Parenting: The Power of Words and Your Child

The words you use with your children can either build them up or destroy their self esteem. It's especially important that you think about the words you use when you discipline your children so you help them to move on and truly learn from their mistakes.
The words you use can influence your child greatly
The words you use can influence your child greatly

by Joy Burgess

In every home, it’s easy to sling around words without thinking. The thing is, words can have long lasting effects, especially on your children. The words you use with your children can either build them up or destroy their self esteem. It’s especially important that you think about the words you use when you discipline your children so you help them to move on and truly learn from their mistakes. While you’ve heard the old saying about sticks and stones, words really can be hurtful, especially to kids. Here is a closer look at the how words affect your children and how you can change the things you say to your children to help empower your child.

Why What You Say is So Important

You may be asking yourself, “why is what I say to my children so important?” Well, there are a variety of reasons that what you say becomes very important to your children. First of all, you are an influence on your children. The things you say are the things they are going to grow up saying. Think about the words and phrases you use each day. Are these really things that you want your kids saying? If not, it’s time for you to change the words your using.

Another reason that what you say to your kids is important is because your kids look up to you. Your approval or disapproval really means something to them. Your words have the ability to easily hurt your children, even if you don’t realize it. Those words that you fling at them in frustration may be words that they remember for the rest of their lives. Do you really want your children remembering the harsh and negative words you used with them for the rest of their lives? If not, it’s time to make a change in the way you’re speaking to your child and the words you are using.

Using the Right Words When Disciplining Your Child

Often it’s when you discipline your children where some of the wrong words slip out. Sure, proper discipline is important to your child’s behavior, and it’s also important to their self esteem as well. A child that is allowed to get away with anything does not feel loved. Your children do need boundaries and they need to be corrected when they do something that is not acceptable. It’s just HOW you do it that is so important.

When you do discipline your child, you need to communicate to them with your words that you are not upset with them, but that you do not like what they did. Instead of labeling your child as “bad,” you can instead talk to them about the behavior and how it is inappropriate. Don’t tell your child that they are a bad child for their actions, but do let them know that what they did is not acceptable. It’s also important that you let them know how much you love them when you discipline them.

Use positive words when you discipline your child as well. Instead of using words that make them feel like a failure, use words that let them know you know that they can do better. Instead of saying “you know you shouldn’t torment your little sister,” say something like “I know you can treat your sister better because usually you get along great.” This way you let them know that what they did was wrong, but you also give them the idea that they can do better, which is a positive message to give to your children.

Praising Your Child with Positive Words

Another thing to consider when it comes to the words we use with our children is the words you use when praising your child. Praise is just as important as discipline is for your child. Praise is a great way that you can help to build up the self esteem of your child. However, you don’t want to praise your child in a way that makes them dependent on you and your praise for their self esteem.

Avoid praising your child with evaluations. When you praise your child by evaluating what they are doing, you can easily make them dependent upon having your approval. You need to praise your children in ways that helps them to see their own strengths. Instead of evaluating what they do, give praise that is descriptive, describing the great thing that they have done. Instead of saying “that is a beautiful picture you colored,” which can make them feel embarrassed and may even make them deny the praise, you can say, “Wow, you colored that picture, stayed in the lines, and used a lot of beautiful colors.” More than likely this will bring your child to the realization that they did a good job and your child will end up praising himself.

Positive Words and Phrases that Will Empower Your Child

All through your child’s life, it is important that you use positive words and phrases that are going to build up and empower your child. Wondering which words you should start saying to your children to help build them up? Here is a look at several great words and phrases you can use instead of their negative counter parts.

–          Instead of saying “You should” say “You can”

–          Instead of saying “try” say “do your best”

–          Instead of saying “do not forget” say “please remember”

–          Instead of saying “I’m no good” say “I can do better”

–          Instead of saying “you’re irritable” say “you’re sensitive”

–          Instead of saying “you’re being selfish” say “you can share more”

–          Instead of saying you are naughty” say “You can behave in a better way”

Joy Burgess is 28 year old wife and step mom, currently living in Arizona. Her family includes her husband, step son, step daughter, and dog, Chewy. Along with being a full time step mom, Joy also works full time as a writer and musician. Hobbies and interests include scrapbooking, gardening, playing the piano, cooking, and finding a few spare moments of quiet time alone.

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