Have you ever experienced any of the following? (Or overheard them with another family?)
- Your child refuses to listen and continues to pour syrup on the kitchen floor even as you are yelling, “STOP!!”
- Your child tells you how awful dinner is after you cooked all afternoon.
- Your child put his socks in the hamper. “Good job.” Your child finishes breakfast. “Good job.” Your child climbs to the top of the wall at the park. “Good job.” Your child kicks the soccer ball across the field. “Good job.” Your child draws a cloud. “Good job.”
- “I hate you. I hate you,” says every child everywhere at least once or twice in their life.
- Your child can’t fall asleep and begins to cry. “Oh, you’re alright. Just close your eyes and go to sleep.”
As parents, we’ve got a lot on our mind that’s not related to parenting. Yet children demand attention and often our resources are depleted or we’re going in a hundred different directions. We often say things without thinking too much about them. After all, these can be long days and we must interact…so…much…
Just as I coach parents to give their children opportunities to practice expected behaviors, parents need that, too. And one of those behaviors is how we talk to our kids.
Here’s 5 things to say to your child. Memorize them. Use them. Repeat often.
1. When You’re Mad: “I love you too much to yell. I need a break, then we’ll work it out together.”
2. When You’re Proud: “I love to watch you____________.” – (draw, swim, play soccer, etc. – whatever you were going to praise the child for).
3. When Your Child Complains: “Hmm.”
4. When Your Child Says They Hate You: Say nothing. (It’s not about you.)
5. When Your Child has Trouble Sleeping: “You are Safe. You are Loved. You are Sleepy.”
These words are your respectful friends and replace the improvised sentences that come out when we are tired or busy or unaware. Having them on the tip of your tongue will also help you avoid over-talking.
Post these on your bathroom mirror or the fridge until they become habit.