Have you ever thought about your words and the power they have? Words have the power to build someone up or tear someone down. They can be loving and sweet or they can be harsh. The words you say to someone could make their day or break it.
The power of words has recently come up in our house. Since having children, (especially toddlers that are learning to talk, use language, and relate to other human beings) my husband and I have tried to use kind words in our home and around our children. I have never sworn very much, so that part was pretty easy for me, but just words like “hate, dumb, stupid, crap” slip. I think to us, as adults, those words aren’t a big deal, but we’ve tried to not use those words because we don’t want our toddlers repeating them. Occasionally though, when frustrated or not thinking, I’ve said, “What a dumb….” or “I hate how that looks…” in front of my 3 ½ year old twins.
Whether we think they are listening or not, they definitely are. Just recently, they have started using words in ways that I don’t like. I’ve heard one say, “I hate you” to her twin sister on multiple occasions and just tonight, the other sang, “Twinkle, twinkle, you are dumb”. I mean seriously, where does that come from? It’s hard to hear. In my opinion, the phrase “I hate you” is ugly coming out of anyone’s mouth, but especially my toddler’s.
All of this got me to thinking: why does it bother us (adults) so much when we hear our kids saying these things? I believe it bothers us because we want our children to grow up to be kind, caring adults. We want them to learn to use their words to help and not hurt people. We want them to be productive citizens that respect others. We want them to be able to express themselves, but at the same time to choose their words wisely.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that if it sounds bad coming out of my toddler’s mouth, then it probably sounds bad coming out of my mouth whether I’m around my children or not. When we talk, people listen. Words are powerful. They can be both a gift and a weapon. How we choose to use them is up to us. Wouldn’t it be easier to redirect or have a dialogue with our children about words if we were a good example?
Disclaimer: I’m definitely not the best mom or most experienced parent, and have struggled with how to discipline or teach my girls to not use these words. I can control my own language and behavior and I’ve tried different things with them, but I would love to know how you have worked with your children when they’ve used language you don’t like.