There have been many occasions as an educator and parent where I have said to children that “hate is a strong word” When they hate their peas, or hate their carrots, or hate their friend who took their toy. As I type the word “hate”, it bothers me. Just reading the word on the screen, gives me a negative feeling in my bones. While it’s natural to dislike something, stating that you hate something,sounds like there is anger attached to it, and seriously how angry do peas really make a child feel? And,if such a strong word is being used in regards to some green peas on a plate, what type of words will be used when that child really feels angry, especially with another person?
They say sticks and stones will break our bones, and names will never hurt us. The truth is, physical wounds can be healed, but the words that are said, can never be taken back. If we are careful with our words, especially in a state of anger, we save ourselves from regret. When we teach our children to be mindful with their words, even in regards to peas, we are teaching them to choose positive language over negative. We are saving them from moments of regret in their present and future relationships and instilling positive communication habits.
The next time you hear your child, “hating” ask them why they are using such a strong word, and get them to think about how the word is making them feel. You can say things like,”When you use the word hate, it sounds to me like you are angry, do peas really make you angry?” It also helps to encourage the child to find things in that item to like. For example, I might say, “I know I love when I peel open the outside of the pea and find these itty bitty guys inside! You may not like the taste of the peas, but do you like the color or shape?” Even if the child couldn’t find anything to like about peas, you’ve taught them to re-evaluate and look for the positive.
Hating never results in anything good. Whether we hate something about ourselves, another person or a thing, it is a negative feeling. However, when we find things to like, even in something we think we might hate, it makes us feel good. And seriously, who doesn’t like feeling good?