Do you ever feel like you’re speaking a different language when trying to communicate with your kids? It can be tough to get through to them sometimes, but using positive language can make all the difference!
Believe it or not, your words have the power to encourage and motivate your children - and that’s something worth striving for! So, whether you're trying to encourage good behaviour or simply build a strong relationship with your child, these tips will help. Read on!
The power of words - how your language affects your child
Just for a moment, I want you to think about the words and phrases you use each day. How did you say them? What tone was used? How often were they positive words vs corrective or “negative” words? Were they in balance with how you would like your children to speak to themselves? If not, it’s time to make a change in the way you’re speaking to your child and the words you are using.
Our kids look up to us and our approval or disapproval really means something to them (even if they tell us otherwise!). The way in which we communicate with our children really has the power to either build them up or tear them down, and therefore we must be mindful of the language we use every day.
How to use positive language in everyday interactions with your child.
No two kids are the same. I promise you: Most of the time, what works for one child won’t work for another. But you know what does work on almost any child? Positive words! (They work on us stubborn adults, too!) Here are how to start using more positive language with your kids easily each and every day!
Practise positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are tools that children can use to support themselves. These simple positive phrases help kids to develop a healthy sense of self as well as a positive mindset. Affirmations are more than just happy thoughts, affirmations can assist with your child's emotional well-being, anxiety, enhance their self-esteem, confidence and positive self-talk. When a child's level of self-esteem is increased it helps build their resilience to bullying and other negative life situations and events.
Allow yourself time to think and respond
The first step to responding in a more positive way is calming yourself, so as not to respond from a place of heightened emotion. Remaining calm is the key to being more positive around your kids. You are only able to respond calmly when you feel calm, so give yourself a breather. If your child does or says something negative, give yourself a few seconds to think about how you’re going to respond before you do. As a bonus, giving yourself a little time to think also gives your child some time to think too.
Learn some positive alternatives and start using them
No one wants to hear “No” all the time. Positive language helps give kids the “Yes” they desperately are looking for, but in a way that makes sense. Tell a kid no for everything and all you’ll have is a constant power struggle that you’ll always feel like you’re losing. Over time you are going to pick up on positive phrases to use for certain situations, and in a lot of cases what you say is just going to be custom to your child and what they are doing. Here is a look at several great words and phrases you can use instead of their negative alternatives:
Willingly apologize when things go wrong
No one is perfect (duh!), and mistakes are inevitable. And that’s completely okay. It’s what you do after you said something wrong that makes the difference. If you do get worked up and react negatively, just apologise to your child. You’ll be teaching them compassion, empathy, and that even adults make mistakes sometimes. They will respect you a whole lot more for it too!
Use more “First/then” statements
First/then statements are ones that tell your child what will happen (something positive) if something else happens first. For example, your child might ask if they can go out with friends after school. Instead of saying, “No” or “Maybe tomorrow,” try saying this instead: “First, finish your homework. Then, you’re welcome to go to the skate park with your friends.”
Ditch the commands!
Children hear a lot of commands all day, not only is it exhausting for them (and us!) but it’s not how adults would talk to each other. Adults would reason with one another or make a request rather than a command. For example, an adult might ask “Can you please turn your music down, I find it hard to concentrate,” and the person playing the music would realise that their music is bothering them and turn it down.
There is no reason that the same reasoning can’t be used with our kids. It is a great tool to use as it will teach the child to be reasonable and considerate of others. Of course, when you make a request instead of a command you must be prepared that the answer could be, “No,” and so you have to be willing to live with that.
Providing choices work great instead of commanding or requesting (when you can’t live with the answer “No,”). When providing choices, you can say something like, “It’s time for bed, do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your pyjamas?” Giving your child the choice will empower them as they get the make their own decision, but of course, both options are options you are happy with.
Benefits of using positive language in parenting
Positive two-way communication is essential to building your child’s self-confidence. Children thrive with words of encouragement and praise! While listening to your child boosts their self-esteem and enables them to feel worthy and loved. A child who feels constantly blamed, judged, and criticised may grow up to become an adult with negative self-esteem. The best way to grow and maintain a healthy and happy relationship with our kids is to communicate in a positive and effective manner.
With positive self-esteem comes even more benefits such as; increased confidence, better listening, concentration and decision making skills, willingness to try new things, ability to establish and maintain boundaries, form healthy and secure relationships, and less likely to be critical of self or others just to name a few!
Using positive language will increase the chances of keeping the peace, and will have a wonderful effect on the tone of the day. As your positive language evolves, you will develop more respect and kindness for your child, and in turn them for you. You will see that that is a nicer way to talk to each other, and a better way to get them to both listen and to cooperate too!
Tips for maintaining a positive attitude when things get tough
The best way to maintain positive language when parenting is to try and keep calm yourself! Remember to practise regular self-care and to focus on keeping your cool in the heat of the moment.
If you are always stressed about the mess, or wanting things done quickly, you will find yourself very stressed out as a parent, and stress will eventually turn to frustration and anger. Take it easy on yourself, take a breather and remember this too shall pass.
The next time you feel impatient with your child when they don’t immediately do what you ask, try taking a long, deep breath and just staying quiet. Watch your child as they slowly (but eventually) do what you ask. Rather than being annoyed that it took them so long be proud of them for their ability to (eventually) follow instructions.
Be proud of them for their independence and remember that they are still growing up. If you can relax it will be so much easier to use positive language and you will become a much happier parent and it will improve your relationship with your child.