O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little ears what you hear
Do you remember that children’s song? What do you do to protect what your children hear—from the world, from their friends, even from you and your husband? In her book Raising Uncommon Kids, author Sami Cone talks about the power of words and reiterates that:
In fact, one of the most common mistakes we make as parents is assuming our kids don’t hear us. I would argue that they do in fact hear most of what we have to say; whether they choose to listen is a completely different story.
One of the worst ways we discredit our children is not just by speaking ill to them but by speaking ill of them. As parents, we are quick to label our children—for good or bad. These labels become part of our vernacular and pop out easily when chatting with friends, such as referring to individual kids as ‘my easy one’ or ‘the funny one’—or worse yet, ‘my difficult one.’ Not only will your children begin to adopt these labels if they hear them repeatedly, but they tend to take on the opposite label if they realize a certain attribute is already taken… As you can imagine, that doesn’t always emerge in a positive way.
One of the worst ways we discredit our children is not just by speaking ill to them but by speaking ill of them.
So here are Sami’s 3 ways to begin to change the communication tone in your household:
1. The Power of the Positive
I’ve never been able to shake the powerful image I first read about in the book The Ultimate Gift Series by Jim Stovall.
It’s a tale about a boy whose grandfather required him to hammer a nail in their fence every time he uttered something negative. After some time had passed, he allowed him to remove a nail from the fence each time he said something positive. The boy soon discovered that he’d trained his speech to where he spoke more positive than negative words, yet nothing could be done to fill the holes left by the nails.
The point was this: even when the nails were removed—representing the replacement of negative with positive—the marks and scars remained. Even if we apologize after letting negative remarks fly from our mouths, we cannot erase the original effects of those words on the receiver. The sooner we train ourselves to respond in a positive way, even when angry, the sooner the trickle effect will take place in our homes.
2. The Power of Pause
Some of us think to speak, while others speak to think; usually each type marries the other. This is certainly true in our home.
While my husband likes to take time alone to process incidents before he speaks about them, I allow my thoughts to form as the words barrel out of my mouth. Neither is right or wrong; they’re merely different.
When it comes to dealing with others, however, especially our kids, we’ve found it helpful to take a moment to pause before saying anything we could potentially regret. In the heat of the moment, it becomes easy to hurl out insults and hurtful remarks in an effort to match the pain we experience. Instead, we’ve instituted a three-count rule: before saying anything, we ask our kids to count to three.
The power of pause not only allows for some breathing room in typically tense situations, but it makes each of us consider whether what we are about to say is something we actually want to say.
3. The Power of Perspective
We are all limited by our unique experiences and perspectives. The opposite of gentleness is wrath, which usually emerges when we believe our rights are being violated.
The truth is that we won’t always agree on the same perspective, even if everyone in the family experiences the same event at the same time. We have to be willing to concede that our way is not necessarily the right way. Our willingness to approach a situation from a new perspective could not only broaden our own knowledge base but also soften the hearts of those whose perspective we’re taking.
The one thing that irks me the most is the tone my children frequently use when speaking to each other. It’s not uncommon for me to hear snarky, sassy, or sarcastic comments casually being batted back and forth between them. Yet before I can criticize or correct them, I need to realize where they most likely learned that behavior in the first place. The real culprit and teacher is how we interact with them day in and day out.
So not only do we need to protect the little ears from what they hear, we need to be careful Mommy and Daddy what we say.
How do you encourage positive communication in your home?
Source: Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids by Sami Cone