As parents, the words we speak to our children are the most powerful words our kids will ever hear. We have the power to build our kids up or tear them down… all with the words we speak.
Our words play an amazing role in raising brave, fearless, and compassionate kids. Ones who know they have a purpose in this world and aren’t afraid to rise to their God-given potential and be their best.
However, this is easier said than done… no pun intended. Choosing the right words at the right times requires practice and discipline.
I’m not proud to say this, but I used to be a dumper. A dumper is a parent that dumps all their emotional baggage onto their kids. Anytime I’d get frustrated, I’d verbally lean into my daughter in a way that wasn’t healthy for either of us.
It’s been many years since I’ve grown from that toxic form of parenting. And I’m so grateful for that because my daughter is now much older and we have such an amazing relationship and she literally surprises me every day with her maturity and ability to make wise decisions.
I know if I continued down my destructive path, it probably wouldn’t be the case.
Words are powerful and have the ability to heal or destroy, uplift or tear down, encourage or intimidate, to love or to hate. And the words we speak to our kids will either encourage them to be their best or tear them down.
And like I said, our words as parents are some of the most powerful words we’ll EVER speak!
Our words aren’t just a way we communicate our thoughts and needs to each other. They’re way more important – holding in each word the capability to frame our world.
The Power of Our Words
God used only His words when He spoke the universe into existence. And we were created by God to work the same way. In the book of Genesis, we see God made us in His image and after His likeness. Therefore, we were created to be imitators of the way God operates. In fact, I believe He expects us to.
He framed the entire universe with only His words, and He expects us to do the same with the universe of our lives and family. We have a whole lotta power! We should be mindful of how we use it.
Whether or not you’ve ever heard this before or are struggling to believe this way of thinking, you’ve been using your words with a purpose your entire life.
Think about when you see someone hurting or in need. You instinctively feel the need to say something to comfort or encourage them. We know deep inside how important our words really are.
The same is true when we lose our temper and hurtful words try to fly out of our mouth. And in that brief moment, we feel good because we know how deeply words can slice… way deeper than anything physical.
That is, until the dreadful regret sets in. And yelling and dumping on our kids is one of the hardest to overcome feelings of regret. After every tirade, no matter how big or small, I’d feel like the WORST person on the planet. I would feel so heavy and depressed. I NEVER want to go back to those days again!
Maybe you’re not a yeller or a dumper, that’s great! But have you considered that you may be instilling fear or insecurities in your child? All it takes is a mention of their limitations, so-called flaws, or imperfections.
Even done in a joking way can perpetuate negative thought patterns and create destructive behaviors without us ever knowing that we dropped the seed.
Sure, it’s important to have conversations with our kids about things that aren’t right or need improvement but it should always be done in a way that lifts them up and encourages them to make better, healthier choices.
We should never make fun of our kids or poke at them about their personality, appearance, or things they’re shared with us in confidence. That is extremely damaging to your relationship and their heart.
The Purpose of Our Words
The purpose of our words is to build. To build up the lives and hearts around us! To affirm, protect, encourage, and love our children with our words. To make them believe they are loved, capable, worthy, and brave.
Do you know what you’ve been building?
As I said earlier, we have the power to build fear, depression, insecurities, and more. Instead, we want to focus on building confidence, uniqueness, bravery, and compassion in our children.
Think of your words as the building materials of your life. Now picture yourself with your family on a construction site ready to build your lives together. You each have been given tools and the bricks to build the structure you’ll be living in. Your words are the bricks that that will become the walls of your life.
You can do as many people do and use those bricks as weapons to throw at each other through our comments. Or you can come together and use them to build your family’s amazing legacy.
So how do we actually use our words to build?
That’s simple, start by imaging the life you really want to be living. Imagine your kids and how you’d love for them to act, imagine your ideal marriage, and imagine what your dream home life would look like.
Then begin to say what we want. When your toddler throws a tantrum, instead of telling him to stop being a bad boy – tell him he’s a good boy so he should act like a good boy. We’ve never dealt with more than a handful of tantrums with all three of our kids. We’ve made it a practice to speak what we want to see instead of what we do see.
When your husband forgets to take out the trash for the hundredth times, try telling him what an amazing husband he is. You’ll be surprised how motivated your husband can be when he feels loved and appreciated. I know, I know… you may not feel like you’re appreciated yourself, but remember we’re building the marriage we want and many times that will require us to sow some good seed of grace.
The Practice of Our Words
If we speak negative and condemning words long enough, we’ll eventually change the direction and outcome of what was to be. This is what sociologist Robert K. Merton calls a self-fulfilling prophecy (source). In order for a prophecy to take place, there needs to be a prophet to speak it.
A prophet is one who foretells the future. Or we could say one who foretells their future. To foretell means to tell beforehand; predict, prophecy.
It’s our responsibility as parents to fill our kids with hope, encouragement, and support. We should get excited about raising kids who believe they have a real purpose in this world, who know their actions make a difference, and are brave and know how to overcome fear and negative emotions.
So what does this look like in action?
Affirm First, Correct Second
One effective way to encourage your kids is to lead any disciplining conversations with positivity first. It’s way too easy to “say what you see” and rattle off the things we know our kids aren’t doing right, but it takes discipline to search for what they are doing right before we go into full-on correction mode.
Even when they’re messing up, they need to be reminded that they are doing some things right.
Have a Confession
Daily confessions and declarations are very helpful ways to speak positive things in your life. You can have a confession that you read aloud for yourself and over your children. You can also have a confession that you speak with your children to help set them up for a great day.
This post from Matt McWilliams dives even further into the power of declarations and links to a free declarations page you can download and use with your kids!
Say Something Kind Every Day
Make a habit of complimenting your kids every day… no matter what. I’ll be honest, sometimes this feels awkward or maybe there’s just nothing jumping out at you to say without repeating the same things over and over.
Sure, that may be the case, but imagine if finding a compliment to give your child every day is challenging for you (their mom!) it’s even more challenging for friends, teachers, and other people in their life. In other words, if they’re not getting kind words from you, they probably aren’t getting them from anyone else.
Kids don’t come into this world knowing they’re loved, special, have a purpose, and have the power to change the world. They have to be told this!
Now that you know the power of your words, it’s time to make your action plan and become more intentional about what we say. It doesn’t matter what’s in your yesterday, it only matters what you make time for in your today!
What words do you speak over your family? Do you have declarations or confessions? Share them in the comments below!