Grow: Use your words – the right ones!
Never has a childhood rhyme been more untrue than the
following playground chant:
version of this rhyme:
People who are around children realize pretty quickly that
little ones do not come with a filter.
They will pretty much say whatever comes into their heads, which
occasionally causes their parents to want to quickly dig a hole and crawl into
it (think “Mommy, is that man pregnant?
and “Why does that lady have a beard?”). But while these kinds of questions are
embarrassing, they don’t frustrate me like it does when my kids are just plain
saying unkind things to each other. I
was doing the broken record routine, reprimanding over and over, “Stop
saying that. Don’t talk to each other
that way.” Then one afternoon I
decided to try to address the problem in a more focused way, and while it
wasn’t a magic cure, it’s been something I can refer back to and the boys
usually respond well.
knife. The soft and fuzzy object was a
cotton ball. One at a time, I asked the
boys to describe the objects, and give examples of other things that had
a similar feeling. Then I asked,
“Which thing would you rather have me rub on your face?” Obviously they both chose the cotton ball,
and when I asked why they responded that if I rubbed the knife on their face it
would hurt and might leave a scratch, while the cotton ball would be nice and
others up” as “encouraging others”, since that was a little
easier for the kids to understand. We
discussed that words have an effect on people, and when unwholesome talk is
coming out of your mouth; it’s like rubbing a hard scratchy knife on the person
you’re talking to. But when our words
are spoken to encourage others, it’s more like rubbing the other person with a
nice soft cotton ball. (Of course I
realize this metaphor breaks down at some point, nor are we talking about
telling someone “hard truths”.
My kids were 3 and 5 when we had this little talk so I was keeping it
all the ills of childhood. But now,
instead of responding to the unkind words I hear like a broken record, I can
point the boys straight back to God’s word.
“When you call your brother a stinky rotten stupid poopy-head that
is unwholesome talk. Your words are hard
and scratchy. You need to think of some soft and
kind words to say because the Bible says that we should encourage others”.
test as well!