How-To choose right words to talk to your child (Your words become your child’s reality. R u choosing Wisely?)

Choose right words to talk to your child: My daughter has trouble reading. Let me correct myself. My daughter “Thinks” she has trouble reading. There is a whole lot of difference between what I initially said to what I corrected myself to.

So why does she ‘think’ so. When she was in kindergarten the mistake, we made was enrolling her in a school that focused only on academic excellence. Even if children were not developed to that particular milestone. 

They started insisting that children read from the time they were in kindergarten. And every parent teacher meeting that I have attended the only thing I had the teacher say to me was that she can’t read. 

And 4 years later the best excuse I find my daughter give for anything close to reading is “I can’t read”. Is it really the truth? Is she struggling “NO”? A DIY that I ask her to read and do is done perfectly but in general the will and the wish to read even a simple sign board is not there. It’s like she has convinced herself she can’t read and she resists trying. 

Topics covered in this blog

Introduction

If you keep feeding your child junk food. Then obesity and other related problems of having an unhealthy diet is not far away. The body suffers from the food habits your child has. 

Why do we think that it is any different when it comes to how the brain eats the words we speak? What they have heard through their ears is pretty much what it processes and stores in your child’s head. 

So, it should not be a surprise when they start believing all that you have said out of anger and actually turn out to be just that.

Why should you choose right words to talk to your child?

If I have to summarise in a simple sentence why you should choose right words to talk to your child.

I quote something that I had read that sounds very true. 

“Your children will become what you tell them they will be”.

What you speak to them, the words that choose right words to talk to your child or use to speak to them will be there in a voice.

It will be the guiding light for them to stop and they will resort back to remembering the words that you use to define who they are over a period of time.

 

Here are a dozen (12) straightforward reasons why you should intentionally choose right words to talk to your child.

  1. The main one to choose right words to talk to your child is that They will believe you. This should be good enough for you to start to choose right words to talk to your child. The question you can ask yourself is:  What if your child believes what you have just told them in a fit of anger?
  2. When you speak to your child with the right voice tone words you would be surprised that they are very receptive to what you have to say. and they will most likely listen to what you are saying.
  3. When you intentionally choose right words to talk to your child. You will be passing across the hidden message that will make your child feel loved and secured with you.
  4. The right words to speak will never be that which is demeaning or dis-respectful to a kid. And when you display this behaviour to your child it is more than likely that the kid will also start displaying respectful behaviour.
  5. Your relationship with your child will improve because there is love and concern in your talk when you practice to choose right words to talk to your child. 
  6. When your communication lines are open and there by understanding, increase. They will feel free to reach out to you to seek your help in need.
  7. You will be creating a good model for them to enact. They will start to display such behaviour in their own interactions with others. 
  8. To build a healthy legacy. The impact of your talk on your children and the way you talk to them will also some way influence the way they talk with their children. (Your grandchildren). So, on and so forth.
  9. With accessibility to you. And when choose right words to talk to your child, you will breath confidence and assertiveness in your children.
  10. When you listen to them and answer them appropriately with the right words. They feel worthy. When you spend time talking to them. And their information or issues are important to you also.
  11. They will respect and trust you more when you intentionally choose right words to talk to your child.
  12. It instils thoughtfulness in your child. To be able to control their spontaneous reply and be thoughtful and mindful about the words that they choose and pick. 

You might be interested in reading the article How to develop self-confidence in your teenager and How-To help build self-esteem in your teenager

How to choose right words to talk to your child

When you are having a conversation with another person to stop without any disturbance you are basically syncing your brains to that of the person you are conversing with. 

So, in that way whatever is spoken by way of conversation goes to the brain and with full words or words that cause self-doubt it is more than likely that these words can also get registered in their brains.

Remember it is still a conversation even if your child is young, even a baby or a toddler. And the way you interact and talk to them form an impression. 

Below are some of the ways that you need to keep in mind as you choose right words to talk to your child. And when you are having a conversation with your child. This will help you have the conversation in the right way that is both enabling and uplifting. 

  1. When you are conversing with your child (the serious kind), Be specific. Don’t go round and round and rant. BE specific to the point so the message is loud and clear. 
  2. Make sure your choice of words is not only positive but also pleasant. Use positive affirmation like I love you or you were good etc along with pleasant ones like “Thank You”, “May I”, “Please” etc.
  3. Sometimes when you look deep into kids’ misdeeds or actions. You will find that it is because they lacked the problem-solving skills to do it. So, Check and see if you can give them suggestions and alternatives rather than just reprimanding them.
  4. Be considerate. Try and appreciate the intent in which your little one tried to do the thing. My cousin put an electronic gadget in water because she wanted me to have a squeaky-clean gadget. 
  5. Sometimes they may not get the result that is expected but they would have put in a lot of effort. In such cases, appreciate the effort they have put in doing it even if the result was not what you have expected or completed.  
  6. What you tell others that your child hears can also affect the child. If you tell someone ‘your son is lazy’ is not going to get him to become a busy bee. So, the best way is to talk about them if you have something good to say or don’t have to talk at all.  Praise them publicly and privately.
  7. The best way to deal with misdoing or misdeed is to be firm yet gentle. More like an iron fist with a velvet glove. In that way your kid gets the needed message yet not gets personally wounded or feels attacked. 
  8. Use a gentle and pleasant tone. That way it is not unnerving for your kid who is listening to you. And your kid will concentrate on your words more than the tone that you take. 
  9. Once in a while during the conversation take a pause and check for understanding. Check if your child is receiving the message they are supposed to receive and not either stuck by your tone or mannerisms that they are throwing a blank at you. Or You are not being specific enough that they are not able to get the message. 
  10. Let your conversation be one that lets your love and respect for your kid shine throughout the conversation. Conduct the conversation in a manner that is open and accepting and progressive than one which is accusing.

You might be interested in reading the article 20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You

9 things to avoid when you are talking to your child

The way you interact with your child. Will pretty much be how your child will interact with others. So, you need to lead by example

Below are some of the important ways you should not talk to a child to avoid leaving a nasty impression on your kid and their behaviour. 

  1. Do not Interrupt: When your kid is talking to you. Do not interrupt. Rather exercise patience and hear them though. That way you will be able to understand all they have to say along with intent, effort and their feelings. Your response will be more effective when you know these things. 
  2. Don’t Rush: When you are having a conversation with them don’t try and rush them up though the conversations. Young kids may not even have the skill or the vocabulary to get their point across effectively. And older kids might just stop telling you or skipping all the facts that might be helpful for you to know. So once again exercise patience. 
  3. Don’t use negative words: Be sure to not use negative words all the time. That way you will land up being a dictator and you kid will land up ignoring your “don’ts” and “no’s”. 
  4. Don’t Nag: No good comes out of nagging. It irritates the hell out of us and our kids. And if you get into a cycle of nagging then you kids will start getting immune to it. And they will only develop a habit that will make them do anything you ask them to after constant nagging. You don’t want this. 
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff: If you land up taking both the small stuff and the big stuff equally and seriously. Your kid will start losing relevance between them. Also, such an attitude might make the kid feel useless because the message that they are constantly receiving from you is that they are not good enough to do anything. 
  6. Don’t yell and if you do apologize: Try your best to use a gentle and pleasant tone. However, it is difficult at all times. In such cases if you land up yelling. Also be quick to apologize for your behaviour. It will not only set a good example for your kid but also build more trust in the conversation. 
  7. Don’t space out: When you are having a conversation don’t space out. Or think of something else, multitask. Or look around. Be involved in the conversation so you can convey your message and also pick up cues from your kid.
  8. Don’t use guilt or shame: Don’t blackmail or shame or guilt your kid into doing something. Or to make them feel very bad about themselves. Correct the action and not take them into a guilt trip.
  9. Don’t name call or brand: Be extremely cautious of the sweeping statements you make. You may not intend it but it is still hurtful. Ensure that you don’t brand or name call your child like “lazy”, “useless”, “bad” etc. 

Read our interesting articles How-To develop Positive Thinking in your teenager and How to influence your teenager’s mental well-being

15 Tactical things to do if you like to have effective conversation

  1. Soft openers: Use soft openings to start a conversation… Things like “Sweety, asking you out of curiosity…”
  2. Touch: When you talk to your kid. Make sure that you touch them. It can be a friendly pat or just holding their hand when you talk to them. It establishes a physical connection and a buy-in into the conversation. 
  3. Eye Contact: While you talk, maintain direct eye contact. If kids are small get down to their eye level and talk. That way they are pulled in to listen to you. 
  4. Name: Try and address them by their name when you are talking to them. You connect better and also you will keep them involved in the conversation you are having. 
  5. Smile: A smile is always very reassuring. You need to look pleasant and smile more often so that you set a bit relaxed and loving environment for your conversation. 
  6. Surrounding: Be mindful of the surrounding. Pick places where you are not disturbed. Or places where it can be overheard and it might put your child in an uncomfortable situation. 
  7. Mental List: If you are having time to gather your thoughts and plan of addressing your child. Make a mental list so that your talk with them is effective and to the point. Plus, you will not miss out on the message you like to convey to your kid. 
  8. Invite them into the conversation: Don’t have a monolog. Ask open ended questions and let them talk. Hear what they have to say. This way you can keep the conversation going and your questions keep pulling them back to the conversation. 
  9. Non-verbal cues: Pay attention to the non-verbal cues you are getting from your kid. If you find your kid looking all guilty and apologetic. There is no point in progressing further and making them feel more guilty. Structure the depth of your conversations based on these cues.
  10. Body Language: Be mindful of your body language. Is it relaxed or tense? Are you appearing gentle or menacing? Are you talking normally or biting your teeth? Is your arms open or fist clenched? 
  11. Micro Expression: make effective use of micro positive expression – expressions like a nod in agreement, or a gesture to say you too feel bad etc. Use your facial expressions to match the words you are speaking or hearing. 
  12. Modulate your voice: Just like expressions, voice modulation makes the conversation interesting. A stern voice when you are given a strong message, a relaxed one when you are trying to chat up. 
  13. Clear “I”: Make sure you have clear “I” messages. In that way you are calling your kids attending to the “I” and they are clear on what you expect and what you want or wish them to do. E.g. “I like you to do this…”, “I am not happy with your behaviour at the store…”.
  14. Me-too: Have instance of me-too movements where you make your kid understand that you have also gone through such a situation. Communication with stories is also very effective. This will help to build a new level of comradeship between you two. 
  15. Feel your kids feeling: Use empathy to feel what your kid is feeling. And embrace shame with empathy with words like “I know it sucks, but….”, “I can understand how you must be feeling, maybe next time…”

You might be interested in reading the article How to Get your Point Across to Your Teenager and How-To Motivate Your Kids to Do ANYTHING

Good Things to tell your kid often – What to talk to your kid

To choose right words to talk to your child means to speak these things to your kid consistently over a period of time. And you will find that they not only believe you. They will also tell the same thing to themselves. You will soon find them trying to live up to these words and expectations.

Also, you will find that when you tell these words to your kid. You are not only breathing life into your kids but you will also start believing in these abilities in your kid. That way even your interaction with your kid will elevate.

  1. They are strong and brave
  2. They are fighters and they never give up or quit
  3. Tell them that they are hardworking and meticulous.
  4. You are beautiful just the way you are.
  5. You have a special purpose to fulfil.
  6. Great things await them
  7. You are proud of them.
  8. They are very talented.
  9. They are blessed and very lucky.
  10. I believe you can do it.
  11. You are responsible person so I am giving this to you…
  12. I love the effort you put into everything you do.
  13. You are a very honest person.
  14. You are an intelligent kid you can solve it.
  15. A very loving and kind hearted kid you are.

Note: Remember when you are telling the above things. Be specific to the point you are trying to make. So that children don’t feel entitled without deserving. E.g. I am proud of you for <specifics>. I believe you can do this because <specific character or example>…

15 Things we should not to say to your kid

  1. A direct attack: Attacking the person than the action. It goes the same with branding or name calling. “You are a bad boy/ girl”. “You are evil, you are bad person” etc…
  2. Batter system: Don’t try and trade one thing to other. That way you are subconsciously telling your kid one thing is good and other is bad. E.g. “Eat your vegetable you will get ice cream”, “if you finish homework you will get to game time”.
  3. Comparison: Comparisons like why can’t you do what they are doing? Look at your younger brother and learn from him?
  4. Shut them off: Be careful that you don’t break lines of communication with your kid. “Get lost”, “I don’t want to talk to you now”. “Don’t talk to me”.
  5. Biasness: Don’t use gender as a bias to make a statement. “You are a girl you can’t do it”, “Don’t cry you are a boy”.
  6. Over compensating: You jump at ever instance to help and prevent you child from facing a challenge. “Don’t do it you are a kid let me do it for you”, “Don’t try, you can’t do it, you are small”.
  7. Scar tactics: Things that will evoke fear in your child. “If you don’t eat boogie man will get you”. “I will call the police to arrest you, be quite”.
  8. Harsh Reply: Don’t give a harsh shutting off answer to your kid. Without even giving them time to even hear what they have to say. “No not now”, “Go away don’t disturb”.
  9. Pull in age: Preventing your kid to do something by evoking their age limitations. “Act your age, you are not a kid anymore”, “Don’t talk like you are a big kid”. “Be your age. Mind your business”.
  10. Guilt your kid: Things that can leave you child feeling guilty. “Because of you I fought with dad”, “I don’t have anyone if you are not there”. “I can’t afford a car because I have to spend on your school”.
  11. Hold a grudge: Don’t say statements that make your kid feel that you are unforgiving. “I will never forgive you”, “I will always remember this”, “Last time you did like this”.
  12. Dictatorship: Giving instructions with our explaining or hearing them out. Or blindly expecting them to follow it will make them shut their creativity and become “yes boss” types. “Do it NOW”, “Because I told you So”.
  13. Contempt: Statement that directly convey contempt are very hurtful and damaging to your kid. It will shatter the core of their being. “You disgust me”, “You make me sick”, “I am revolted by you”.
  14. Trust issues: Use of statements that can indirectly tell you child that you don’t trust them. “What’s wrong with you <screamed in anger>”, “I can’t trust you to do anything right”, “Last time you said you will do it and did not, can I trust you now?”. “I have doubt if you will do it well”.
  15. Character assassination: Statements that actually twist and pick on the child nature or character. “You are a softie”, “You are too kind”, “Too sensitive you are”.

You might be interested in reading the article How-To SPOT & DEAL with Teenage Anxiety Issues and How-To HELP & EASE stress in your teenager

10 Things to remember when you discipline your child

When we try to discipline a child is when most of the time things go astray. Discipline need not always be negative or punishments. Your child might readily accept or resist.

Coupled with an action that has caused a havoc can easily unnerve you as a parent. Hence especially these times you need to be intentionally aware to choose right words to talk to your child. Both your words and actions will make an impact. So, be careful that we don’t unintendingly leave a scar on our little one.

  1. Always have a script. It will help you regulate your emotion. And help you structure your thoughts.
  2. Use the right tone when addressing the issues and exercise patience.
  3. Highlight the action and not the person
  4. Have consequence stated in advance.
  5. Follow though with the consequence stated.
  6. Be consistent in your disciplining methods.
  7. Be participative and not be dictatorship. That way you have the kids buy-in.
  8. Hear their point of view and their explanation completely before you come to a conclusion.
  9. When they show responses that you are looking for. Give them a compliment.
  10. Help them problem solve it. Work with them and help them but let them overcome it on their own.

For more details and insights read our articles How-To effectively discipline your teenager and How-to stop teen from breaking rules

Conclusion

Take a pause and list down you believe about yourself and match them to the believes your parents had or said to you. You will find a match.

Our kids are no different. Especially when they are young the main interaction, they have is with you. And also, the most hurtful things they hear are when it comes from their parents.

And the biggest one is when they find that their parents are lying to them. Where we intentionally don’t choose right words to talk to your child and land up telling our kids hurtful things so that we can shock them into course correct. Or a way for us to vent our anger and frustration out.

Whatever be the reason. The tongue had the power of life and death. And when we use it wisely, we breathe life into our children and their generations. Else we are spiting out fire that can cause harm and burn to our little one.

Your words are your child reality. Choose wisely.

God Bless!!

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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1 Response

  1. Marylin Flenniken says:

    i like this well article

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