As an author I use creative phrases all the time, but sometimes at home I find myself repeating the same ones:
- Stop that.
- What were you thinking?
- That wasn’t a very good choice.
Sometimes these phrases are well-deserved. “No, you cannot fill the bathtub with jello.” But most of the time the words slip out because I’m tired. Or they spill out from habit. It takes work for me to notice my child and to find something good in his or her actions. It takes effort to point out areas where I see growth in my child, instead of simply pointing out faults.
Yet when I take the time to speak words of truth and hope, I can see a difference in my child’s eyes and attitude. As a mom of younger kids, I know positive words encourages good behaviors. And as a mom of adult kids I also know what a difference they make in the long run. Our words mold our children’s future one syllable at a time.
If you, too, need to focus on using your words more positively, here are a few phrases to start with:
I’m proud of you.
Look your child in the eye and say this. These words should not be dependent on grades or performance. Be proud of your child for doing his best, for trying, and for not giving up.
God has great plans for you.
It’s easy for your child to compare her weaknesses to other kids’ strengths. She may wonder why she’s not a better ball player, singer, or writer. She needs to know God designed her exactly how He wants and needs her . . . and He has good plans for her future.
You made a great choice.
It’s easy to point out when our kids mess up, but when their choices are affirmed they will strive to make good choices more often. “That was a good media choice.” “Great job starting your homework before you went out to play.” “I appreciate your choice to share with your sister.”
We don’t have to take everything in life so seriously. Before every sporting event, recital, speech, or performance remind your child to have fun. It’s not about winning; it’s about doing her best—and usually when a child is having fun she does a better job and wants to do it again.
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