bad boys, brats & divas: we’re raising what we’re praising

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner-voice.”

My son is a very active toddler who is full of energy and has a mischievous personality. A few weeks ago I found he had gotten into markers and was coloring on my bedroom furniture. “Bravery!” I exclaimed. “Is that something you should be doing?” I was shocked at his reply “Me, bad boy.” I quickly replied “No, you’re not a bad boy. You’re a good boy. But you did make a bad decision.” He argued “Me, bad boy.”

It’s continued since then.

Every time I have to correct or redirect him he has been telling me “Me, bad boy.”

I don’t know where this idea came from.

I’m not sure if someone who was watching him told him he was a bad boy.

But it breaks my heart and I am trying my hardest to get him to stop saying it.

I’m sure some wouldn’t give it a second thought.

I’m sure some frequently use that very phrase to point out a negative behavior that their child is exemplifying.

But here’s the problem: our words are either bringing life or death.

Your child is not their behavior. 

Your child may be extremely passionate, but she is not over-dramatic.

Your child may have very particular taste, but she is not a diva.

Your child may be rambunctious and wild but he is not a bad boy.

Your child may throw a fit or talk back from time to time but he or she isn’t a brat.

Who our children are is who they are on their best days. When they are carefree, their needs have been met, their stress level is low and they feel loved.

Your daughter is the sweet little girl who likes to have tea parties with you. You know how she tenderly cares for all of her stuffed animals and invites them all to the party so none of them get their feelings hurt? That is who she is. She is nurturing. She is empathetic. She is loving and sensitive.

Your son is the happy, vivacious little man who has a wide-eyed-bushy-tailed perspective on life. The one who is eager and welcoming of the greatest adventures. The one who has the charming sense of humor. The little boy who after racing off his energy all day pulls you in close, kisses your forehead and says “Good night mom. You’re the best mom in the whole world, universe and outer-space.”

If we want to raise strong, confident children who make an impact on the world around them, it starts with how we treat them.

It starts with what we speak over them.

Think twice next time before you call your child a bad boy, brat or a diva. You’re raising what you’re praising.

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