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

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