“Screw you!!!” The words flew out of my mouth before I had even thought it through. I placed my hands over my lips with widened eyes. I wasn’t the kind to use swear words and especially to someone older than me. How then did they find a way to the tip of my tongue in the heat of anger?
I grew up in a home where we were taught by positive example as well as instruction not to insult and definitely not to swear. Swear words weren’t in our “dictionary of daily conversations”. But I had a friend in high school who had a few favourite swear words. In our associations she had used those words on people and I had found it entertaining. I didn’t think I would ever be so rude to do likewise but you see… I did. Somewhere in my mind the phrase had been stored as an appropriate expression for anger and when my guard was low it came out.
Our brains are like sponges under pressure we release what we have soaked in previously. Our kids are no different. Children between the ages of 0 and 7 are in the character formative years. They are learning and exploring and building their characters based on the information they perceive. Children associate words and facial expressions used to express emotions and at the “right time” they reflect those lessons learnt.
Have you hit a 3-year-old for doing something wrong before? Some hit you back some don’t. But to express their disapproval at you for hitting them, they say various things. And those are the very words they have heard adults say to them when displeased or angry. It’s amazing that they use words in similar context not in an out-of-place context. Different children say different things when angry. This is not because they were engineered at birth with different vocabulary, rather it is because they are influenced by various associations.
This is why children carrying out role plays in their childish dramas are able to speak like a model for the character they play. This could be their Father, Teacher, Pastor as the case may be.
Parenthood teaches us about the power of influence and association on young mind. It is our responsibility to take extra care to guide what our children listen to and who they spend time with. You certainly cannot turn your kids to hermits. You cannot disassociate them from people but you can limit the negative influence they are exposed to to the barest minimum and enhance their positive vocabulary by using positive words always around them.
Remember it is not only what you say but how you say it. Children are the clearest mirrors that reveal your character!
Written by Adebusoye Damilola
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