The other day, I was at the store and I was thrown off by a little girl, maybe five years old, yelling at her mother.
“I need that toy, NOW! We need to go, Mom. This place is boring!”
Now, I try not to judge because I’m sure I’ll be in a situation when one of my kid acts like a little brat. But I wanted to strangle this little girl! Her high-pitched scream and hitting her mom was ridiculous.
And so I got thinking about the little girl and about a lot of children now. Many feel entitled to anything and everything. And so I’ve come up with a few things our kids need to hear us say, because we are the best examples after all. Some of them are a no-brainer but you’d be surprised if you listen for them, you won’t hear them as often as you should.
No-brainer #1. How often do we say please? Are we demanding things or are we being polite? Please is a word that can make a tense situation easier to manage. It can soften someone’s stance in a conversation.
There are days when I wonder if constantly reminding C to say “Please” is even worth it. But there are times when he says it without my prodding (usually when he wants extra candy or snacks) and it makes me want to pile his little arms full of the stuff.
In the past few days, I’ve noticed how often I forget to say the “magic word” and it’s usually when at least two babies are crying at the same time and I need his help. It comes out more of a shout/demand/quick negotiation and then I feel bad. Something to work on. Always something to work on.
Saying please is so simple. And yet, it’s something we forget all the time. We need to look for the times we haven’t said it and work on it.
A sincere thank you can move mountains. Okay, probably not literally but it can inspire someone to keep doing the service they
We love to hear thank you from other people, especially when we’ve done some sort of service or given them something. How do we feel after? Hopefully, happy and ready to help out in another way.
After saying thank you a few times when C helps me clean up his toys, he is more apt to do it himself later on. The other day, as I was feeding babies, he picked up the things he was playing with and said, “We got to clean this up, Mom.”
Of course, my insides are ready to burst and the water clouds my vision. I say, “Thank you!” and then he gets a little bashful, or a big grin covers his face and he lights up.
If you’ve ever had a friend or been in a relationship with someone who never takes credit for their faults or the problems they’ve caused, you know that it can be frustrating. Part of you wants to continue on, angry/annoyed/indifferent to the situation while the other wants to end the problem.
There is nothing wrong with being wrong. Sounds funny but it’s true. We all make mistakes and by admitting that, we are teaching our children that it’s not the worst thing in the world. Saying you’re sorry and talking about why you messed up gives your children a better picture of how to act and what to do when they make a mistake, rather than just pretending it never happened.
Our society makes failing and being imperfect seem like the worst things that could happen to us. But in reality no one is successful 100% of the time and no one is perfect. Show your kids how to respond to these shortcomings with your own example.
Although this seems similar to saying we’re sorry, asking for forgiveness might not always be about just feeling bad about what you’ve done. It’s about making amends and changing, as much as we can, anyway. We work to make things right with our actions after we have asked to be forgiven.
It’s a deeper, “I’m sorry” because instead of the words becoming hollow, you are committing to adjustments and changes to repair your actions from before. Kids need to hear that and have the opportunity to forgive so that when something more serious comes their way, they know how to react to it.
These two words go unsaid even more than some of the others above. They may seem unnecessary but it’s a sign that you’ve heard the thank you and that you appreciate it.
By saying you’re welcome, we recognize the person we did something for or gave something to and are willing to do it again. I had to look it up but we got it from the phrases, “you are welcome to my help” and “it was a pleasure to help you”.
When we look at it like that, it gives the person we say it to the feeling that we’ll be there to help at another time in the future. If we instill that sentiment into our kids, hopefully they will recognize us as a place to come to talk for answers or just advice when they have a problem.
I love you
This final one is probably another no-brainer for you, but how often do we use it? Each family has to determine how they use it and how much. You may come from a family that says it all the time or you might be opposite, where it was hardly ever said in your home.
The biggest key with saying I love you is to sincerely mean it and make sure to say it at least every once in a while. There are kids that go their whole childhood never hearing those three words and all they’ve done is try to do their best to live up to them.
Sometimes, though, an act of love speaks more clearly than just saying the words. Serve and work with your family on things without being ornery and holding a grudge about it can have a huge impact. Working on a science project the night before it’s due because your child forgot or helping them through some of the harder points of life. Giving hugs or sending a note to your kids are some ideas to help you convey your love for them.
So, which words do you use frequently with your kids? Which have I missed in this post?
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