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"N" Words- How Negative and Harmful Words Impact On A Child's Self-Esteem-Words CAN And DO Hurt!

Updated on September 8, 2013
gmwilliams profile image

Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.

Words have a psychological impact, either positively or negatively, on all of us.Words have a deep meaning for all of us. Children are especially susceptible to the power of words.
Words have a psychological impact, either positively or negatively, on all of us.Words have a deep meaning for all of us. Children are especially susceptible to the power of words.
As words have a special impact on children, they oftentimes remember negative words & remarks, particularly if it comes from a trusted adult. Children are vulnerable to the opinions & approval of adults.
As words have a special impact on children, they oftentimes remember negative words & remarks, particularly if it comes from a trusted adult. Children are vulnerable to the opinions & approval of adults.
There are parents, particularly those who are critical & perfectionistic, who routinely use harsh words when they are "correcting" their children.They unknowingly are doing irreparable damage to their children's self-esteem.
There are parents, particularly those who are critical & perfectionistic, who routinely use harsh words when they are "correcting" their children.They unknowingly are doing irreparable damage to their children's self-esteem.
Some parents commonly use pejorative names to their children such as ninny,stupid,&/or retard.They are acting more like bullies using powerplay than as loving, mature parents. They believe that children are "lesser"  & should be treated as such.
Some parents commonly use pejorative names to their children such as ninny,stupid,&/or retard.They are acting more like bullies using powerplay than as loving, mature parents. They believe that children are "lesser" & should be treated as such.
Many parents use insidious & negative ways of teaching & educating their children. They may call a child stupid/slow because he/she may fail to master a task/skill in what they deem to be the allotted time frame.
Many parents use insidious & negative ways of teaching & educating their children. They may call a child stupid/slow because he/she may fail to master a task/skill in what they deem to be the allotted time frame.
Parents can use negative & other harsh words/phrases when they compare one child to another, whether it is a sibling, relative, and/or a non-related child.Each child is unique and comparisons are often futile & damaging to a child's self-esteem.
Parents can use negative & other harsh words/phrases when they compare one child to another, whether it is a sibling, relative, and/or a non-related child.Each child is unique and comparisons are often futile & damaging to a child's self-esteem.
Parents are not the only adults who use negative words/phrases to children.Other adult figures such as teachers oftentimes use negative & other harsh words/phrases to children that often hurt & psychologically damage children.
Parents are not the only adults who use negative words/phrases to children.Other adult figures such as teachers oftentimes use negative & other harsh words/phrases to children that often hurt & psychologically damage children.
Negative & harsh words/phrases affect children in many ways.Some display their hurt & anger outwardly, becoming bullies.They act upon the negative messages imparted to them by parents, teachers, &/or other adult figures.
Negative & harsh words/phrases affect children in many ways.Some display their hurt & anger outwardly, becoming bullies.They act upon the negative messages imparted to them by parents, teachers, &/or other adult figures.
Other children transfer their anger & hurt inwardly, manifesting such behaviors such as self-mutilation, becoming suicidal, becoming depressed, &/or indulging in other self-destructive activities.
Other children transfer their anger & hurt inwardly, manifesting such behaviors such as self-mutilation, becoming suicidal, becoming depressed, &/or indulging in other self-destructive activities.
Many adults have low self-esteem as a result of the negative words & phrases used by parents, teachers, &/or other adult figures during their formative years.
Many adults have low self-esteem as a result of the negative words & phrases used by parents, teachers, &/or other adult figures during their formative years.

How Negative Words Damage A Child's Precious Self-Esteem

Do you remember when you were a child and someone either stated a hurtful remark or called you a disparaging name? You felt hurt and told your parents. You recollected that the first thing your parents told you that sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you. Yes, your parents say this to placate you but you knew that those disparaging words hurt you- and deeply.

Yes, words do have an impact on you either for better or worse. Many times children do remember negative words and remarks, especially from trusted adults and how those words seriously affected their self-esteem throughout life. Yes, words do have a deep meaning which is why adults must always be careful what they say to, in front of, and about children because the average child is vulnerable to the opinions and approval of adults.

Many parents, especially those who are critical and perfectionistic, often use harsh words when they are supposedly correcting their children. They believe that they are "molding" their children to be as succinct and correct as possible. However, what they are doing are irreparably damaging their children, often making them feel less than adequate and fearful of achieving up to their parents' often unrealistic expectations.

There are parents still believe that their children are seemingly non-entities that they have power over to rear any way they wish. They refuse to believe that their children are precious, divine entities in their own right. They believe that what they say to their children is totally insignificant. Furthermore, they assert their parental right to correct their children in any way they see right without regarding the rights of their children.

Parents correcting their children and calling them harmful names such as inept, stupid, blockhead, and ninny are so commonplace today. They are acting like childish bullies instead of mature and loving parents. These parents view parenthood as a powerplay game in which they are the authority figures with inherent rights to dominate their children because they are perceived to be "weaker" and "less" than they are.

Oftentimes the corrective measures parents use often have negative effects upon their children's self-esteem. For example, a mother may become exasperated because her child is not mastering a skill at a certain age. She starts to push the child to master the specific skill and starts to call the child "slow" and "not apt". The child hears this and naturally starts to believe it because it comes from a trusted adult figure, his/her mother.

Parents oftentimes use the art of comparison with the purpose of "shaping" up their child. How many times have you heard parents comparing one child to another. It does not even have to be siblings. This insidious art of comparison includes cousins, relatives, and non-related children. These parents believe that their children are not up to par and/or have characteristics which the former deemed undesirable. These parents seemingly are embarrassed by their children as they believe reflect badly upon the "parents honor" .

So these parents see another child who has characteristics which they deem to be more positive. Instead of honoring, valuing, and encouraging their own child's unique individual characteristics whatever they may be, they start to denigrate their child while simultaneously elevating the so-called more positive characteristics of the other outside child. For example, a mother denigrate and brutally criticizes her plain daughter's shyness while praising the sociability of an extremely beautiful, more extroverted classmate. Of course, the plain daughter now feels as if she is a total persona non grata. This results in the daughter even becoming more shy and awkward and the mother wonders why she is more so, not ever acknowledging her part in her daughter lowered self-esteem.

Parents are not the only words guilty of using hurtful words to children. Other trusted adult figures such as relatives and teachers can use words that can irreparably hurt children. I remember when I was in elementary school, there was a girl pupil who have a strong personality. She was unlike the other girl pupils who were more docile to adult authority. She was the type of person who questioned authority and did not blindly follow rules.

All of the teachers found her to be a problematic pupil but one teacher in particular believe that she was a delinquent in the making. No matter what she did(she was a B+ student), this particular teacher never gave her credit. This teacher had a conceived notion of her as a bad girl which made her a "poor" student. Nothing the girl ever did was suitable for this teacher. One day in class, the teacher finally stated that the girl is totally no good, will amount to nothing, and will end up in a corrective institution. Of course, the girls' parents believed the teacher so there was no support system for the girl. She was totally alone.

Many children often become bullies, part of gangs, and indulge in other deleterious activities because of the hurtful words and things that were said by their parents, teachers, and other adult authority figures. These children believe that since they were told that they were no good, they started to act that way. Many other children often indulge in self-destructive behaviors such as anorexia, self-mutilation, and other antisocial activities because they were consistently given negative messages during their formative years.

Most people today have a shaky self-confidence because of the often hurtful words that were said to them as children. There are many parents who scoff at this, stating that they were spoken to by their parents and other authority figures the same way and they were not effected. Really? They are effected by this in one way or another. Many people do not have a high sense of self- assurance, often masking their uncertain self-esteem with a false bravado. Many people who are aggressively domineering often have the lowest self-esteem. They have to present a false domineering persona because inside they feel as if they are nobodies.

The effect of parents and other authority figures using harmful words to children is, of course, low self-esteem. The typical manifestations of low self-esteem is feeling like zero and never being innately satisfied with your individual persona. A person with low self-esteem feels very insignificant and is always searching for validation in people who are "more" than they are whether it is an authority figure, a celebrity, and/or people who exude power. By identifying with authority figures, celebrities, and people who exude power, people with low self-esteem feel powerful and worthwhile.

There are some detrimental effects of children having low self-esteem because of the hurtful and negative words that were said to them by trusted adult figures. These children have no sense of boundaries which allow others to abuse and take advantage of them. Sociological and psychological studies have authenticated that children with low self-esteem are prey to bullies because they have no sense of boundaries. Many others become underachievers because they believe that they are not smart enough and have nothing to contribute in the academic setting. Of course, many more become bullies because they want to exert and prove to others that they have power but inwardly they know that they are quite insignificant.

There are more deleterious effects of such insidious verbal parent and adult abuse to children that are too numerous to mention. Child psychologists and other professionals have their hands full with dealing with such aftereffects of such verbal abuse. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has consistently warned parents that the very worst thing they could do is to criticize and use hurtful and negative words to children because their impressible minds absorb every negative word that is said to quite deleterious results. Dr. Dyer stated to parents that they should instead catch their children do something right and praise them!

In summation, words do have impact on people, especially children. Negative and hurtful words often have an extremely deleterious effect on children because they are very impressionable and vulnerable. Oftentimes, parents believe that in correcting their children, what they say to them as "corrective measures" would not harm but help them. However, negative words often have residual effects upon children's self-esteem and often become a self-fulfilling prophecy as to what they become in life. So, please watch what you say to the precious children for your words for good or ill will return to haunt them-and you!




© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams

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    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      6 years ago from London, UK

      Great article - I always say: Words can break and Words can build. Our words are very powerful.

      Thanks

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you annart for your intelligent and poignant response. I am going to read your hub. Children are our precious jewels and they should be treated with the utmost love and respect.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Very true. Parents, whilst not having an excuse, are at least not trained to be parents - more's the pity - but a teacher who treats a child in this way should be sacked. A teacher has undergone training, with educational psychology and should know better. What's the point in being a teacher if you're not going to benefit the pupil?! Lots of factors come into the art of parenting; fortunately these days there is much more advice around, if parents would only seek it and act on it. I've written a hub on how children should be involved in their own schooling, including how to help self-esteem, which might help some. Voted up and useful.

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