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The power of words on your child


“Words convey meaning. Words communicate intent, purpose and significance. We give definition to things by the words we speak. We label and influence perception by the words we speak. The power of words is in its ability to shape how we think, interact and act towards a thing or entity,” parenting expert and Founder, 2Nurture, Bukola Afolabi, said.

The words one speaks to oneself, others, and in the sensitive case of parenting, your children, can shape how they think and feel about themselves as well as the words they speak about themselves, and eventually, the actions they take.

“Words can shape who kids think they are and how they perceive themselves. Also, who we think we are defines how we live, what we can attempt to do, and what we think we are capable of.”


Afolabi said that this calls for consistency from parents. The truth is, there can be no void. Kids would always gain a sense of self, whether we are aware or deliberate or not. Kids will form opinions about who they think they are, by the actions or inactions of those in their environment or those they interact with, by the words spoken to them or about them, and we can’t always control what these will be.

We can’t control how everyone our children come in contact with, speak or act towards them, we can’t control the actions or inactions of others and we can’t even completely, control how our kids will interpret our actions, words or inactions. Hence the need to set out to deliberately influence their self-perception by the words we speak.

“Let’s consistently speak confidence-building and esteem-nurturing words to them. We should be deliberate about it, such that our children are aware of exactly what we are doing. Let’s tell them they are good, awesome, magnificent and capable of great things. When we do this, we are not just talking about what currently is. We are deliberately imprinting a grand vision of who they are and who they can become in our children’s mind. If speaking negatively to a child or labeling can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, why don’t we, then, let the self-fulfilling prophecy for our kids be the positive, and when it is fulfilled, we can joyfully say: “I knew you would do great things.”

Afolabi added: “Whenever you are angry with your kids, don’t call them derogatory names or what you don’t want them to be. Don’t say: “You are a liar, you are a stubborn child. Instead, use your words to invoke a higher perception of him in your child’s mind. Words like: ‘You are way smarter than that’, ‘I know you can do better than that’. Try as much as you can to stay ‘positively angry’ and don’t trample on your child’s esteem because you are angry with them.

“With words, we can create a grand vision for our children to aspire or we can kill their ambition and self-worth. We definitely can uplift, equip and empower with our words. Let’s make the commitment to do so. Words used repeatedly or spoken constantly, could form or influence a child’s pattern of thought. Our lives can’t be better than the content of our minds. It is what we think, how we think, what we know, and what we believe that shape our lives to a large extent. And, these thoughts and knowledge in our minds are largely influenced by the words we hear. It is therefore important to be careful about the words we speak to and about our children, because it slips into their minds and shape their lives.

“It takes a lot to nurture our kids with words and we have intentional ones. Make sure that you say everything worth saying to your kids, let your words count. Let the remembrance of the words you speak to your kids ignite hope, strength, wisdom and possibilities in them and not fear, doubt or despair. Be the voice of positivity that echoes in their minds decades from now.”

In this article:
2NurtureBukola Afolabi
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