The way we speak to our kids becomes their inner voice. In the middle of a stressful situation, it can be hard to find the words to express the kind of mindfulness and positive language we want to model.
When you treat your kids with love and respect, you’ll strengthen your bond. Over the years, I have learnt to make small adjustments to my words, and I would like to share them with you. Here are 6 ways to bring more positive language into your home.
Instead of “You’re naughty” try “You can do better than that” or “You’ve made a poor choice”
Saying things like “you’re naughty” or “you’re a bad child” changes the way children perceive themselves. If they begin to view themselves as bad, they’re more likely to misbehave. Instead, tell your child that they’ve made a poor choice. Our kids need to know that they’re still good kids even if they sometimes make bad choices.
Instead of “stop crying or don’t be sad” try “it’s okay to cry” or “it’s okay to be sad”
When kids are expressing their emotions, we’re very quick to tell them how they should be feeling. We say things like, “stop crying” or “don’t be sad.” If we continue to discourage our kids from expressing their emotions, they will eventually stop. We need to allow our kids to cry if they need to cry and work through their emotions by validating their feelings.
Instead of “Calm down” try “Breathe, I’m here to help”
Someone telling me to calm down in the heat of the moment has never actually calmed me down! But if I take a moment to focus on slowing my breath, that naturally leads to me calming down. Reassure your child that you are there to support them.
Instead of “How many times must I tell you” try “ Do you remember that we spoke about this the other day”
Sometimes we need to evaluate our expectations as parents. Are our expectations appropriate for our kid’s age? We always need to keep in mind that our role as parents is to teach, and sometimes we need to teach the same thing repeatedly. This can be extremely frustrating, I know, but I’m afraid it comes with the territory. “How many times must I tell you” is a little condescending. Authoritarian parenting strategies do not allow the child to develop an independent voice.
Instead of “Stop being such a baby” try “Tell me how you’re feeling”
That’s probably the last thing your child wants to hear when they’re upset. It invalidates their feelings and makes them reluctant to talk to you.
Instead of “Because I said so” try explaining why you feel a certain way about something.
The “my way or the highway approach” might have worked when we were growing up, but it doesn’t make right. It makes children feel like their opinions don’t matter.
Parenting is a difficult job, and we all make mistakes at times. How we speak to our children influences the way they view the world and themselves. So we need to talk to them in a healthy manner to make them feel supported and loved. Practice these 6 ways to bring more positive language into your home and see how it affects the relationship you have with your kids.
Photography: Elsie B Photography