Have you ever found yourself repeating insulting, belittling, or nonsensical things that were said to you as a child? What about walking away from a frustrating situation with your kids and shaking your head as you realize that you might just be your mother after all? This happens to me about once a week, and there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like a hypocrite.
I’ve spent the last few weeks on a mission to remove nonsensical and unfair reprimands from my lexicon, but it’s been hard. I’ve finally identified, and replaced, three of my worst “offenders”, and I can definitely see the difference in Little B’s attitude and behavior as well as my own. Is it time to mix up your family slogan arsenal? If so, take a look at the three we’ve been working on, and let me know what you’re working on too!
1. “Because I said so.”
Try this instead:
“I know you may not fully understand, but it’s important that you do/do not _____ because ____.”
Give your child the full, logical explanation for why you’re requesting that they do (or do not do) this specific act. Is it because it’s unsafe? Does it make you personally uncomfortable? Does it violate the belief system your family upholds in your home? Explain that and open up a dialogue on an issue; creating understanding now eliminates the “why?” in the future.
Many parents believe that allowing children to question their decisions is allowing disrespect. However, we have to keep in mind that we’re not raising our children to be children in eighteen years. We’re raising them to be adults, and asking questions + seeking to understand is a basic foundation of logical, independent thought.
2. “Shh… The adults are talking..”
Try this instead:
“Please don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking. You’ll have a chance to give us your opinion, but it’s rude to treat someone else like their voice is not as important as yours.”
By plainly stating that adult communication (and thought) have higher credibility and priority than that of your child, you’re not only making them feel excluded but also undermined and unimportant. This can leave lasting effects on their self confidence and the way they think about their own opinions and beliefs down the road.
Instead, explain that their voice and opinion is valuable to you, but that they need to find an appropriate time to interject or politely interrupt. This will not only teach them that their voice counts for something but will also reinforce the concept that every voice is important. A lesson in self confidence and respect? Don’t mind if I do.
3. “My house, my rules.”
Try this instead:
Absolutely anything else. Seriously, I’m begging you.
Personally, I go with “This is everybody’s house, not just yours, and we all deserve to feel safe, comfortable, and respected in our house, don’t we?”
A huge part of developing an open line of communication with your children is trust. And despite the fact that you pay the bills, the family home is the only home that your children have ever known. When you take away the sense of security that comes with the idea of “home” by removing the ownership they have of it, children often find it hard to trust. Focus on building a family home with family rules and foster respect through communication, not authoritarianism.
If you approach it from the angle of mutual respect to all parties involved, they begin to learn that while they are important, they are not always the most important thing in the room.
So far, these little changes have been working absolute wonders in our house. We’re all happier, nobody feels disrespected, and Little B and I have been having an ongoing dialogue about respect.
I’d love to hear about how these changes have impacted your house! Do you do something completely different? How do you go about parenting without disrespecting your child? What other phrases should be added to this list? Let’s talk about it in the comments!