Words are not just Words
Whether we’re aware of it or not, the language we use shapes and influences the way our children see the world. In the context of weather, we often use the following phrases:
‘The weather is miserable today’
‘There’s nothing to do when it rains’
‘I hate this weather’
‘It will be better when the weather picks up’
And so on….
These seemingly innocuous phrases have a subtext. Whether or not it is our intention, the message being received by our children, who take everything literally, is that the enjoyment of our lives is dependent on the weather.
Children are like sponges, constantly soaking up information and assigning meaning to what they come across in their environment. With this in mind, we have to recognize that the influence we have on them goes way beyond what we impart on them ‘intentionally’, and that we are often unknowingly, ‘unintentionally’ teaching them about the world through our everyday, seemingly trivial words and actions i.e. talking about the weather.
Resistance is Futile.
Given that we live in a country where the weather is very rarely ‘ideal’, conditioning our children to associate negatively with ‘bad’ weather is setting them up for, ‘you guessed it!’…negativity! Why would we want to instill feelings of resistance and resentment towards something that is both inevitable and completely beyond our control?
If the narrative goes:
Life = Great when it’s warm and sunny.
Life = Rubbish when it’s cold and rainy.
Then it has to be possible that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is the playing out of the ideology we’ve downloaded from our childhood and our culture? I do not want to make light of something which many people may genuinely suffer with, but perhaps there is an element of people ‘doing what they’re told’ – Feeling bad when the weather is bad. Feeling good when the weather is good?
- Don’t speak negatively about the weather in front of your children. Admittedly this is quite hard, but treat it the same way you would speaking negatively of your spouse, grandparents, friends etc. in front of your children. When you think about it, it’s just as unnecessary.
- When the weather isn’t ideal, where possible crack on with your plans, but adjust accordingly i.e. waterproofs, spare clothes etc. Try not to moan about how much better it would have been if the weather were better.
- If you decide to alter your plans due to weather. Don’t make a big deal of it, don’t make it obvious and don’t moan about it.
- Try to put a positive spin on it. Jumping in puddles is fun! Staying indoors and making dens or doing crafts is fun! Things you may not have done if it weren’t for the weather?
- See it as a way to build character, promote resilience, and induce a sense of achievement, none of which would be possible if things were ‘easy’ and ‘how we want them to be’ all the time.
My boy jumping in muddy puddles. Peppa Style.
Had we not gone out for a stroll in the rain. We’d have missed out on this rainbow.
My Boy playing in the snow.
A Counter Argument.
Some may say that children will come to the same conclusion (cold/rain = rubbish) on their own, through peer groups or through cultural osmosis. There is certainly some truth in this, but I personally reject this line of thinking for myself for the following reasons:
- You, the parent (or caregiver) are by far the most influential person in the child’s life. What you think, say and do matters and carries the most weight.
- A child’s susceptibility to external influences is governed by your input.
- This is an attempt to absolve responsibility for the world-view of your own offspring.
Whether you agree, disagree or have a different perspective on the topic, I’d love to hear from you. Always open to new information and new ways of looking at things.