Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Way We Talk To Our Children

A friend of mine has this quote displayed in her kitchen.

"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. Discipline with soft words."

I love this reminder. Words are so powerful. As are the tone they are spoken with.

As parents, we yield quite a bit of power to influence our children's inner thoughts. We can influence the first thoughts they think when they wake up in the morning, the last thoughts before they go to bed at night ... and many thoughts in between.

This motto is easy to keep when everything is sailing smoothly, but the challenge comes when things are tense or when we are disciplining our children -- those times when anger or frustration is present. 

I also love the verse she has written above it, "Encourage one another and build each other up." That is what Jesus commands us to do. We must use our words to build people up, rather than tear them down.

Some examples of negatively using our words with our children are phrases such as these: "I can't believe you did that." or "What is the matter with you?" or "How could you do that?" or "You're a bad boy." or "You're so stupid." If this is how we speak to our children, these are the messages they will replay over and over in their minds throughout their lives. I don't know about you, but that is not how I want my children thinking about themselves.

Here's a personal example. The other night, we were trying to decide if we were going to go out for dinner or stay home. Tyler had a meltdown in the middle of it, because he wanted to stay home, but he also wanted to go out. He just couldn't decide. 

My husband got very frustrated by Tyler's tears and indecision and used some of the phrases I mentioned above. Rightfully so, Paul was frustrated with the situation. He doesn't like to see Tyler get upset over something seemingly so small. But what good do those phrases do in building up a child? Don't they just make the child feel worse?

I took a different approach that night by gently asking Tyler questions about why he was so upset and why he wanted to stay home. Wouldn't you know it, within a minute or two he came to the decision that he would like to go out. (I'm so glad he did! We had the best time!)

I'm not saying I always perform this well as a parent. And I'm not throwing Paul under the bus by sharing this example! He's on board! But, I share the story, because little lessons like these can help us all use our words to build up our children, instead of tear them down.

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