How one word changed everything for my little daughter?

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”

– Peggy O’mara
Effective communication in Parenting

My little one will turn 2 in a month. She is learning to speak while also achieving so many other physical milestones. How amazing it is to see her grow a little bit more every second! Like most kids, her strategy to converse with us is to often repeat what we’re saying. And undoubtedly therefore, the most common word she uses is ‘NO’!

Every time I hear her say ‘No’ to my instructions, I regret telling her ‘No’ for so many of her requests and adventurous pursuits. Thankfully, this has made me even more conscious about the words I use with her now.

Often, she would ask to do some things independently, like wear her shoes, or comb her hair, or every other task that I do. So to discourage her, I would say, (in our mother tongue) “No, Babykya pattathilla” which means, “No Baby, you can’t do this.”

Then I noticed that, each time, she tried doing something on her own, she would give up within a few seconds and say, “pattathilla (I can’t)”. When I heard her say this a few times in a few situations is when this quote by Peggy O’mara struck me hard!

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” – Peggy O’mara

And for a second, I was taken aback by the power of these words. I could immediately relate this to my own experiences from the past – when I didn’t give something a shot, or I gave up too quickly, or when I tried to be the best or perfect in everything. I realized how true this quote is.

When we are faced with challenging situations, or may be even routine situations in daily life – if we listen closely, the very first voices we hear are either our Dad’s words or our Mom’s or some authority figure we are really close to.

Sometimes, these words encourage us. But at times, those voices discourage us from taking some of the best risks. Can’t blame them though – as a parent now, I know that the synonym of ‘overprotective’ is ‘parents’!!

What I have learnt though, is that at times, those very first voices we are programmed to hear must be over-ridden so that we only regret the mistakes we made, and not the risks we never took! A lot of times, those risks pay off really beautifully.

And so, in an attempt, to test Peggy O’mara’s thought in reality – I tried to ‘reprogram’ my little baby with the change of a single word.

Each time, she would ask me to do something that I think she can’t but is safe enough for her to try, I would say something like, “Baby try cheithe, Pattum which means “Try it Baby, you can!” Or if it was something that she definitely should not try now, rather than saying she can’t, I would say, “Once you grow up, you can” that is “Baby vellitha aakumbol, Pattum”.

And to my surprise (or no surprise), she picked it up!

She has been learning to remove her shoes herself. While earlier, she would try and give up pretty quickly – after this little change I made – I hear her say,”Pattum (I can)” and trying hard before she calls me for help.

As I write this, she has now kind of mastered the skill which could also be because she’s grown by a few months from the time she started trying, but what stays with me is her word,”Pattum.”

A word good enough to help me remember what kind of voice I want to be for her!

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