Words Are Important

When we talk to our children, how we say things – the particular words we choose to use – may seem like a minor thing. After all, there are lots of ways to make our point, but how we make our point is surprisingly important. Children are quick to read between the lines, hear what they want to hear, or hear only certain words and missing the point altogether.
Here are some tips about how to talk to your children.
Use a clear, straightforward statement.  If you need to give kids directions, don’t ask them – tell them. Don’t say, “Do you want to go shopping?” if the message you are trying to send is, “It’s time to go buy Dad’s birthday present.”
Keep “OK?” out of it. If you need to give kids directions, don’t use “OK?” at the end. “We’re going to the party now, OK?” This turns a statement into a question. Only ask a question like that if you are prepared to accept whatever answer you get. If you ask, “Do you want to go to the party?” you are saying it’s OK if you do and OK if you don’t. Leave the “OK?” off the end of your statement and you have a clear direction.
Say no if you mean no. Don’t say yes when you mean no. It’s OK to say no, when you need to. Matter-of-factly saying no to a request is much better than letting your child think the answer is yes and then not following through. “Can we get ice cream tomorrow?” You say yes. The day gets really busy – which if you thought about it, you already knew it wasn’t going to be a good day for ice cream. You end up letting the ice cream trip slide hoping your child won’t remember. If this happens frequently, what your child hears is, “Don’t count on what Mom says. “

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