The Verbal Environment

Making or Breaking a Child’s Self-Esteem

Yesterday we began discussing Maria F., a nanny who is disturbed when she sees nannies yelling at children. To continue the discussion, Anne Merchant Geissler, nanny educatior and the author of The Child Care Textbook and The Nanny Textbook, explains how the verbal environment makes or breaks a child’s self-worth. See a book review of The Child Care Textbook by clicking here.

Ms. Merchant Geissler explains, “Probably the most insidious and prevalent factor in whether a child possesses high self-esteem has to do with the verbal environment, such as the way that family members talk to one another.”

“Although the ability to communicate well can play a huge role in enhancing self-esteem it does not in any way guarantee that the verbal environment is free of the subtle nuances that either make or break the developing child’s sense of worth,” says Merchant Geissler.

She continues, “An adult that relies on giving orders or makes demands hurts the child’s self-esteem. When adults ask questions for which there are no real answers that can be given demeaning to a child. For example, ‘What do you think you are doing?’ or, ‘When will you ever learn?'”

Ms. Merchant Geissler admits, “Few adults, and certainly not those who care for children as their profession, would intentionally create a negative verbal environment. However, it is a common occurrence in many settings.”

She continues, “We get busy and don’t think about the impact our words have. Positive verbal environments usually don’t happen by chance. They are intentionally implemented by thoughtful, caring adults who want the best for the children in their care.”

In the book, Full Esteem Ahead, Diane Loomans writes about some common non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children. They convey the message that the child’s feelings are unimportant or not acceptable. The child may then internalize the message, “I am not important or acceptable.”

Some common non-empathetic responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children convey the message that the child’s feelings are unimportant or not acceptable. The child may then internalize the message, “I am not important or acceptable.”

Stop by tomorrow when we will list the common responses that contribute to feelings of low self-worth in children.

Comments

  1. Think before you speak. If you wouldn't say it to an adult, why say it to a kid? If you are using a tone with a child you would never use with an adult, stop yourself.

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