Positive Talking vs. Negative Talking

Sometimes children are not simply being disobedient, sometimes they are out of control because they are hungry or very tired.  My son gets “mean” when he’s really tired.  He’ll say mean things or anger easily.  Rather than yell because he’s being “bad” I’ll acknowledge that he’s tired and let him know that it’s inappropriate for him to act this way because of it.  Then make sure he gets some rest!  Hunger and irritability, I really relate to so it helps to give kids a mini snack while you’re fixing dinner if they are showing signs of acting up.

One trick I use to get down to their level is to imagine myself being yelled at for doing something like forgetting something after I tried yelling and threatening to take away privileges.  I found what really worked was when I said “you need to remember this.  It’s my job to teach you how.  How can I help you remember?  Let’s think of some things that might work.”  This way we worked together to come up with a viable solution to a nuisance problem.

We worked in the positive as well as changing the threat.  “If you don’t remember,” to “Let’s find a way that works for you.”  At 7, my son lacks the skills to do that for himself.  I believe it is my job as a parent to guide him in learning.  Back to remembering-  How many of us forget names?  How would you feel if someone yelled at you, said you were bad, called you dumb or took away your privileges when that happened?  I once said to someone I saw on a regular basis “I can never seem to remember your name”  and she replied “Angela, you are so good at remembering that my name is Sharon.”  It works and I’ve remembered ever since.

Teaching and repeating in the positive, not negative.  As in “Dont’ touch the TV”  could be “keep your hands off.”  This takes work to some of you there may not see to be a difference, but my feeling is that we need to think in the positivity and teach our children to do so.

What about teaching children to do things not because we’ll go to hell, but because it is the right thing to do?  It is more productive to be kind to each other than nasty.

I believe that children are intrinsically good.  They sometimes do bad things.  That however doesn’t make them a bad boy or girl.  In the dictionary under bad it says “no good in any manner or degree; evil wicked immoral; defective, worthless.”  Is this what we believe our children are when they spill milk or bite someone?  “Bad”describes the action not the person.

Encourage your children to be themselves and give them room to grow.  My oldest daughter is a natural performer.  Give her an audience and she’ll dance and sing.  And I encourage her with my applause and smiles.  At times it’s not appropriate so rather than say ” these people don’t want to see you.”  I’ll say this isn’t the place.”

I hear a lot of labeling.  Such as “Billy is a worrier,” “She never leaves my side,” “Susie is so shy.”  You know we know how ac-cute children’s hearing can be.  So isn’t it reasonable to assume they hear this info and process it and accept it as truth because mommy or daddy said so.  It is limiting to me at 31 to have someone say “Angela you are so….” Maybe I am some of the time but that is not me, it’s not who I am.  It describes me some of the time.  Likewise, Susie maybe shy now but that is not who she is.  “She enjoys being with mommy a lot but when she’s ready she’ll come and play”  gives her an opening for changing.  We sometimes work our whole adult like braking labels like “I’m dumb.”

Angela DiCicco written in 1989

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