Language shapes our worldview.
The narratives we hear around us influence our perceptions and understandings of ourselves and the world around us.
Let us look at growth mindset. One of the primary tools for fostering a growth mindset is changing how we talk about ourselves and our life. We need to adapt a language of praise and positive feedback to how we address failures and difficulties. Simple shifts of language and praise towards our children will hold immense power in the child’s view of themself and will empower them to build confidence and resilience, to enhance their opportunities in life.
Stigma is powered by language. So is acceptance.
We should try to be aware and aim to remove the non-intentional derogatory language - such as crazy, silly, and weird - from our everyday speech. When what is meant is that the child’s behaviour/ situation is unbelievable, unusual, or unexpected. These changes may seem small, but when they are heard many times a day they develop a meaning for the young person.
With mental health continuing to rise, using language that accurately describes what we are trying to say, rather than falling back onto “figures of speech”, will help minimise unnecessary impacts on young people’s mental health and foster a more attuned sensitive approach to where they are at. For example, changing “you are so OCD” to “I notice how you like to be organised”.
We are shaped by the words we hear, see and use. Let us make a conscious effort to help our children be the best versions of themselves they can possibly be.
By Demelza Wall