I didn’t realize how much until a recent trip to the playground. At two and a half my daughter can say just about everything that she wants to say, and she’s still unselfconscious enough to talk to herself openly.
I stood beside her at the park and watched her climb up a rope net, and as she neared the top I asked her if she needed help. She didn’t look up but said, “No thank you Mommy,” and then to herself, “I can do it. I’m strong.”
I’ve said this to her countless times, as encouragement and praise, and she internalized it. The words I say to her have become the words she says to herself, about herself, and they affect how she chooses to act, in this case whether or not to ask for or accept help. My words shape her view of her own abilities, and all that that entails. It’s terrifying.
Because words matter I try to choose them carefully, but which words are right? When? Can too much praise be worse than too little? Are harsh words ever required? If not, how can dangerous or inappropriate behaviour be stopped?
There’s so much to consider, so I’ve simplified it for myself: Say something positive, say something true. Yesterday, when she threw a bowl of apple slices on the floor, perhaps hoping they would be replaced by chocolates, I said “I don’t like it when you throw food on the floor (true!), you usually do a great job of keeping your food on your plate (positive & true).” Then we cleaned up the mess.
Of course there are certain truths that cannot be shared with a toddler, and certain events that preclude positivity, but applying this simple rule to my words during our more meaningful conversations has given me a simple and effective way to encourage the right behaviour without resorting to anger or shaming, which makes us both happier.
So in honour of Mother’s Days and finding simple ways to make life happier, here is the simplest way to happiness: Cake
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar (Plus 2 tablespoons to coat pan)
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream or greek yogurt
2 1/4 cups flour (Plus 2 tablespoons to coat pan)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raspberries
- Preheat oven to 350C
- Grease a 12 cup bundt pan with butter and shake in two tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of sugar, discard excess
- Mix dry ingredients together and set aside
- Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add grated ginger
- Beat in eggs one at a time, scrapping bowl between additions then add vanilla
- Add one this of dry mixture to batter and stir, then stir in half of the sour cream or yogurt, repeat, then add the final third of the dry mixture.
- Gently fold raspberries into batter if the raspberries are frozen. If using fresh raspberries it is easier to scatter them into the pan along with the batter to prevent them from being broken apart.
- Bake for 1 hour