Friday, September 23, 2011

Messages We Send to Kids

Months ago I tweeted about the words we say to children. Often we're innocent to the discouraging messages behind the words and - over time - those messages have a collective, disheartening effect on kids.

Consider these common (I've said 'em, too!) statements:

"Be Careful!" could send the message, "The world is a scary place."

"Shame on you!" could send the message, "Discourage yourself."

"Be nice" may be heard as, "You're not usually nice."

"Stop being so sensitive" can mean, "Don't express your emotions" or "Don't feel."

Here are positive - or encouraging - words that mean the same but send a different message:

Rather than "Be Careful!" say, "Take care of yourself."

Instead of, "Shame on you!" say, "I've made bad choices too."

Replace, "Be nice" with "Make sure your friends win too."

For "Stop being so sensitive" say, "I like that you're listening to your feelings."

None of these condone inappropriate behavior. But they do make your guidance more of a teaching tool.

In daily discipline -- reframe your words to send encouraging messages. You aren't diluting your authority or discipline, you're doing it with a powerful, positive alternative.

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