In my coaching practice I work with many moms who parent kids with learning differences and often hear such things as “she’s my ADD child,” “he’s my hyperactive one,” or “he’s my sensory child” and so forth. I always invite these clients, as I invite you today, to ditch the labels as they are not healthy for both kids and their parents.
I am sure this is not the first time you have heard about labels, their self-fulfilling nature and their limiting consequences. Just last month I reposted an article on my Facebook page called Don’t Call my Daughter Shy, in which a mother shared her childhood experience of being always referred to as ‘shy’ and how she was never able to shake this until she moved away in adulthood and was able “to recreate myself without any old labels getting in the way”. Be it “shy” or “autistic” or “hyper” labels are crippling. There is so much more to each of us than our labels, than our imperfections, even more than our diagnoses. I invite you to shift the focus from your child’s diagnosis to all the beautiful and positive attributes your child has to offer and try on “this is my loving child”, or “my kind child,” or “my happy child,” or “my spirited child,” instead. Focus on what you want to see more of and highlight precisely those things as you see them! Think of more positive ways to say what you see. Think: how else might I say this? If your child is jumping on the couch or running circles around the living room you might say “this is my active child,” or “I love how full of life you are!” This can give you a sense of peace and freedom as you ditch your own preconceptions of how he/she ought to be and relate to your child in more positive and growth enhancing ways. Additionally, your child will feel better, accepted and more free to be him/herself as you point out more of the positive! I invite you to try it and see how it feels. I am willing to bet that it takes at least some of the tension away. You might try a one-line-a-day journal (many options are sold at amazon.com) to start a daily practice of focusing on the positive with regards to your child. Lastly, breathe and find the balance, remembering always that you are human too!
I would be curious to hear your feedback and if you are at your wits end and need more support, please come see me.
Happy Parenting - Galit
Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and Owner of CORE Parent Coaching based in Dallas, Texas. She writes regularly for the CORE blog and guest blogs for Dallas Child Magazine’s various blog sites. This post was written for Dallas Child’s Thrive Magazine blog.