Help Your Kids with Your Words – 13 Ways
Words are such an amazing force. Your words can help your kids or do such great damage. Words stick with people over time, so even though they are spoken in just a moment of time the effects are much greater.
Let’s look at some ways your words can help your kids.
1. Model positivity
If you speak positively, you are much more likely to see the good in situations. Because of that, you tend to be more resilient through the challenging times.
When I was in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She didn’t seem worried; my mom spoke about it like it was any other cold or flu. I remember she had her license plate changed to say “OK SOFAR” because she felt she was okay. In her mind, there was no need to worry about anything else until needed.
This positivity helped our whole family accept her diagnosis with an attitude of hope and faith.
She could easily have complained about the diagnosis, how unfair it was, about feeling bad from the chemotherapy and losing her hair. But, she chose to speak positively!
Our children need to be taught the power of a positive direction in our life from our words. Sometimes it isn’t so easy to see the good. This post, How to Keep Your Good Mood All Day, gives more tips for remaining positive.
What a gift we can give our children to help them see the good in life, and in all situations. Help your kids see the good by speaking positively around them.
It might just be catching!
2. Praise your kids where they are now
It is so easy to point out the obvious to our kids.
“Your room is a mess!”
“You missed 4 words on your spelling test.”
“You need to stop arguing all the time.”
But, what if we tried to praise them where they are instead?
As an educator, there are many people who are excellent role models for influencing kids and encouraging them.
One of my favorites is Rita Pierson. Watch this clip and you will quickly learn why I love her so much.
See now why I love her! What an impact we can make on our kids if we let them know that we see them where they are. They have to be doing something right!
What an impact we can make on our kids if we let them know that we see them where they are. They have to be doing something right!
Point out what they are doing right. Our kids are doing a lot right (no matter how small).
Help your kids to keep making improvements by showing them what they are already doing right!
3. Use your words to encourage a change in behavior
When Rita Pierson talks to the student she asks him if he thinks he can do better after they review it. He says “Yes, I can do that!”.
- She didn’t command him to try harder.
- She didn’t punish him until he did more work.
- Instead, she used her words to help him determine his own course of action.
Quite often, our children need to decide on their own they will do something. Then, children are more likely to find success.
Be an influencer for your child.
Your words help your kids when they are led to discover a course of action. The, they feel it is their idea. And, they have a feeling of accomplishment rather than simply feeling they had to do something.
4. Build self-esteem in your child(ren)
I have been amazed at how early in life my youngest daughter started to worry about her appearance.
She hears one comment about her looks and frets. If someone mentions her freckles, she then decides they make her look weird. When a neighbor compliments someone’s pretty blonde hair, she immediately hates her beautiful dark brown, full head of wavy hair. (Can you hear the envy in my voice?).
Her older, athletic brothers compare abs searching for a 6-pack. What does she do?
She pulls up her shirt and decides she is pudgy and needs to diet!
Come on! I know about needing a diet (from personal experience), and that is NOT her.
What can I do? Talk about how beautifully she was created. Point out beauty in all its different shapes, colors, sizes and styles everywhere around us. Help her see beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Also, remind her beauty is in the things a person does. Beauty is kindness, sharing, compassion, and friendship.
Use your words to help your kids see the good in themselves.
5. Help them hear a bright future
Have you heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?
When kids are told they are dumb, they will often quit trying because they believe they are dumb.
If you tell yourself you are going to gain weight over the holidays, you are more likely to give in to all the goodies spread out during the holidays and gain some extra pounds.
Imagine you are going to a play with your family. You tell yourself it is going to be boring, thereby causing yourself to block from view any good of the situation. You cause yourself to be bored in what could have been a fun, entertaining play.
These are just a few examples of the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Help your kids decide they are capable of good. Tell them they are bright, creative, fun, kind, and strong.
6. Let them know they are a blessing
Every family is different. Of the families with children, some families have biological children and some have adopted. Some may be foster-parents. Others may be wards of legal guardians. Regardless of how they came to you, as a mom, you feel blessed to have your child(ren).
My five children were all adopted. I never want that to make them feel less appreciated. I want them to know they are special.
When they were younger I would read them the book, Just In Case You Ever Wonder. This book speaks to how wonderfully your child was created (whether a biological child or adopted). And, how you will love them in
all situations, and forever.
Meredith, at Perfection Pending, created a list of 9 Uplifting Things to Say to Your Kids Every Day. She offers a lot of wonderful suggestions for how us moms can encourage our children.
Read her post for more suggestions to help your kids be all they can become!
7. Tell your child how to improve, rather than belittling him
As a mom, sometimes we are stretched pretty thin.
I know when I am trying to fill the dishwasher, get my kids ready to leave for school, and make sure I have everything I need for work, I don’t always choose my words well.
This is when I say things like “cut it out!”, “stop being mean to your sister” or “can’t you just do what you are asked?”.
When we get frazzled, it is easy to say things without thinking it through. This post on Parents Need Continuing Education offers more tips on making sure you stay calm and healthy.
I worry about how the things I say in those minutes affects my kids. I never want them to feel that I am putting them down. So, a goal of mine is to suggest how to improve instead of belittling them.
How can we correct behavior without speaking negatively?
Rather than say “Stop being greedy”, say “You need to share more”.
Instead of “You are being mean”, try “I know you can be nicer than that”.
As we use these phrases more to encourage improvement in our child’s behavior, we will be less likely to use the negative, belittling words. And, hopefully, we will have less of a need to correct our children at all.
Help your kids by encouraging them with your words.
8. Speak to her as an individual
“Why can’t you be more like your sister?”. Comparing one child to another makes them feel inferior.
We all have room for improvement. But, we don’t want to be told someone is better than us. Don’t build competition between siblings or friends. It never ends well.
Avoid comparing your child. Treat him or her like an individual.
9. Tell your children you trust them.
Until you don’t.
I don’t want my kids to feel like I am watching their every move. I have been there and done that and it isn’t worth my stress, time or effort. And, they will never become trustworthy if I don’t give them the opportunity.
Rather than accusing your children of something, ask if they know how it happened.
Starting the conversation this way gives them the opportunity to do the right thing.
Teach your children that if they do something wrong they should tell you. But, when push comes to shove not many kids are going to want to come forward and admit to a wrongdoing. By giving them the benefit of the doubt, you are showing that you are not judging them. Rather, trusting them.
I tell my kiddos that I trust them to make the right choices. But, when they lose that trust through choices they make it takes a while to earn my trust again.
I have seen this quote several times – “Trust takes years to earn, seconds to break and forever to repair.”
I want my kids to know I start by trusting them. My feeling is – “You have my trust. But, it takes seconds to break and much longer to put back together.”
10. Show them how to “adult”
Don’t get into an argument with your kids. They are children. You are the adult.
I saw a quote several times this week.
“Adulting is like folding a fitted sheet”
This, to me, is an impossible task.
But, being the adult doesn’t have to be that difficult. Show your children they need to respect you, by first respecting them.
They may yell at you. They may say they hate you or that you are stupid, or any other number of things. If that happens, remind them you are the adult. Don’t yell back. Don’t engage in an argument, no matter how tempting.
When my kids think I am mean because of a choice I made, or a consequence they don’t like. I tell them I do it because I love them.
A prime example is the cell phone. Ugh, the dreaded cell phone!
My older son (in eighth grade) argues that he needs a cell phone. Everybody has a cell phone. He thinks it is unfair, embarrassing, and mean because we won’t let him have one.
I tell him I understand his viewpoint, but as the parent, I have a different point of view. I see the troubles they cause other kids; the dangers involved, the cost, and the responsibility.
I love you. And, because I love you I will always do what I think is best for you. I might be wrong. You might not like it. But at least it comes from a place of love.
Help your kids by not stooping to their level. Show them you are the adult.
11. Let your kids hear you apologize
We all make mistakes. I make more than my share at times. But, I know in my heart I always feel bad and want to do better.
If I forget to do something I needed to do, I apologize. Then, I say what I will do to try to prevent the mistake in the future.
If I say a bad word (yes… unfortunately, this happens more than I would like), I apologize. I remind them I am far from perfect but that I will try to do better.
I try to make up nonsense words that are more appropriate. Or, I take a deep breath and leave the room. In any case, I am showing the attempt to fix my problem.
I want my children to know it is okay to make mistakes. And, this also shows the vital process of problem-solving and aiming to improve.
So, don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes. Use them to help your kids. Show them how mistakes can lead to growth and improvement.
12. Teach forgiveness
As a school teacher, it is best to avoid emotion when correcting students.
To simply let a child know she did wrong and state the consequence (if one is needed) is best. To yell, get emotional, or lose your temper, will always end badly. Either you will regret it, other students will be offended or you may even end up on Facebook.
The same is true in parenting. My child most likely did not do something wrong just to make me mad. Most likely he did something that provided him with some reward.
Regardless, he made a bad choice.
As a parent, it is always best to try and keep emotions at bay when disciplining a child. Sometimes this is easier said than done.
So whether you do it immediately, or let an hour or two go by, let them know you love them.
All children need to see and know unconditional love. Help your kids know they are forgiven and that they are loved.
13. Help your kids feel good
Can you think of someone who just being around him or her makes you feel good?
I know growing up a dear family friend, Carol Jones, was that person for me. She just spoke in this way that made you feel special. Maybe it was something she said, but my guess is that it was in the way she spoke.
I would love for my kids to feel that way around me.
We can comfort our little ones with affection. We can tell them how special they are, and how they are loved.
But, I think there is something so special in the tone of voice a person chooses to use when speaking that determines the type of connection one will feel.
Help your kids, young or old, feel the comfort in your words. Surround them with a love they can hear through the tone you use.
You know, our children can hear our frustrations and anger when we speak to them. Be sure to also let them hear love, compassion, and hope in our voices.
On average, a person speaks between 10,000 and 25,000 words a day.
So, remember –
With something so powerful, we should truly be more cautious in how we use our words.
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