I was reflecting recently on this crazy job called “parenting” that my husband and I have been given, and as our girls grow I have decided that one of my favorite things to do is to speak life into them. I definitely don’t get this whole “parenting thing” right all the time, and I will be the first to admit that. But, I do know how powerful our words can be.
Words have the incredible ability to build up, or tear down. Your words are a powerful tool that you have, at your disposal, in any given moment. When it comes to our words, we must “choose wisely”. (Cue the music from the famous scene about the Holy Grail, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.)
I love using words to build up my children and speak life over them. Some “statements” are easy to say and come out of my mouth very freely. Here are my top three statements I speak over them, almost daily.
Do they occasionally roll their eyes and say, “Yea, mom. I know. I know.” Of course. But, more often they listen. I know that somewhere it’s sinking into their hearts and their heads. And when difficult times come, or lies from the enemy try to penetrate their thoughts, I know that I have done my best to build a strong foundation of truth in their hearts.
As I mentioned earlier, some statements are easy to say, but there are others that take a little more effort. These are the words that you use to break down barriers, or change behaviors. These can be tough.
One of my challenges, being a mother of young daughters, is dinnertime. I have one daughter that tends to be a “picky eater”, and one that is only slightly adventurous when it comes to trying new cuisine. I refuse to be a short-order cook, so usually, what’s for dinner is what’s for dinner. Unfortunately, this isn’t always received with open arms and eager forks, so oftentimes a small battle ensues.
When we sit down to the table, and I see their deflated faces and hear their grumbles over the veggie laden casserole I just spent all afternoon slaving over, my blood begins to boil. The devil on my shoulder wants to scream, “Stop being a picky eater”! But, guess what? If you tell your child they are a picky eater, then they will probably be a picky eater! They will believe what you say, and you begin to unintentionally reinforce their behavior. Those words become seeded in their heart, and they become what you say they are.
So instead of using negative words to reinforce unwanted behaviors, I started using positive words like, “You’re a LEARNING EATER.” Then we explain what a learning eater is, and how learning eaters try everything and learn to eventually like new foods.
Learning eaters have fun experimenting with ingredients and trying things NOT on the children’s menu at restaurants. And sure enough, the girls are becoming more adventurous and starting to believe that they are truly “learning eaters.”
This works for so many other instances too. If you tell your child they are impossible, naughty, driving you crazy, (fill in the blank), then that is quite possibly what they will begin to believe, and live up to. During these times it is that much more important to speak the positive behavior over them.
When siblings are arguing and stealing each other’s toys, (I’ve NEVER experienced this. Only read about it. Kidding.) remind them that they are KIND, THOUGHTFUL, FORGIVING, and great at SHARING. Begin each statement with, “You.” “Suzie, you are such a great sister. You are loving, kind, and so good at sharing your dolls with Katie.” Even if you feel that what you’re saying is so far from reality, keep saying it! Eventually, your child will believe you, and those words will become a part of their identity.
My youngest daughter struggled early on with learning to read. My oldest picked it up incredibly fast, and honestly, I was a little nervous about whether or not my youngest was going to be a successful reader. She knew she was struggling, and would fight me when I tried to work with her. I could tell she didn’t want to fail. She was also comparing herself to her sister’s success, and was seeing the lack of her own successes.
I began telling her, “Katherine, you are a READER.” I repeated this phrase over and over, even when her reply was, “No, I’m not.” When talking with friends or family members I would let her hear me say, “Katherine is a reader.” And slowly, she started to warm up to the idea of spending a little more time breaking down words with me.
Over a period of a few months, she had a breakthrough. One night I was reading a small chapter book to her before bed, and I stopped. I looked at her, and said, “Katherine, you can read this book.” She gingerly took it out of my hands and began to read. Doggone it, she did it!
She began to read that book with a fluency that I had never heard before. I had to help her with a few harder words, but the look of sheer surprise and delight on her face was priceless. She jumped down, book in hand, and ran to her bedroom. Needless to say, she has been devouring books ever since, and is officially the family bookworm.
The power of words.
Be careful how you choose your words, and SPEAK LIFE into those sweet little souls. When you do, be ready to watch them bloom.