THE WAY WE TALK TO OUR CHILDREN BECOMES THEIR INNER VOICE
By Becky Mansfield
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Every morning, it starts over. We get a chance to shape the lives of our children. The way that we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.
Think about when your kids make a poor decision… they spill milk on their homework (when they aren’t supposed to be eating or drinking near it), they break your favorite picture frame (when they shouldn’t be throwing a ball in the house), they don’t clean up their room, they track mud into the house… each thing after you’ve told them time and time again what to do. Your first reaction “Ugh! I wish that you would have listened to me… this would not have happened!”
I get it, because I did this, too.
Last year, Mickey and I started trying something different. We looked at the ACTION, not our kids. Instead of reacting with anger, we reacted with empathy. I stopped yelling, stop reprimanding, but instead, just gave the consequence with sincere empathy.
Yes, our words resonate with our children.
Remind your kids that you love them, no matter what they’ve done.
THESE FOUR WORDS WILL CHANGE THE WAY THAT YOU PARENT:
“I LOVE YOU AND…”
You are telling them that you love them even though they have done something that you aren’t happy about. That doesn’t change how much you love them.
When our kids do something that I disapprove of, I often start with “I love you so much. Your choice today made me really sad, and it wasn’t what I expected from you” or I will discipline them and talk to them afterward. I tell our kids, every day, “I love you all the time. I love you when I am happy or sad. I love you when I am excited or angry. I love you when you make good choices and bad choices. I love you when you are home or away” … (the list goes on & on).
Our kids do it, too. Just yesterday, Ethan (our 5-year old) said, “Mom, I’m sorry that I wasn’t nice to you today at lunch. I was mad because I wanted peanut butter and jelly. I love you all the time, even when I’m mad at you.”
You can’t take it back.
I was a teacher and one time I had a conference with a student and his family. When I told his parents about his declining reading score, he looked right at his son and said “Do you even try?” and looked back at me and said, “Sometimes, he can be so dumb.”
I was dumbfounded.
What on earth is going on here?! I used that opportunity to build up the child and explain his many, many strengths. The point is that you can’t take it back. You can’t take back words like “lazy” or “dumb” or “thoughtless” or “mean” – once they are out there, they stay out there. Your kids continue to hear these words in their heads.
Instead of “You are so lazy. Get up and help me!” Try “You work so hard. Can you give me a hand? It will get done so much faster.” I can (almost) guarantee that it will work 100% better than going the negative route. Instead of tearing them down, you are building them up and achieving the same end result: they are helping you.
Today, use your words to help your kids. If you are looking for more on the subject, check out the course Parenting Manual 101.