No name calling!
Toddlers are on an endeavour to understand the world and themselves. They tend to quickly believe what we tell them (directly and indirectly) about themselves and the world.
The foundation of self-concept- an idea of themselves that will inform their entire life- is built at this age. Therefore, it becomes absolutely important to separate what they do (their actions which can be good/bad, desirable/undesirable etc.) from who they are (their self-concept which should be untouched by the ideas of good/bad). For example, we can point out that a particular action of the child is causing harm but the child is good enough and worthy of love irrespective of that. (more on how to communicate this in upcoming posts)
It is also important not to give them adjectives which define them in negative terms. If we call the child stubborn (हट्टी /जिद्दी) for acting adamantly, remember, the child absorbs that as a part of their self-concept which becomes the reason to act more stubborn.
It also stops us from recognizing the child’s developing strength. If we take another perspective, the stubbornness of a child also indicates their clarity of thought and the will to stand by that thought. If nurtured, this can be a strong life skill. Instead of calling them adamant, what if we help them channelize this clarity and will?
- Write three negative adjectives which you tend to use for your child.
- Think of the person you highly respect.
- Imagine this person having the above listed qualities.
- How would you describe the same qualities in that person from a positive perspective in positive words?
- Eg. A crybaby can be translated as closely connected to their emotions
- Make a similar list of negative adjectives which you use for yourself and follow the same steps.