I'm a nail biter... well, sort of. I control it now by having my nails done professionally every couple of weeks. If I don't have shellac or SNS on my nails ( acrylic is too damaging for my nails) I chew and chew and pick and pick until I have nothing left. I only have to come across a rough patch in my current work in progress and my fingers creep into my mouth. Terrible habit, I know, but I've done it since I was a small child. I used to suck my thumb too, but that's another story.
The other day I was waiting for my nail technician to become available and I watched a mother and her sister in their mid-twenties getting their nails done, accompanied by their two small children- a girl of five and a boy of three. The little girl was chatty and sweet and incredibly patient, waiting for her mother and aunt to finish. The little boy was playing quietly with a tablet with a game on it.
I was in the salon with the mothers and their children for the total of an hour and a half, as the mother of the little boy decided to get her nails done too.
As well as being a partially reformed nail biter, I am also a people watcher. It's what most writers do- we observe and take mental notes and character snapshots all the time. But this time I was disturbed by what I was seeing and hearing. The mother of the little girl was constantly putting the child down and shaming her in front of the other clients in the salon.
The child was not being naughty.
She was being a child.
It was insanely boring for me to have to sit there and wait, let alone for a young child who had no toy or book to occupy herself. The little girl tried to talk to me a couple of times but the mother shut her down and told her not to speak to strangers. I felt really insulted even though I understand the importance of teaching children stranger danger.
Not once in that hour and a half did the mother say one thing that was positive to that child. I felt sorry for the little girl and held grave fears for her developing self-esteem. How would she feel good about herself if she only hears negative feedback?
I know how much of a boost I get if someone says something positive to me. And I also know how quickly it is cancelled out by something negative.
Parenting is hard work and I don't want to sound like I was a perfect mother to my boys who are now adults. I made heaps of mistakes and wish I could have my time over so I could do things differently. But I left that salon feeling disturbed and unsettled and worried about all those children out there being brought up by overly critical parents. Of course there is a danger of over praising children too. But surely most wise parents try to aim for a balance.
Since then I've been checking myself to make sure I say more positive things to the people I love than negative. Being negative can be a habit as hard to break as biting your nails.
Do you praise more than your criticise? Or do you have a habit you wish you could control? I have a copy of my latest release The Temporary Mrs Marchetti for a reader who leaves a comment.
Melanie, it's tough, isn't it, when you're a captive audience. There are times when I'd love to interact with a child but that balance between them being outgoing and over trusting of strangers is a fine one. I'm surprised though that the mother didn't let her strike up a conversation with you when she was there! I hear what you mean about high levels of criticism being damaging. Positivity is so much better. I aim for that. Not sure how well I do though.ReplyDelete
I think you do amazingly well. You always seem positive and encouraging to me!
That poor little girl, all she's learning is to be negative with attention and praise. I tried to walk the line between positivity and realism in my parenting (although there were definitely times I didn't reach either of those I must admit).ReplyDelete
Parenting is hard, but you have to look for the good things because nothing makes your heart soar as much as a child's smile and a hug, right?
So true, Louisa. A child's smile is worth all the other stuff. I have photos of my boys all around the house of when they were little just to remind me how sweet they were. Not that they're not sweet now, of course. :)Delete
Hi Melanie, I felt so sad after reading your post. What a start in life for that poor little girl. You must have been itching to say something!ReplyDelete
I found it so hard to keep quiet. She was such a lovely little girl and I couldn't see that she was doing anything wrong. It's hard enough being a girl, don't you think without being put down all the time.
I think the mother is wrong to behave with their children, particularly not to let the child talk with you. And 'giuto educate explain to the children what they should or should not do, but we must also leave them a bit' of space and involve them and make them interact with other people.
Criticizing a child forever, whatever I do in my opinion is very harmful, because it makes him lose the confidence and self-esteem.
I agree. It is very harmful to be constantly criticised and it doesn't help with the development of good self- esteem.
Thanks for commenting.
That is really sad kids need to be encouraged and loved always as a parent and now grandmother we all make mistakes but we should learn from them and be positive give confidence and hugs and love :) Praise is the way to go
I know you are an expert at praise and positive encouragement as you do it to all your family but also your romance family. 😍Delete
That's really sad that for that entire time the mother couldn't find anything nice to say. Also, with the stranger danger thing, while there are still vaild reasons to teach caution, from what I've read many of the negatives that prompt teaching stranger danger more commonly happen with those known to the children or family.ReplyDelete
For the past 16 or so months, I've been trying to focus on recognising the positive, since negative tends to trap me in a bad mindset cycle. I won't say I'm always positive (with chronic pain that would be impossible) but I've been told a few times in the past 6 months that when I do complain it is for valid reasoning.
There is nothing like chronic pain to make you feel a bit negative. Big hugs!
That's such a sad story, Melanie. I'm hoping that the mother was having a bad day and isn't normally so critical of her little girl. We live in a world that sends women so many negative and hypercritical messages as it is, we don't need more from those who are suppose to nurture us.ReplyDelete
I try and not be too critical of those around me. We women have a tendency, though, to be our own worse critics...so I've been trying to rephrase my own self-criticisms into a language that is less belittling and more positive. It's proving an empowering exercise. :-)
Yes, it's often not what we say but how we say it. Just a different choice of words and tone can make all the difference. 🤓Delete
That is distressing, Melanie. Nurturing is so important. I think no matter what, your kids need to know you are on their side whilst also knowing the boundaries. Positivity is so important.ReplyDelete
That is so true. Nurturing is the one thing that a child needs more than money and expensive toys. Boundaries can be set without cruelty and shaming a child. Thanks for posting!
I definitely praise more than criticize. My daughter took awhile to adjust when she was younger - because her friends always wanted to snuggle on the floor with me while watching television (even though I was also snuggling with my daughter). As an adult now - and as a daycare teacher - she has come to appreciate that her friends weren't getting attention/love/one-on-one time with their own mothers/fathers and she is glad I took time to boost their egos/self-confidence and nurture them in the process - by also playing with them on the floor at their level, etc. I met up with a couple of these girls when they too were young adults, and they have commented on how much they appreciated feeling safe/warm whenever they visited us; that it made a huge difference in their lives (before they moved away).ReplyDelete
I remember one boy in my son's class who used to pick on my son and others all the time, spending most of his time in the principal's office; yes, he was called a bully for a reason. Much as I didn't want to be around him, I knew I was the adult and he couldn't hurt me (but he could hurt my son further). On track and field day, he was standing on the sidelines and I could tell he was envious that my son's mom was supporting him but his mom was not there supporting him (and she didn't work, either from outside or inside the home - and lived about ten houses away from the school). At that time, new rulings had come out that teachers were not allowed to touch/hug their students, but there were no rules about parents. I first stood behind the boy and he didn't move (other than to look up to see who was behind him). Next I put my hands on his shoulders while we both watched the runners; he didn't move (other than possibly backwards a little). I ruffled his hair and he seemed to enjoy it. When it was all done, I kissed the top of his head and told him I enjoyed spending the time with him. He never harmed my son again (and then, as oftentimes is the case, his family moved away). Praise; not criticism. Works wonders.
Laney, you are such an amazing person. You have literally changed people's lives with your show of compassion and nurturing. I wish there were more people like you in the world. Thanks for sharing those experiences with us. It touched me deeply.Delete
Thanks everyone for your comments. I have chosen Laney4 - the lucky last! Not just because she was last but because she was so inspiring. Please email me, Laney with your postal details. firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete