The messages we receive as children

I’ve changed a lot in the last 5 years.

Having my children has made me a much more outgoing, open person I think.

For years I’ve told myself that I’m a shy person, that I’m not great at making small talk and chatting to new people.

And I’ve realised recently that since having Rhys that’s just not true any more.  I would call myself an introvert still, but I’m not sure I can claim to be shy any more.

And realising this has made me think about one of the questions in the pack of coaching cards for new parents that I reviewed a little while back.

new-parent-coaching-cards

“What messages did you receive about yourself as a child? To what extent have these messages stuck with you or become true?”

One of the main messages I received about myself as a child is that I was shy.  

As a baby I used to hide under my blanket in the pram if someone tried to talk to me.  I am naturally an introvert and growing up this was displayed in me being shy, and feeling nervous talking to new people and in front of people.

I don’t think my parents used to tell other people that I was shy that much, so I wasn’t labelled with that word as such.

But the message was reinforced in other ways.

My big sister has always been very protective of me, and would do things for me like making phone calls and dealing with situations that were tricky for me.  And, as a child and a teenager, I was incredibly grateful for that.

It made my life much easier and took a lot of stress from me.

But I have wondered at times if maybe it also subtly sent me the message that I’m shy, and need someone to handle things for me.

I’m certain that that’s a message I kept telling myself, long after I grew up and started needing to do things for myself.

It’s taken me becoming a parent to finally break free of that ‘story’ that I told myself for all those years.

The other message I received about myself as a child was that I was stroppy.

To be fair, I was a pretty stroppy child at times.  I would storm off and sulk like a pro.

I don’t think that message stuck with me to any great extent though.  I think I was just a child trying to work out how to handle various social situations and often that came out in a mood where I wouldn’t want to interact with anyone for a while.

I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision on my parents’ part, but I don’t remember really being labelled as anything in particular growing up.  I certainly don’t think I had any real pressure on me to live up to a label, or to try and rebel against one!

This is definitely something I’m aware of now I’m a parent though.  

I try very hard to be careful with the words I use to describe my children.  And I will make an effort to talk about their actions and efforts, rather than THEM as a person.

I’ve never liked hearing a child being called ‘naughty’ for example.

I sit in the camp that feels you should express that the behaviour is naughty, not the child.

What about you?  Were you given a particular label or message about yourself as a child that is still with you today?  How aware are you of the labels you give your children? 

Mummascribbles

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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31 Comments

  1. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) 04/10/2016 / 3:57 pm

    It’s really hard thinking about the things we say and the way it can affect our kids. I know I’ve been affected by things people said to me when I was growing up (being told I had my mum’s big hips, being called thunder thighs by a friend of my brothers, being told be a teacher that I wasn’t as clever as my brother) so I try to be careful of things I say, but we are all human and make mistakes so it is a difficult one! #twinklytuesday

    • This glorious life 05/10/2016 / 11:12 am

      It’s so hard isn’t it, and so often we say things as a joke that end up really playing on a child’s mind. All we can do is try and be aware though. I’m sorry you heard such nasty things about yourself as a child, how awful for a teacher to say something like that!

  2. Imogen 04/10/2016 / 8:30 pm

    You never needed someone to handle things for you there were just times as your big sister that if I could ease the pressure or help out then I did. You certainly didn’t need me to, you have always been more than capable of dealing with any situation. I have always been protective of you not because I don’t think you can look after yourself or cos I think you need protecting. I am protective of you cos you have always been my baby and I love you! You are awesome. You always have been and you always will be. Take that label! Xxxxx

  3. The Tale of Mummyhood 05/10/2016 / 11:52 am

    This is a great post. It’s so important to really think about what we are saying to our children, they are like little sponges.

    #BloggerClubUK

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 8:27 pm

      They really are aren’t they, they take it all in. x

  4. Becky, Cuddle Fairy 05/10/2016 / 4:48 pm

    I totally agree about being careful about not labeling children! They can really take the label on as their identity & live up to it! I’m not sure what I was as a child – maybe competitive & bossy lol neither applies now of course 😉 x

  5. Relentlesslypurple 08/10/2016 / 10:43 pm

    I’ve never really though about this before! I was always the shy quiet one that didn’t like to bother people with my head in a book.. Not much has changed except it’s mostly my phone unstead of a book these days. I do tell my eldest she’s chatty but I also back it up with the fact it’s because she absorbs information which is an amazing skill.. Hopefully that sticks 🙂 x #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 8:26 pm

      I love that you give her more to go on, that builds her up! x

  6. Becky - Educating Roversi 08/10/2016 / 11:09 pm

    As a teacher this is something I’ve had training on to a degree, the idea of their behaviour being annoying/stupid/dangerous etc, not them as a person. I think it’s massively important to let children grow to be the people they want to be. #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 8:26 pm

      So nice to hear that this is something teachers are being made aware of, so often you speak to people and hear that they were told such nasty things by their teachers that still sticks with them so many years later. x

  7. Savannah 09/10/2016 / 5:29 am

    I think this is such a great message to share. It is sooo important to be conscious of the things we say to our children. I once read a quote that said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” And, I really do think that’s true!

    I try not to label my son, and I know that as he grows, it may become more difficult, but I think it’s important to keep in mind. I was also labeled as shy as a child, and now I really don’t identify with that label much at all. Thanks for sharing! <3 #KCACOLS

  8. Crummy Mummy 09/10/2016 / 10:48 am

    I was always labelled as a rusher who does this quickly, without thinking. I don’t think that’s strictly true – prefer to think of myself as impulsive!! #KCACOLS

  9. Angela Watling 09/10/2016 / 1:42 pm

    A really interesting read. I have pondered over this topic before as well. I try so hard to not do things which make my daughter believe she is one thing or another simply because I tell her so. Your point about ‘naughty’ is something I definitely agree with. I tell my daughter that what she did was naughty, not that she is a naughty girl…because she’s a little sweetheart who sometimes goes too far! #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 8:23 pm

      The ‘naughty’ one really does get to me, it’s just not a nice label at all for a child to start to believe about themselves. x

  10. emma me and b 09/10/2016 / 4:07 pm

    hmm this is a really interesting post and when I think back to being a child, I was always labelled shy, quiet, anxious. and I still am anxious sometimes to some extent. but shy and quiet, not really. but im def not an extrovert. ive really been trying not to tell my son that he is being a baby – sometimes I really think he is but like you said, I don’t want to label him, but more his behaviour. ive been really careful with how I word things and trying to be more positive to encourage him to try something that is out of his comfort zone – I don’t want him growing up being fearful of everything – like I was! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!

  11. Ali Duke 09/10/2016 / 4:30 pm

    I was called chatty a lot as a child. My dad always said I could talk the hind legs off a donkey lol. I try not to label my kids, they are individuals.
    #KCACOLS

  12. Alex Fihema 09/10/2016 / 6:49 pm

    I could see how labels could affect children in a negative way. Reading this post has made me think if we do label our children.
    More than anything we call them funny or kooky but never anything that can be misconstrued as negative or damaging to their self esteem.
    We have lost our temper a few times and said some things we regret, but we sat them down after and explained what we did was wrong, however, what they did made us feel this way and that….
    Most of the time I believe that it’s other children that give each other labels that can affect a person in the long run #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 8:23 pm

      Very good point, so much is said to our children by other people. I suppose we can’t stop them completely from being labelled. x

  13. Maria 09/10/2016 / 11:40 pm

    I was always told I was “independent and responsible” when I was growing up but this was largely because I looked after my younger brother and sister a lot. Looking back,I was obviously still a child myself who was given a lot of responsibility at a young age! It’s not something I would ever want to expect of my children. A very interesting post. #KCACOLS

  14. flying solo 10/10/2016 / 12:08 pm

    My Dad always told me what a useless parent I am (the one that hurt the most) and a rich statement coming from him. He always made me feel that all of his failings were my fault, or my mothers and now she is no longer with us, my fault again! He never had anything nice to say to me in fact (which is why I no longer have a relationship with him) My business studies teacher always made me feel like I was under achieving too , her face was a picture when she greeted me to collect my GCSE results and I was the highest achiever and went on to run my own succesful Business’s (and two fingers up to my dad, my children have been parented very well) I have been guilty no matter how hard I tried not to of occasionally giving my children a label (lazy and bone idle spring to mind) but they are both well balanced hard working kids now! #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 6:36 pm

      Oh wow, I can understand why you chose to no longer have a relationship with your Dad. I’m so sorry you were told those things, that are so clearly not true. But love that you had that satisfying experience of basically being able to stick two fingers up at both the people who questioned you and your abilities. x

  15. Amie 10/10/2016 / 1:27 pm

    I think this is a really important topic actually. I never really thought about the things we call our children like when I call Amelia a monkey, or very loud but I wouldn’t want my view of her to cloud her actual personality. That’s for making me really think 🙂 #KCACOL

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 6:30 pm

      I think we all do it sometimes though don’t we, it’s just a case of trying to be aware and to say ‘you’re being loud’ rather than ‘you ARE loud’! x

  16. Louise 10/10/2016 / 3:40 pm

    I totally agree about labelling, i don’t think you should tell your child they’re something like shy or loud, because they then feel they should live up to this behaviour. I am very shy when I meet new people, but having a child has definitely helped. I never remember my parents calling me shy though. An interesting read #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 10/10/2016 / 6:29 pm

      That’s it isn’t it, it’s quite a complex area. Because a lot of the time, we just are a certain way. I think it’s just a case of being aware of the words we use with our children and trying to make sure they know they’re so much more than any labels they might be given.

  17. The Hippy Christian Mum 12/10/2016 / 7:59 pm

    Really interesting topic for a post. Great food for thought. My daughter gets told she is a chatterbox and it grates on me terribly. #KCACOLS

  18. Gabriela Green 13/10/2016 / 11:52 am

    My mom told me that when I started talking (not only sounds and syllables ) she was seeing me, when I thought I am alone ,whispering new the words until I was able to say them the right way. Somehow I was too shy to pronounce the words incorrectly and I didn’t like to be corrected. This still applies now when I am adult trying lo learn new languages 😀 #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 13/10/2016 / 6:37 pm

      Oh that’s so sweet! And I love that it’s just such a clear part of your nature! x

  19. Alan Herbert 15/10/2016 / 12:56 am

    Yes it’s so important not to give our children labels that may adversely affect them as they grow.

    Great post.

    #kcacols

  20. Michelle 17/10/2016 / 4:07 am

    Nice thoughts, Madeline. Funny, one label I was given was “smart.” But I knew then and I know now I was just good at getting “A”s. I had them all fooled. 😉 And I still today have much more to learn. #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life 19/10/2016 / 7:33 pm

      It’s funny isn’t it, even a ‘good’ label like smart can sit awkwardly with us! x

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