4 Things That Create Word Power
Your words are super powerful when it comes to influencing your children—either positively or negatively. Consider these four things that can charge your words with healing and encouragement or make them sharp as knives:
1. Language. There are multiple word choices available for almost every possible expression. Before you speak, ask yourself if the words you’re about to say are the best choice to communicate an idea to your child accurately and with love. For instance, saying to your daughter, “Don’t eat that—it’ll make you fat!” may stop her from reaching for the doughnut, but it may also make her unnecessarily focused on body image or self-conscious. In contrast, saying, “Let’s make a healthier choice for your snack today,” redirects her actions but without all the emotional baggage. (10 Things Boys Want to Hear From Their Moms)
When it comes to language, try to avoid absolutes and extremes. “Never” and “always” are seldom applicable, while “usually” or “rarely” are typically more accurate and fair. “You never listen to me,” is probably not as accurate as “You’re not listening to my instructions and obeying enough lately.” Be precise with your words—it matters.
2. Tone. We all know that it drives us nuts when our kids say the “right” thing but do so in a sarcastic tone. Likewise, it pushes our children’s buttons when we use harsh or condescending tones of voice when talking to them. Furthermore, it says to them that this is an acceptable way to communicate with others, and it destroys your own credibility for when you’ll try to correct the habit in them.
Respect is a two-way street. Yes, children are to obey their parents, but we make it far easier for our children to want to do so when we model courtesy and respect in the way we relate to them, as well.
3. Volume. My mother was a first grade teacher for many years. Other teachers used to marvel at the fact that they never heard her raise her voice to get the attention of her class or to restore order. Her explanation was that she didn’t need to. When she wanted to say something, she simply stood and started speaking softly, and the children had to quiet down to hear what was being said. She didn’t compete for air space. She just set a standard that a soft tone of voice was appropriate in the classroom, and if you wanted to hear what was about to happen next, you had to listen! It always worked.
Some moms spend all day yelling and barking to get their kids moving, and then wonder why the kids yell and bark at one another so much. (Or even worse, raise their voices when speaking to their parents.) Try turning down the volume and restoring some peace in your home. It may require that you (quietly) remind your child of the consequences of not obeying the first time and then actually follow through. But we promise you can develop parenting skills that don’t require you to shriek all day long.
4. Integrity. Kids are incredibly gifted when it comes to sniffing out hypocrisy or insincerity. If your words fail to line up with your actions, they lose their power almost instantly. Live an authentic life in front of your children, and hold yourself to such a high standard of integrity with regard to what you say that when you speak, they know they can take it to the bank.
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