How to Talk to Build Your Child’s Spirit

Photography: Loren Stow

The words we choose to use when communicating with our loved ones have a profound impact on them and the atmosphere in your home. But sometimes it is difficult to know the ‘best’ way to phrase something, or how to give constructive criticism without hurting those we love.

When it comes to our children, so much of our communication is in the form of giving instructions or direction, and this can be tricky, because we want to build our little ones up, instead of having them feel as though their efforts are not good enough.

We also want to teach our children how to communicate in a caring and respectful way – and they are going to learn this from the way in which we talk to them day in and day out.

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to remember the following tips to encourage loving communication.

In general communication with your child, remember the following two points:

1. Validate your child’s emotions – “I understand you are frustrated. but we don’t hit other children,” rather than “Why did you hit Johnny?” or “I know that your head must hurt after falling,” rather than “You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t cry.”

2. Avoid making negative statements – “Can I help you get that?”, rather than “You’re too small to reach that”. It is unnecessary to mention anything to your child that is not encouraging.

When correcting your child, remember the following three points:

 1. Make statements instead of giving instructions – “We eat with our spoons”, rather than “I want you to use your spoon” or “we don’t hit others”, rather than “don’t hit others”. This kind of instruction is a neutral statement of the ‘how things are done in the world’ and not a judgement or demand.

2. Give reasons for your rules, rather than demand unquestioned obedience – “Share your toys with your brother because he’d like to play too,” rather than “Share your toys,” or “we don’t hit the dog because it hurts him,” rather than “Don’t hit the dog.”

3. Explain what to do instead of what not to do – “Lets tidy your toys,” rather than “Stop making a mess” or “Let’s touch the cat softly (demonstrate),” rather than “Stop hitting the cat.”

When giving your child directions or instructions, remember the following two points:

1. Be specific and share the details – “Finish all your food please,” rather than “I want you to eat dinner nicely” or “I love the colours you used in your picture,” rather than “Pretty picture.”

2. Demonstrate what you’re trying to say – “We hold our cup with both hands (demonstrate) so that we don’t spill”, rather than “Hold your cup nicely.”

When we communicate in a way that doesn’t judge or make demands, we are teaching our children a more loving and more peaceful way to be in the world. All the tips may seem too much to remember, so try applying one a week and slowly work your way through all of them – pretty soon it will become second nature!

These tips, if applied, can make a real difference to the atmosphere and energy in your home and family – building your child’s spirit along the way.

Words: Loren Stow

when we know better… we do better

*Practica Parents: Since you are spending so much valuable time with your children with all the Practica Activities that you have available – it is especially important to give attention to the way in which you communicate with your child when you give instructions and feedback. The key is to build your child’s self esteem.

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One thought on “How to Talk to Build Your Child’s Spirit

  1. Anonymous says:

    There are few greater priviledges than to shape and build your childs spirit. Thank you for your article – after a tough day at work it is sometimes difficult to remeber to reinforce your childs behaviour in a positive way. Let us also remember to apply this to our spouses! The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL, AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW.

    Let us also teach and show our children this Spirit!

    Daddy Lang Legs :>

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