Are You Listening? (To the Self-Talk?)
A key element to making successful changes is to listen to the messages you send yourself. Good weight management and health promotion programs will explore the self talk we all do. It’s within those messages that one finds potential barriers to success. Some of us use self talk that is really imaginative. We have super powers! Others are over-confident about what can be accomplished. Still others have very negative self talk.
The messages we want to keep private are often plain to see. How? All I have to do is listen to your word choices when describing a situation. How you describe yourself impacts your child’s self talk, too. It No matter the age, your child learns how to assess their weight, health, even their abilities by how you view your own.
Have you ever listened to a child who is immersed in play with dolls, stuffed animals, or other toys? You can hear them working out the stressful things that happened in their day. And in listening in, you learn what sorts of things bother your child. You also hear how they hear what you have to say. That can hurt! As hurtful as it is, you learn a lot about your influence on your child.
Next time your son or daughter with Down syndrome is having a heated discussion with themselves, take a minute to listen. If your child is using words like fat, hog, eating too much, lazy, ugly, and so on, it might be time to make some changes toward more positive self talk as well as positive behavior support (catch them being good is a place to start) for your child.
Coaching is often useful for this. It’s hard to change your child’s self-talk. Often it’s hard to see how to reframe most things. Having a professional partner with you to listen to the self-talk and devise a plan is a good thing.
Listening to the self-talk your child with Down syndrome has can tell you a lot. However, it’s also important to respect privacy. You’ll probably hear all you need by listening to conversations that are happening in the living areas of your home. No need to listen through closed doors. Some things are best left private.
As a side note, it’s also important to listen to the language of the people around your child – most importantly you and the words you choose to describe your child. It’s not “self-talk,” technically. It’s talk about their self. What you say will be translated into the language of what they say. So listen to your self-talk about the person with Down syndrome in your life. Is it respectful? If not, how can you change that?