But what are these magical four words I alluded to? “I believe in you.” This is even more important for children with special needs as they often live in a world where they are different, can’t do the same things as other children, etc. I saw this most powerfully with one of my foster kids. He had been having a rough time at school, and so the next day when I dropped him off I asked him if he was going to have a better day today. He said yes, and I said: “I know you will because I believe in you.” He looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “You do?” he asked me stunned. “Yep. I know you’re wonderful, and I believe in you.” I’ve seen this work with Tigger many times. He’ll come to me with a situation believing he can’t do it. I tell him I know he can do it, and I believe in him. Like magic he’s suddenly successful.
When we believe in our children and let them know that, we empower them, give them confidence, and teach them independence. Even after a run of particularly . . . poor choices, telling them we believe in them helps them know they haven’t damaged the relationship.
Lately I’ve been hearing from several parents who are astonished at our upcoming trip. “I could never do that,” they tell me. Of course you can! I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I’ve come to the point where, like “can’t,” I’ve also eliminated never from my vocabulary. I encourage you to do so as well. And even though I may not know you, and we’ve never met, and I can honestly tell you to go ahead, beat the challenge, break down that obstacle, climb your mountain. You can do it. I believe in you.