Have you ever wondered why children express their emotions so differently? One child will throw a screaming, kicking, fists-banging on the floor tantrum, and another will sob quietly. There is no doubt that children handle their frustrations differently. According to object relations theory, the various ways that children manage their emotions has a lot to do with the voices they hear in their head. In this post, we provide positive parenting tips to cheer your child on, even when you’re not around.
Keep reading, and you’ll see what I mean.
Positive Parenting Tips to Encourage Your Child—Even When You’re Not Around!
Country music singer Chris Young describes this experience in his song “Voices.” This song is all about the wise advice that Chris received from various family members during his childhood. Chris describes how these “voices” continue to play in his head and influence his life as an adult. If you haven’t heard this song before, I encourage you to listen to it. Voices is an excellent example of what goes on in the minds of our children. You can play the song and read the lyrics here: Voices.
According to object relations theory, human beings internalize the voices of others. In Chris’s case, these voices were positive, encouraging influences. Sadly, the voices that many children hear drag them down. Object relations theory suggests that children react differently to similar events because, although the events are the same, the internalized voices are much different. One child will miss a shot on the basketball court and hear his dad scream, “How could you miss such an easy shot? Can’t you do anything right!” Another child will hear his father shout, “Keep going, son. Try it again!” Object relations uses the word “introjects” to describe the people, phrases, and voices that children internalize.
The three positive parenting tips in this post are all about becoming that ongoing positive voice inside your child’s head!
What are Your Child’s Introjects Saying?
Everyone hears voices. They may not be audible, but they are real. Parents need to understand that their voice will follow their children everywhere. The big question is, “Will your parenting voice help or haunts your child?” Parents who use positive parenting skills give their child the gift of introjects that cheer them on throughout their lifetime.
As a therapist, one of my jobs is to help children internalize new voices. One way that I do this is by repeating simple phrases at relevant times during our sessions. Helping children internalize new and helpful introjects is something that any parent, coach, or mentor can do. Here are three of my favorite scripts.
Positive Parenting Tips:
Here are three simple positive parenting tips. Use these introjects to encourage your child on for a lifetime!
Introject #1: “Oops, maybe next time.”
What will your child’s internal dialogue say when he or she makes a mistake? Some kids hear:
- “You can’t do anything, right?”
- “You failed, and you will always be a failure.”
- “What a loser!”
I would suggest that a far better script is, “Oops, maybe next time.” I like this phrase for two reasons:
- First, it acknowledges that a mistake has been made.
- Second, it recognizes that there will be another opportunity in the future.
When my children do poorly on a school assignment, I hope that one of their first thoughts is, “Oops, I can do better next time,” As a result, they study harder. I don’t want them to mentally beat themselves up or to wallow in misery. Instead, my desire is that they address the problem and move on. I know that my children’s lives will be filled with plenty of “Oops.” Mistakes happen. The important thing is to learn from them, pick ourselves up, and try again.
Introject #2: Go Slow, be patient, and take your time.”
For several years, I facilitated a domestic violence group for adults. Many of the men and women in these groups had kind and engaging personalities. However, when they became upset, these adults also had a voice in their heads that relentlessly screamed:
- “This is wrong and must be fixed now.”
- “I can’t be treated this way. I must be respected.”
- “No one can talk to me like that. I’ll show him.”
Kids who tantrum and get into fights may be hearing similar voices. The common theme with all these introjects is twofold:
- Something is wrong.
- It must be fixed immediately.
Acting on impulse is rarely helpful. The phrase, “Go slow, be patient, and take your time,” is all about helping kids internalize the importance of slowing down. In fact, when I speak these words, I’ll recite them in a slow, calming manner. Our children will have many upsetting moments during the course of their life. This is a part of being human. Often, frustrations will not be able to be resolved quickly. Nevertheless, a great deal of these problems will work themselves out over time. Wise parents help their children internalize patience. This is what the phrase, “Go slow, be patient, and take your time,” is all about.
Introject #3: “Take care of business, then go have fun.”
Does your child struggle with completing routine tasks, such as homework and chores? If so, then you will want to help your child internalize the phrase, “Take care of business, then go have fun.” You might do this by reminding your child daily, “Remember honey, in our home, we take care of business, then have fun. So be sure to get all of your homework done before playing video games.”
Repeat this simple phrase often enough, and your voice will stay with your child for a lifetime. Years down the road, your child may be in college and have to decide between finishing an assignment or attending a party. Suddenly–although you are many miles away–your voice will pop into the head of your young adult. He will hear you say, “Our family takes care of business, then we have fun.” Then, he or she will buckle down and complete the assignment before going out.
Continue the Conversation
It’s important to remember that the words we parents speak to our kids will stay with them for years to come. Good parents choose their words wisely. How about you, are there any positive parenting tips or key ideas you are intentionally passing on to your own children? If so, please share them in the comments below. We love picking up new ideas!