Raising little ones is so rewarding! But it can also be very exhausting. As parents, it seems like we repeat the same things over, and over and over again...
"Get dressed for school"
"stop picking your nose"
"eat your eggs"
"don't take that toy from your brother!"
"pick up your room"
Children test boundaries, push their limits and learn what they can and cannot get away with. It may be completely normal, but that doesn't mean it's not frustrating to us as parents. The thing is, repeating things over and over, and constantly having to remind your kids of the simplest things - tasks they are responsible for doing on a daily basis is how parenting works. We are training these kids how to become contributing, responsible members of society. It's hard and it's not pretty sometimes, but it's our jobs. If we don't do it, we risk those little buggers growing up to be adults that don't know how to how to clean up after themselves, or chew with their mouths closed, proper dental hygiene or that if you don't get up early enough, you're not going to make it to work on time.
It's so easy to get caught up in correcting their wacky table manners or the things they are NOT doing. It’s exhausting to us parents and not much fun spending all of your time together pointing these things out.
What if we could change our perspective and strive to use positive phrases when we can, instead of negative? Obviously this will not be practical for all situations, but it could work for some.
“What do you need to remember?"
Instead of telling them right off the bat what to do or not to do, challenge them to use their critical thinking skills to recognize what they’re doing wrong or what they should pay special attention to.
“Would you like to do it on your own or have me help you?"
This is another great way to get them to think critically, and remind them that we believe they’re capable, but we’re here if they need our help
“What did you learn from this mistake?"
This phrase will help them recognize that mistakes happen, but we can always learn from them and that making better choices can often prevent mistakes in the future.
“I need you to _____________."
This phrase can be used in place of “Please stop doing….” or “Don’t do that!”
“I believe in you and am here to support you."
I can see how tough this may be for you, but I believe in you and I am here to support you
"I can see you're upset, what are you feeling?"
Sometimes a child may be upset about something but have a hard time expressing it OR have difficulty knowing why they feel a certain way. If we can help them express why they’re upset, we can open the lines of communication and allow them to feel like their needs matter and that we do empathize. It’s incredibly hard to have feelings and opinions on things but have very little control over your life.
Wisdom & Respect
It’s important that we remember that even though young children are still learning, they are very wise and their opinions do matter. You’d be surprised at how responsive and positive a child’s attitude is when they feel like they have choices, and are given the opportunity to make their own decisions.
Respect should go both ways. If a child is in the middle of playing with something, but it is time to go, give them a couple of warnings as a heads up that their play time will soon be over. Parents don’t appreciate being rudely interrupted when we’re deep into something and the same consideration should be given to children. After all, play is serious business!
Here are the phrases from the beginning of this post that I'm sure you use every single day, with some suggestions on how to peacefully and positively address them:
"Stop playing and get dressed for school!"
Instead try: “Take a break from what you’re doing - it’s time to start thinking about what you need to do to get ready for school. We can’t be late!”
"stop picking your nose, gross!"
Instead try: “It’s not polite to pick your nose - grab a tissue or do what you need to do in private and then wash your hands”
"eat your breakfast!"
Instead try: “You have a big day of learning and fun ahead of you. Be sure to eat a full breakfast today so you have the energy to get through the day. You’re constantly growing, so its important to fill your body with healthy food in the morning to help you to accomplish your goals”
"don't take that toy from your brother!"
Instead try: “Please don’t take things away from your brother. How do you feel when someone takes something away from you? Let’s work on treating others the way we want to be treated! You could instead ask him if he would like to share with you, or even play together.”
"pick up your room or else I'm tossing out your toys!"
“It is important that we keep our house and our space tidy and organized. We should also take care of our things. If you don’t work on putting things back where they belong, you may not be able to find them the next time you need them”
Many frustrating moments as a parent make great teachable opportunities. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of modern parenting as we rush to get to the next activity. But very often taking a deep breath and talking through the conflict instead of yelling will go a lot further, rather than quickly reacting with no explanation on the consequences or reasoning as to WHY they need to do something.