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We send demeaning messages without realizing it. It is true that some excel in the field: you only have to listen to certain parents talking to their children or even childminders, who probably did not understand everything about child psychology (I do not generalize, but I have often witnessed it).
But even without wanting to, we can have demeaning words. Here is a list of types of demeaning messages with examples:
Judge, criticize, blame
“You should know it though.”
“You don’t think about anything.” , “You’re not thinking”
“You are unbearable.”
“You are the most ungrateful child I know.”
Say names, ridicule, shame
“You’re just a spoiled child.”
“We know, Monsieur thinks he’s fine.”
“Are you proud to spoil the atmosphere in this house?”
“You should be ashamed.”
Interpret, psychoanalyze, diagnose
“You’re just trying to get attention.”
“You are doing everything to exasperate me.”
“Are you happy to push me to the end?”
“You always want to play when I have work to do!”
“It is not polite to cut someone off.”
“Well behaved children don’t do that.”
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“Why don’t you try to be nice for once.”
These are devaluing messages because they question the character of the child, by deprecating him as an individual. They point out his weaknesses or pass judgment on his personality. They raise an accusing finger towards the child (literally and figuratively, when the parent acts as in the photo above).
What are the effects of such messages?
Children often feel remorse and feel guilty because they are judged or blamed. They find their parents are killing them, they see it as an injustice. They often feel rejected, unloved.
These devaluing messages cause the child to have a feeling of inferiority, they reduce self-esteem.
These messages can have a devastating effect on the development of a child’s self-image. Especially if he hears them day after day. Like drops of water falling on a stone, eroding it imperceptibly…
References: Effective Parents – Another Listening to the Child – Thomas Gordon
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