Spring has arrived and with it many exciting things on the horizon like warmer weather, Easter, and everyone’s favorite: Spring Cleaning. Okay, maybe not everyone’s favorite, but that urge to purge and start fresh can be a healthy drive to re-evaluate what stays and what goes after hunkering down for the holidays. As we finish the year with our next three editions of the Eagle Counseling Newsletter, our goal is to offer a few ideas about evaluating some things that could lead to happier and healthier students and families. In this edition, we are taking a look at the importance and power of positive language. We will focus on how this sometimes overlooked or underappreciated power within us can play a vital role in our development and well-being.
The Power of Words
In researching for this month’s edition, we stumbled across something which at first seemed bizarre, but upon a further look appears to be a curious phenomenon that has roots in words themselves. Below is a video released by IKEA, who conducted an experiment on the effects of words on plants and how they grow. While this sounds strange, it turns out that this experiment has been conducted over and over and the results are the same. Those plants which hear positive words or phrases do well, and those who hear negative and harmful things suffer and wilt. What is even more interesting is a furthering of the experiment where the “control” plant was not spoken to, versus either positive or negative words. Interestingly enough, this “control” plant became the “neglected” plant, and thus did worse than the plant spoken to negatively. If put in the context of our kids, we of course do not want to encourage saying negative, hurtful things to our children. However, in this case neglect is the most painful and harmful of all.
A similar experiment was conducted by Dr. Masuro Emoto on the effects our words have on water. Again, this seemed like “pseudoscience” at first glance, but have a closer look at the results. When the words are spoken, and then the water is flash frozen, the proof is in the ice. The positive words formed into beautiful crystals, while the hurtful things look malformed and uneven. In the beginning, Genesis says that there was nothing but God, and He used water, and then spoke. It was through God’s Word that everything came into being, so it does not seem too far a stretch to say that we, God’s most prized creations have a God-given power and significance to our words. Have a look at the picture and video, and see what you think for yourself.
Speaking Positively to Ourselves
“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough.” This statement is true of so many of our students. In a culture of constant comparison, it is impossible to go through a day without looking at others in envy because they have it all together. Did I say that our students struggle with this? Because even as an adult, I do too. I look at my colleagues and other parents and my internal monologue speaks loud and clear about my shortcomings. This song powerfully silences those negative thoughts and points me back to the words of the only One who speaks the absolute truth about me because I’m His fearfully and wonderfully made creation. “You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing. You say I am strong when I think I am weak. You say I am held when I am falling short. When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours.” I hope it uplifts you and your family as you seek His truth about you.
Speaking Positively to Each Other
This past Monday, Prince of Peace was again blessed to welcome speaker Keith Davis to our Middle School students for a follow up address on the important topic of the Power of Our Words. This time Keith brought with him Germard Reed, a friend, colleague, and former NCAA Champion football player who has known the pain and the power of others’ words and influence in his life. Keith and Germard shared a powerful message on how we can “lift and push up” others, rather than tear them down with hurtful words. The brought up the importance of equality not only as people, but as God’s children and precious creations. Keith and Germard challenged our Middle School students to rise above the standard of their generation and “Be the change.” Keith and Germard shared through personal stories and interactive examples the “Significance” of words in our lives, and tasked our students to be more than a great student, athlete, etc. “Be Significant, because you are.” We hope Keith and Germard’s words bring you encouragement as well. YOU are Significant, and your impact on the people in your life and around you is great and deserves yours and others’ attention. So how are you using your Significance?
Speaking Positively to Our Kids
Speaking Positively through Parenting
“Mrs. Dwyer, my mom wants to know why my assignment is missing.” “Mrs. Dwyer, my dad was wondering what we’re going to do in class while I’m gone Friday.” “Mrs. Dwyer, my parents were confused about the book report assignment.” These are actual statements from students over the years, and I don’t write them to embarrass anyone, but to illustrate an important point that as parents, sometimes we find ourselves doing what Julie Lythcott labels as “over-parenting.” Is it wrong to be involved in your child’s school work? Absolutely not. The problem lies in the fact that these students communicated their parents’ concerns about their school work at the expense of caring about the work for themselves. I hear you objecting, “But Mrs. Dwyer, if I don’t care, they won’t care!” How do we find the balance? How do we both motivate our kids and let them learn to motivate themselves? This Ted Talk sheds light on how to speak to and interact with our children in a way that helps them learn how to be intrinsically driven, independent thinkers.
We wanted to reach out as we have been tracking the latest viral “danger” called the “Momo Challenge” as it exploded back into the media scene last week. With this Special Edition of the Eagle Counseling Newsletter, we would like to break down the information into what we feel might be helpful for families. Below is a link to a news article being posted and shared by several local police departments and news media outlets. (NOTE: This video is not recommended for children as it shows the disturbing photo of “Momo” which is actually a statue from a Japanese Horror-Film Festival. Someone snapped a photo of it and started the “Momo Challenge.”)
Students are also talking and asking about it, so we wanted to address social media use in general in a way which opens communication between students and their families. While we do not wish to add to the intrigue and myth of this or other “challenges,” we also know it is already circulating and desire to aid parents and students in filtering such information. Here is a great article to help parents guide their kids in avoiding, sharing, and discussing such things since they will inevitably continue to pop up as they have in the past like the Blue Whale Challenge, Slenderman, and others.
We also wanted to include in this issue a couple of great posts from our friend KL Greer who spoke previously at POPCS about online safety. In one video, she shares a very important strategy, “I tell my kids they will never ever be in trouble for telling me about something they have seen or heard on the internet.” This is a challenge, but she has a point. In order to foster conversation, trust, and openness with our children, we must also provide a space they can feel safe to share their thoughts, feelings, and worries without fear of parents reacting versus responding, yelling, or freaking out. We may feel all of those things, but our reactions may come at the price of our kids sharing things with us. It can be a conversation rather than an interrogation.
Regardless of what the next internet buzz is, this is yet another opportunity for us to encourage you as parents to talk with your students, the little ones all the way up to the big ones, about their online activity and how to be safe while still utilizing technology. You must know what your kids are doing and seeing online as the world will not provide a filter for them. We do not need to panic at every “challenge” that comes our way, but we do need our children to feel able to share what they are seeing and doing. This ties in with the article “Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids” by Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. we included last month in Eagle Counseling Newsletter Issue 4: Building Healthy Relationships which you can view here.
We hope this information sparks some good conversations in your homes, and we pray God’s blessings on your week!
Michelle Dwyer and Gary Prindiville are school counselors and teachers at Prince of Peace Christian School and Early Learning Center in Carrollton, TX. visit our Contact page for more information.
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