How We Talk to Children and Their Inner Critics

by | 20 Jul 2015 | Change

The other day I saw this Peggy O’Mara quote and picture on the Action for Happiness website, and it really got me thinking.

I saw it just after I’d been talking with a coaching client who had reflected that her sense of never being ‘good enough’ started from a very early age, and that her Dad has always been very critical (and that she knew he’d had quite a tough childhood and had worked hard to give his family a better life).

I’m no psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor, so I’m not qualified to delve into past causes that have led to what’s getting in the way; as a coach I work from the reality of where the client is right now and the possibilities for moving forward (although of course the past gives helpful context).

It’s the ‘how’, rather than the ‘why’ I’m leveraging.

However, as a human being, I really feel this to be true. I was very lucky with my parents, but Dad was still a perfectionist and Mum never ‘suffered fools gladly’. Both were hard on themselves, and set high standards for us as children.

I’m glad they did, but I do hear echoes of them in my own internal critic’s voice.

The quote became front of mind for me again with having had little Valya here. Her childhood back home in Belarus with very difficult family circumstances is hard for me to fully imagine or understand, but I’ve seen a big change in her behaviour and confidence over the time she’s been with us.

We’ve worked together as a whole family, firmly holding boundaries yet with patience, consistency, compassion, humour, love and respect. We’ve not been able to speak words that Valya understands, but our body language, tonality and way of being have spoken just as loudly and it’s been rewarding (if hard work) to see the impact.

I don’t know how she’s spoken to back home, but I wholeheartedly hope that her experience with us this year, and for the next 4 years to come will have a positive impact on her own inner voice as she grows up.

I’m no perfect parent (who is!!), and I know my kids will still have ‘stuff’ because of me, but as a long what stays with them has more of the voice of love, compassion and acceptance than the ‘critical’ parent voice, I know they can grow to achieve the fullness of their potential.




Well, perhaps a little premature to say that, but yesterday I was sooo stuck. I'm about to relaunch my entire business (hmm, I never seem to do things by half). Why? well because everything I've been learning, dreaming of, planning and experimenting with over the last...

The word that’s soothed my soul

The word that’s soothed my soul

I have a recurring experience that I used to find unsettling and puzzling. These days I’ve learned to just go with it, with some bemusement and curiosity. Every now and then, a word forces its way into my life. Usually it’s a word that’s just always been in my...

When I grow up…

When I grow up…

I woke early this morning, mind whirring and body feeling alert and alive. That’s really. not. like. me. Generally I’m a night owl who loves long lazy lie-ins. I sleep well and deep and long. But every now and then my subconscious  finishes its processing work way...