I remember my dad teaching me the power of language at a very young age. Not only did my dad understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.
Here is a very easy demonstration to teach your kids and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary. Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them. Now, follow my instructions carefully. Say to them, "Okay, try to drop the pencil." Observe what they do.
Ask yourself how many compliments you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms. Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long. We all have internal voices that give us direction.
But: Negates any words that are stated before it. Try: Presupposes failure. If: Presupposes that you may not. Might: It does nothing definite. It leaves options for your listener. Would Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen. Should Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen (and implies guilt.) Could Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen but the person tries to take credit as if it did happen. Can't/Don't: These words force the listener to focus on exactly the opposite of what you want. This is a classic mistake that parents and coaches make without knowing the damage of this linguistic error.
Toxic phrase: "Don't drop the ball!"
Likely result: Drops the ball
Better language: "Catch the ball!"
Likely result: Watches more television.
Better language: "I read too much television makes people stupid. You might find yourself turning that TV off and picking up one of those books more often!"