If we really stopped and thought about what we say, before we say it, would we change what we have said? Sadly, most of do not think before we speak. We speak unconsciously, without due thought and a lot of the time, our responses are automatic.
To speak consciously requires us to be present in the moment. It takes work and consistent effort to stop what we would automatically say. We learn these automatic responses and conditioning from our parents and so the pattern continues.
How many times do you say the word ‘no’ to your children? Is it all the time or just sometimes? If so, is the ‘no’ warranted? Sometimes it is BUT is it ever a ‘no’ of convenience? In the moment it’s just easier to say ‘no’ and leave it at that.
My son who will be nine in May asked my husband and I for a front door key today to our family home. Mind you, it’s not the first time he has asked us for a front door key but for some reason, it has re-surfaced again. When he asked me this time, I didn’t give him an automatic ‘no’ response. I know that he wants this key really badly and he has said, ‘You can trust me, Mum.’ What’s difficult is that he wants an answer straight away and keeps pestering me for an answer. He then starts hounding my husband for an answer and the response he got from him was automatically, ‘no, you’re not having a front door key. You don’t need one.’
We can only be responsible for our responses no one else’s – so my husband in this instance has told our son, ‘no.’
The story continues. Our son then returns to me and says, ‘Dad says, “No” I am not having a key.’ I am a firm believer that parents should be united and on the same page with regards to parenting so I stand by my husband’s decision and I agree that it’s the right decision for now. I do however want our son to understand why he’s not getting a front door key and reassure him that we do trust him and consider him a responsible person. So currently, we are contemplating giving him a key to our mailbox instead.
When we stop ourselves from launching into automatic responses during every day conversations we are actually listening to the other person and taking the time to digest what has been said before answering. We are contemplating other options we would otherwise quash straight away by an automatic response.
The dictionary meaning of the word ‘no’ is:-
‘a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request.’
If we at least make an effort to use less negatives when we speak, we are making progress. When we do have to say words such as, ‘no, not now or don’t,’ our children need to understand the reasoning behind our decisions so they don’t take it as a personal affront like my son did when he was told he was not getting a house key.
Our children want to grow as people but are so often surrounded by language that stunts or stifles their growth – not their physical growth but their growth as capable, confident , empowered beings, wanting to explore our world and gain a greater understanding of themselves. We can help empower our children by using positive and affirming language and taking the time to think before we speak.
Would love to hear your comments.