“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.” – Haim Ginott
Children rely on us to interpret the world: “That’s HOT, Don’t touch!… Now we wash our hands … We can walk now that the light is green … We always … We never … This is how we do it … The sky is blue …”
So what happens when they hear: “You’d lose your head if it wasn’t glued on … That was a dumb thing to do … You drive me crazy … Why can’t you … You never … You always…”
Or overhear: “You won’t believe the day I’ve had with that kid … He’s so irresponsible… She never does her chores without me hounding her … He can’t control himself … She has such a temper….”
They believe it.
Even if they don’t show it, even if they act like they don’t care, on some level our children believe everything we say about them.
This could demoralize every parent at times, because we’ve all said things that we later wish we hadn’t. But instead, let’s use it to our advantage, and to our children’s advantage. Why not leverage our children’s trust in what we say to empower them to become their best selves?
Our words don’t have to be perfect. But what we believe will eventually come out of our mouths. So what if we practiced these four habits?
1. Empower your child by seeing her best self.
Research shows that kids’ beliefs determine their behavior. When you observe something positive about your child, tell her what you see.
- “I saw you got frustrated with your brother, but you were able to stop yourself from yelling.”
- “Wow, you read that whole book yourself!”…
- “I’ve noticed that you’re remembering to brush your teeth now without being reminded most of the time.”
- “You did your chore with only one reminder! Thank you!”
- “You’re working so hard on that homework.”
Notice that these are specific observations about what your child