In the book, Playing For Keeps, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy have identified six things that every kid needs over time (Time, Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, Fun). My focus this week is on the topic of words.
Words can encourage or tear down. Reggie Joiner says, “If you want your child to know they matter, then it matters what words you use when you engage them in conversation and talk about them with others. The words you use will help your child to feel significant, valued and unique.” If you believe that the words you use matter, then you need to think before you speak!
What kind of words do you use in your conversations with your child? What kind of words do your children hear when you are talking about others? What comes out of your mouth when your child misbehaves?
The following are contributors to negative messages communicated to a child:
Anger- Anger creates fear in the heart of a child. Outbursts of anger seldom produce something that is good. When there is misuse of anger a child concludes that they are just an annoyance and disappointment to their parents. These conclusions can produce deep hurt in the heart of a child. When words come out with anger someone usually is hurt or offended.
Crabbiness- Parents need to recognize when they are having a bad day. Sometimes lack of sleep can contribute to bad attitudes. Crabbiness often produces unkind words.
Yelling- What method do you use to get the attention of your child? If you are a “yeller” eventually your child will learn how to tune you out. Yelling over and over again does not achieve what a parent wants. Most parents want the undivided attention of their child. A calm approach with kind words builds respect.
Reacting- When we react (speak before we think) to our child’s misbehavior unkind words come out. Words like, “You always” or “You never.” When you catch your child in a moment of disobedience, take 10 deep breaths and think before you speak. Self-control will provide for you enough time to think about what you’re going to say.
The following are contributors to positive messages communicated to a child:
Aware- A child feels loved when a parent is aware of the little and big successes and recognizes those achievements with words of affirmation.
Initiative- When a parent initiates spending time with their child just because they care, a child starts to believe that they are a priority. Taking the initiative to spend time with your child communicates genuine love.
Humility- When a parent humbles themselves and recognizes their role in causing relational hurt with their child and initiates saying “I am sorry,” relational repair can begin. A parent’s humility sets a positive example for a child to examine their own heart. This kind of initiative is the beginning of reducing the tension that builds when conflicts are not resolved.
Unity- Tension in the home is minimized when mom and dad are caring for each other and working as a unified team. The tension of unresolved conflict between a husband and wife is felt by the children. Harsh words come out when there is tension. Too often those harsh words are said to a child who has nothing to do with the core problem.
Words can encourage or tear down. Choose your words wisely!