Growing up, there was no nursery school near my home so I went straight to primary one since there was a nearby church school. As a result, I was the youngest in class (my mom sent me early to avoid the constant crying as my siblings went to school). My classmates thus found me an easy target for teasing and I would usually go home crying.
On one such day, my mom wasn’t home so I reported to my brother(then in his early teens) that my classmates were calling me “kihinzi”(the one with a running nose)and saying I have big head. My brother jokingly said that I tell them that the big head was full of knowledge and the running nose was due to overflow of knowledge thus why I was brighter than the bullies.
I took the advice to heart and the following day when the bullies started calling me names, I told them confidently what my brother had said. That ended the teasing (I had been consistently the first in the class).
Remembering this story from my childhood makes me think about the importance of what you say to children (especially as parents) and the kind of environment at home. We shape what our children believe about themselves; if we are constantly highlighting their negative aspects and down playing the positive, then even the positive aspects will keep decreasing and they may end up being the bad thing that you keep calling them.
I grew up being told that I was intelligent that even when I started high school and I was performing poorly for 2 years, I kept believing I was intelligent until I again started performing well(I had to acquire some reading skills; I had not been reading in primary and depended on understanding in class). Never once did my mother tell me that I was lazy or a failure during those two years; she still called me her intelligent girl.
As parents, we are challenged to speak life to our children; if we continually tell a child that he/she is lazy or naughty, we shouldn’t be surprised if they continue with that habit. We have to separate the habit from the person.
Remember, as co-creators with God, we create with our words!
Proverbs 12:19 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.