Words can be powerful when they are used in the right context. Usage of kind words can motivate children. Unkind and cruel words can hurt children. Think of the child of divorce who comes from an abusive home. Maybe the child wasn’t abused, but the spouse was – or there was a lot of shouting and crying. The words the child heard, even if the child was asleep, can negatively affect them for the rest of their lives. You should not underestimate the power of words.
In some states there is actually a law called, “In the Presence of Child.” If there is domestic abuse when the child is present, even if the child is asleep, the perpetrator can be convicted. Don’t believe words have power? Think again. Research was done in this area before these laws came into being. Make no mistake – negative words will impact a child’s inner voice for years!
Kind and pleasant words can be a driving force when helping a child to process their parent’s divorce. Commenting on the child’s effort will go a long way in helping the child understand they have the ability to work through the hurt. Praising their effort doesn’t mean you are praising their intelligence. It means you comment on their persistence in moving forward. It means you praise their effort to control their anger and how they are making strides in how to handle depression. It means you give them hope that life is going to get better. You are truthful with them, and when you are asked questions you don’t have an answer for, you let them know you don’t know.
Generic praise is the use of words that a lot of us say but which don’t have much meaning. They are actually judgmental. You know the “Good job” or “Good boy” types of praise. It is your judgment that what the child did was good.