My husband and I have gotten into a delightful habit. We have a changeable sign in the kitchen, with an array of 1 inch tall letters, and every once in a while, one of us will write a positive affirmation thereon. No, I won’t tell you what we say to each other. Get your own sign. But it’s along the lines of, “You rock.” “Thank you for…. (fill in the blank)”.
It’s always fun to come home after a particularly hard day and see something in black and white that reminds me that someone is on my side. It also is a great way to get yourself into the habit (if you weren’t there already) of thinking of positive things to say to your partner, and actually articulating those thoughts.
None of us are mind readers. Communication is the key to a good relationship. There’s nothing more irritating than hearing someone say, “She knows I love her.”
Maybe she does, but what’s wrong with saying it? Why keep your positivity to yourself? It’s not some pot of gold that you have to hoard. Share the wealth. It will come back to you tenfold.
A dear friend of mine is about to move thousands of miles away from me. She has been a steady source of support since the day we met. She’s my champion. She has my back. I can always count on her to keep her promises and provide pep talks when needed. She doesn’t judge me. I don’t feel the need to vacuum or dust before she comes to visit. She loves my dogs. If she saw anyone mistreating me, I’m certain she would claw out their eyes. I have told her things I’ve never told anyone else. And best of all, she makes me laugh.
Now, that’s a true friend. And just because she’ll no longer be just down the street, that doesn’t mean the friendship will end. No way. Our pseudo slumber parties will just be a bit more of a logistical challenge.
But here’s what’s important: I hope she can say the same things about me as well. Friendship is a two way street, after all. We’ve both lived through some long rough patches. We could both use a little shoring up now and then.
So what follows is a list of things I want you to read out loud, dear B, when times get tough. I want you to always remember these things. I want you to say them so often that you believe them as much as I do.
You are one of my favorite people on the face of the earth.
Anyone would be lucky to have you in his or her life.
You are intelligent and hilarious and fun to be around.
You are as tough as nails.
You are beautiful inside and out.
You have a lot of gifts to give to the world.
You are extremely talented.
You have amazing insights.
You are a survivor.
You are compassionate and kind.
You deserve joy and goodness in your life.
These are all things that no one can take from you.
I really ought to make you tattoo all of this backwards on your forehead so you see it every time you look in the mirror. But if you forget, you can always call me, ’cause you know I’ll set you straight. I love you!
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If I haven’t said it recently (but I’m fairly sure I have), I absolutely love National Public Radio. I learn so much from NPR that I probably would never know otherwise. Case in point: the Thirty Million Words Initiative.
One of my all time pet peeves is parents who do not read to or communicate with their children. I’ve entered many a house where there are no books to be found, and the TV is tuned to soap operas instead of Sesame Street, and it makes me want to scream, “You are setting your child up for failure!”
Now, finally, vindication. The Thirty Million Words Initiative was started by Dana Suskind, a surgeon who wrote the book Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. In an interview with NPR, Suskind said, “The 30 million word gap comes from a very famous study that was done probably about 30 years ago by Betty Hart and Todd Risley, where they followed a group of children between 0 and 3 years old from all socioeconomic backgrounds. And basically what they found, by the end of age 3, children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds will have heard 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. And this number itself was correlated not just with differences in vocabulary but also differences in IQ and test scores in the third grade.”
This gap comes from a combination of familial/cultural differences and the stressors of poverty. The words you use with your child have an impact as well. Some children hear as much as 6 times as many positive affirmations as other children do. Being belittled affects your development.
The Thirty Million Words Initiative is a program that encourages parents to tune in, talk more, and take turns with their children. To learn more about this, read the book, visit the website and support it. Set your child up for success.