Choosing your words wisely; Does it matter how we speak about our babies?
‘Is she good?’
‘He’s just being grumpy!’
‘The little *&^! kept us up all night!’
Any of these comments sound familiar? I have to admit that I find them to be quite shocking and all of them I have heard from new parents in the first two months of being a new Mama. Our breastfeeding support lady told us during our first week of being new parents that newborns cry for three main reasons. They’re hungry (mostly), need changing or wind (of course!). So, if our newborns have such a limited range of reasons for crying, how can people arrive at the conclusion that their baby is nothing other than in need of some help?!
Our babies only have one way of communicating and, in the very beginning, it can be hard to tell what they need from the sound they make. Hopefully, you begin to know their sounds or behaviour to help you distinguish what they are trying to tell you which makes it easier to target their need more quickly and resolve their crying. I am sure I’m not alone in spending hours learning my baby’s cues in order to understand her needs and ensure I am doing the best for her.
However, still I found that other people’s negativity, mostly totally unintentional I should add, seeped into my life as a new Mama. I will never forget the first time someone said that my baby was being grumpy. I was speechless and a wave of Mama defence washed over me. She was crying because she had a sore tummy after her injections. My little love was struggling and now the adjective being attached to her was so negative it was unfair.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that this may seem like an overreaction and I didn’t respond other than to say ‘Oh, no- just struggling with a poorly tummy’, but it certainly got me thinking. I thought about other parents, new parents and seasoned professionals, and the way they talk about their children. I’ve been asked so many times if my daughter is ‘good’ I’ve lost count. Of course, I proudly answer affirmatively but I would love to challenge the question. What makes a good baby? Surely, at only months old, if my baby is good then it’s down to purely having her needs met by her parents? She is forming her personality and as I present the answers to these questions then I am painting the world’s perception of her. This will be reflected to her in time and become her own self-perception. I want her to be confident and to know that we love her and she has been a dream so far so it’s easy for me to answer ‘Yes!’
What about those babies who aren’t ‘good’?
What makes them not good? Is it that we have to secretly judge the parents for not meeting their baby’s needs? What if a baby has been really poorly and this has caused answers to the question to be more negative? What if the parents are struggling to meet the child’s needs, hiding behind closed doors and struggling onwards in the hope something will work? What does the future hold for these children? Will it form the foundation for the world’s perception and eventually give them a negative self-perception? A mirror of negativity? No baby calculates how they will keep their parents up on a particular night, sitting up with night vision goggles and a to-do list of strategies! No baby times a nappy explosion for the drive over to your most judgmental relative knowing it will have maximum pressure on their parent’s stress levels. No baby has bad intentions so how can people say their babies aren’t good or even call them names?!
Whatever you feel about the last two paragraphs, I think that it is important that from day one of parenting, we think carefully about the way we discuss our children. Children understand body language from a fragile young age. They understand spoken language from a fragile young age. We, as parents, will never know the exact moment in time that our children understand our actions and our words. Therefore, from day one we should practice. Practice how you role model positive conversations about yourself and your partner, practise how you talk about your child and practice talking in the language of positivity- even when something needs improving!
So does it matter?
Of course it does! The words you use impact on your state of mind. Therefore, it is important on several fronts…for your own mental happiness; choose words that are positive or empathetic to the situation you and your baby are experiencing. This will help you to cope and frame your own mindset positively. For the perception of baby; choose love and acceptance to help you deal with challenges and build a positive perception or your child’s growing personality. For others; your choice of words will build a positivity bubble and people may find it harder to challenge your positivity and then your positive language and outlook will become infectious! You and your baby will become emerged in language choices that will make you all feel good!
I understand that there will be days where you will find it harder- or even seemingly impossible, but remember that on these days you need to find a way to self-care, give yourself a break, don’t beat yourself up (!) and talk to someone. Make good choices about who you speak to though- find someone who is living in a positive bubble and ask them to share it!
The words we choose are represented through our clothing range, as well as our Mother gifts and Mum accessories!
Children are incredibly perceptive and vulnerable with a direct line to their parent's thoughts and feelings. It is for them that we need to choose our words wisely. Be the creator of their strength and social promoter- you are their champion so shine bright and share their wonderfulness with everyone!