I’m a big believer that you are who you say you are. I believe that you are who you believe you are. I believe that you can become (positively or negatively) who others say you are. I believe that our words speak volumes. They say what we think in our hearts, they express what and how the world is perceived from within.
For centuries philosophers have spoken about the world, about love, about life, and about humans. Poets have spent much time trying to explain love, hate, friendship, enemies with rhyming words, similes, and alliterations. Social media now allows us to express how we see ourselves and our own world. We each individually can speak about our lives and others, the world, and our point of view about…everything!
That being said, words speak either life or death, good or bad, truth or lies, kindness or meanness. We each have the chance with our brain moving to our mouth to better someone or to make them worse. We have the power to make their day, and sometimes even their life better or worse.
We especially have this ability with our children. We can either speak words of life and encouragement or words of death and discouragement. This is a very important aspect in our home. My husband and I work to speak life in our children. We don’t give them fake praise (ex. Kid does a half summersault: “Wow. That was a good summersault.”); we only praise them when it’s due. We also don’t use flattery (ex. “You are the strongest boy in the world,” “You are the prettiest girl in the world”); we tell them the truth. But, we make sure that we use every opportunity possible to speak good into their lives. Here are several ways we do this.
If there is something positive they do, something special, something noticeable, we tell them. We make sure we praise their strengths. We watch out for the exemplary things that they do in their life. We make sure we take notice and then praise them for those special things. Each child has strengths, each child will do something great, special, awesome, and these are things that should be noticed and praised.
We use virtues, not vises
Let’s be honest. Kids are kids. They do really un-smart things. They screw up. They annoy us parents. They mess up. It’s GOING to happen. It’s probably going to happen everyday. And much of it is simply because they are children being children, not because they are trying to be bad. When are children do mess up, we try to use the appropriate words and phrases. For instance, a sibling might say to another, “Give me back that toy!” Instead of responding that the child is being “mean,” I would tell my child that they are not being “kind.” This focuses on the positive word, what I want them to do, instead of labeling them as mean. If they spill milk, instead of saying, “Well, that was stupid of you,” I would respond with, “that was not wise. Please keep both hands on the cup next time.” I don’t want to be a parent who focuses on the negative; I want to steer them on how to be better.
Instruction for the future
This leads to the next part of using virtues. After using a virtue, my husband and I make sure that we don’t stop there for two reasons. 1) The child may not fully understand what kinds is or what wisdom means, and 2) We want them to react better in the future. Especially with young children (six years and younger), they don’t always understand the words that come out of our mouths. They are excellent at figuring out connotation, but often they don’t truly understand the meaning of a word. And sometimes, it take several tries for it to really sink in. That’s why I try to use teachable moments as much as possible. I want to make sure they understand what I mean, so they can react appropriately next time. I also want them to know what I expect so that they will rise to the person I am projecting: a person who is kind and wise. If they think I think they are mean or stupid, they will likely begin acting meaner and stupider because that’s what they believe they are in my eyes.
We live in a very screwed up world. There is more negative talk than positive talk. Marriages break up over emotional and verbal abuse. Children don’t go to college because they were told they were too stupid. Other kids go to jail because they were told they were terrible in every possible way and never felt loved. I only have one life and the kids that God gave me. I want to make sure that I speak the words they long and need to hear. I want to equip them to be the best little people and someday big people they can be. I want to see them become the person I know they were made to be and more simply because I believed in them and communicated that with words.
Like this blog? How to help siblings get along better and how to keep kids safe in a parking lot might be two other blogs for your enjoyment.