As a parent coach I find that a big part of my work with parents is guiding them in choosing words which reflect their thoughts and planning how to say them in order to have a resourceful state of mind as a parent as well as effective communication with other family members.
I would like to share some of the points I make to parents when I stress the importance of words.
Language is the way we experience reality. For example the dominant word for moon in French is “La Lune” which is in feminine, in Hebrew on the other hand the dominant word is “Yareach” which is in masculine. Imagine the difference in how the moon is seen by those two different cultures.
Saying the right words will tremendously influence our state of mind, our relationship with other people and so on.
Here is some food for thought regarding our use of words as parents: Make sure that you state your wishes or needs in the positive:
- When you state your wish in the negative, your brain does not have a desired outcome/target to focus. As such it focuses on the negative one. For instance when you think I don’t want to yell at my children anymore – your brain target is yelling and since it doesn’t have any alternative you are more likely to continue yelling. On the other hand, if you have told yourself I would like to talk softly and calmly with my kids the brain will focus on that and the result will be different.
- Be aware of labeling: When you label your child you are unconsciously setting expectations that she will fulfill. When you say: “My child is so whiny”, guess what? That is what you are going to get: a whiny child, only because whatever we put our attention on we get more of. I invite you to refrain from negative labeling and encourage you to use positive words like: “I know my child can be happy, joyful, grateful…” or whatever is the opposite of whiny for you. Refrain from using generalizations since it lead to generating self-limiting beliefs.
- When you say to your child: “You never do your homework” it might cause her to believe that she is lazy, or stupid. It is better to be specific and say: “I have noticed in the last few days that you haven’t done your homework…” When you ask your child for something be as specific as you can.
- Giving a general request like: “Clean your room” can lead to different results from what you have expected. Think about each word as a suitcase. Each of attaches different meanings to each word and so the inside of the same labeled suitcase in this case using the same word may be surprisingly different. In the above example, a clean room for the mother is likely an entirely different concept then a clean room for her child, or teenager. Being specific and using many words to make sure your child has a clear picture of what is expected from her and will save you frustration and disappointment. Refrain from swearing or using bad words in front of your child.
You want to teach her to respect the language and to understand the power of the words.
Using these tools will improve communication with your child and will make it more effective.
Photo credit: NASA