You’re just trying to get them to behave. You’re just trying to get them to listen to you, to stop hitting their sister, to take school seriously, to whatever. So you speak firmly, even harshly. You’re tired, you’ve had this conversation a thousand times, you’re not as kind as you could be. You’re just joking maybe, just giving your honest opinion about this or that.
But you know what you’re doing, really?
You’re putting a voice in their head. That’s how this happens.
Everything we say, every interaction we have with our kids is shaping them. How we speak to them informs how they will speak to themselves. If you want proof of this, think about all the complexes and scripts you picked up from your parents—maybe things you’re working on in therapy right now, decades later.
So while you can, before it’s too late…catch yourself. Make this interaction a kind one, a patient one, a friendly one. Speak to them the way you’d want them to speak to themselves. Because it’s not a matter of if they will internalize the things they heard growing up, it’s a matter of what they will internalize.
Put a good voice in their head.