What to say
I believe the parenting trend in the last years encourages parents to enable their children to be demanding, helpless, and selfish. We don’t want to think of it that way, but adults need to realize that children are capable of doing much more than we think. Children are also capable of understanding that parents have needs, too. They learn this by the things we say to our children.
In our quest for making certain our children feel loved, accepted, appreciated, and important, we have swung the pendulum the other way. We nix things we could – and should – say to our children. Now we’re seeing the results of coddling and boundary-less days.
Things you can say to your children
- I am busy right now; I can fix it (help you) later. Our children need to understand that we have tasks to accomplish and we do not need to stop what we are doing every single time they ask for help or want our attention. They do not need to have their problem fixed the instant they ask for help. This teaches our children the importance of waiting – and doing so patiently.
- You can do this by yourself, so I am not going to help you. It’s true that there are times our children need help. It might be homework, tying a shoe, or a project. When they really need help, we should help them. Too often, we go ahead and do the task for them or help them hurriedly in order to get it done so we can go back to our task. When a child is capable (even if it takes him a lot longer), give him the blessing of confidence by giving him space to do it himself. If we keep helping him, he will never figure out that he really can do this by himself. This teaches our child to try to help himself before asking for help. It also teaches him that we will help if he really needs help.
- When you ask without whining, I will listen to what you want. This does not mean you will automatically give what he wants, but you will consider his request. Responding to a child’s whine reinforces his whine. This teaches a child to consider his tone of voice – and will lend him courtesy toward others as he grows older.
- You are interrupting me; you need to wait. When you are involved in a conversation with another adult, on the phone with another matter, or in the middle of a task that takes concentration, your child can wait, unless it’s a true emergency. This teaches a child to be considerate of other people’s time and emotions. It also teaches him patience, a virtue all of us lack without training.
- When you . . . then I will (you can) . . . Again, our children will learn to make good choices when there are consequences for poor choices. Instead of saying “You can’t until . . .” trying saying, “When you (finish) (stop) then . . . . You must follow through, or your effort is in vain. You are giving your child motivation to do the right thing to get what they want. This changes the focus from what they are doing wrong to what they can do right. “When your room is clean, then you can . . . ” “When you finish the food on your plate, then you can have ice cream.” Your child gets to make the choice. Does he or does he not want this badly enough to do the when? This choice teaches your child that the choices we make have negative or positive consequences. He gets to choose and therefore lives with – or enjoys – the consequence of his behavior.
The bottom line
The words we say can cause emotional pain. The words we fail to say can also deprive our children of learning life lessons. When you choose your words carefully and for a purpose, you won’t need to be afraid of the things you say to your children.
Photo credit: pixabay.com