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Our Children’s Inner Voice

Posted on Communication, Parenting, Self-Esteem January 20, 2016 by Mary George

     In our workshops and presentations we sometimes talk about how "we are our children's inner voice." As parents we try hard to instill a sense of goodness, confidence and integrity to help guide our children throughout their lives to make thoughtful, positive decisions. We do this through our everyday role modeling and communication with them. When we talk to them about situations as they arise, we can discuss what happens when they make one decision verses the other. We hope that this will help teach them how to think through situations thus giving them powerful decision making skills. But what about the many hours of the day that our children are with other adults? What are our children's "inner voices" hearing and learning from them? 

     Times have definitely changed in the classroom environment as I feel most teachers today work hard to help build our children's self esteem. They walk a fine line between teaching, understanding learning styles and disciplining. The days of considering a strict teacher a good teacher are no longer. I can remember when I was a child having teachers that I was afraid to ask questions to because of fear of being ridiculed and put down. Or the teachers who clearly did not like student in the class and they made it apparent. Teaching has evolved to understanding the whole child which is an incredibly difficult job. I commend the many teachers who take it on because that understanding of MY children is what will guide them towards their strengths and help them gain confidence to believe that they can do whatever it is that they put their mind to doing. Their teachers also become our children's inner voice. 

     One of the more questionable areas that our children must navigate is having coaches with many different styles. Children and adults respond differently to how a person speaks to them in any environment. For some reason though some of us tend to think that a coach who yells and berates is a right of passage. "It happened to me, it's going to happen to him." I realize that I am not a person who played sports at a high level but why is this attitude so pervasive in sports? Is it supposed to make them tough? Yes, some people are motivated by being yelled at but my guess is that most are not. We recently had a situation in which one of our kids and his team was yelled at and berated by their coach. As a mother, it was excruciating to watch. My child's body language was such that he clearly was terrified to make a mistake for fear of the coach's wrath. Some of the children on the team (yes, children- 10 and under) would rather not be put in the game because they would be yelled at by the coach. What do our children gain for this experience? What from this experience becomes their "inner voice?" Obviously this became a teaching moment for us to talk with our son about but at his young age why can we not just say "go have fun?" He is still at such a wonderful, naive age that he thinks that he will either go to the NBA or NFL but with a coach like he had, his belief in himself gets crushed and his love of the game becomes muddled with disdain for what he calls his "mean coach." Not to mention a happy, 10 year old's dream begins to die a bit. 

     We, personally, do not believe that our children should get a trophy for showing up and we are not helicopter parents. I do think though that it is important for our children to build positive self esteem at an early age to help them navigate circumstances and make good decisions as they grow up and throughout their lives. I want their "inner voice" to be loud and strong with confidence and integrity. 

—Mary & Claire

 

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