My mom sent me the below list of “things we tell our kids” in an email this morning. First, it made me laugh. I am as guilty as my mother and father for saying things “in the moment” that aren’t really teaching the best lesson! Occasionally saying inappropriate words (and using inappropriate logic, etc.) with children won’t “ruin” them, and, at a minimum, it will get them to think (e.g., Did my dad really just tell me that if I don’t stop crying, he’ll give me something to cry about?? Let me think about that for a moment!). Second, the list made me feel even more passionate about using words to parent and to get children ready for school. Words are powerful! When used appropriately, they can raise a child to heights unimaginable. Words like “I believe in you” and “You made a good choice” send a child into the world with a greater chance at success than if he had the newest iPad of his own or knows all of his ABC’s and 123’s before the age of 3. But, the flip side is that words can damage a child’s self-esteem, self-motivation, desire to learn, and much more.
Read the following list with a sense of humor. Forgive your own parents or other grown-ups in your life that used inappropriate language just to keep themselves from “losing it” (We all know the feeling of using words with kids to serve our own needs!) or because they didn’t know then what we know now about child development. Change any verbal habits you use with a child that are doing more harm than good, which is obvious because when you use the words you never get the result (i.e., a behavior change) that your are seeking.
1. My Parents taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE ..
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside… I just finished cleaning.”
2. My Parents taught me RELIGION.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
3. My Parents taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”
4. My Parents taught me LOGIC.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”
5. My Parents taught me MORE LOGIC .
“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”
6. My Parents taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”
7. My Parents taught me IRONY.
“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”
8. My Parents taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper”
9. My Parents taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”
10. My Parents taught me about STAMINA.
“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”
11. My Parents taught me about WEATHER.
“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”
12. My Parents taught me about HYPOCRISY.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”
13. My Parents taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”14. My Parents taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
“Stop acting like your father!”
15. My Parents taught me about ENVY.
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”
16. My Parents taught me about ANTICIPATION.
“Just wait until we get home.”
17. My Parents taught me about RECEIVING.
“You are going to get it when you get home!”
18. My Parents taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way.”
19. My Parents taught me ESP.
“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”
20. My Parents taught me HUMOR.
“When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”
21. My Parents taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”
22. My Parents taught me GENETICS.
“You’re just like your father.”
23. My Parents taught me about my ROOTS.
“Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”
24. My Parents taught me WISDOM.
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”
And my favourite:
25. My Parents taught me about JUSTICE.
“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”