You know the saying it’s not what you say, but how you say it? This can be a big lesson for our children (and for some of us adults shhhhh). We’ve all had experiences where children run up to us and say things like ‘give me a biscuit!’, or ‘I want to go home’ (arms crossed, lips pouting and feet stomping). Children will always make mistakes because they are always learning, but that just means that as parents we will always be teaching them. Teaching my children to speak in a respectful tone is so important to me because how they speak to their mother is how they’ll speak to their teacher, bosses and future spouses.
Do I want them to yell commands at me all day? Do I want them to speak to me like they’re the adult and I’m the child? This is going beyond ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. It’s getting to the core of their heart attitude. What is their tone saying about them? The way they speak is an insight into their heart. Are they angry every time they ask something? Frustrated, impatient or just plain stuck up? Or are they gentle, kind, patient and gracious? The way our children speak can change the whole atmosphere in the house. But we have to take action in order to teach our children to speak in love.
When my children run up to me and say ‘I want a drink’ I reply, ‘How do we ask’? They will immediately rephrase the question to ‘please may I have a drink of water’. Lovely, job done. Now here’s the secret – are you ready?? I will never, ever, ever give them what they want or are asking for if they don’t ask in the right tone and attitude. Just saying the right words isn’t enough. They have to have the right attitude. Tears may be shed, feet may be stomped, but we have to hang in there and not give in to bad attitudes. We’re always taking the long term goal over the short term gain. Don’t let that moment of inconvenience stop your children from being respectful. Take the time – every time. It’s so worth it!
My 6 year old can get quite intense with her questions and I have to remember to make sure that my tone is always right before responding. It’s easy to respond in that same frustration, anger and impatience when we’re being asked thousands of questions a day. But we need to model how we wish to be spoken to. I have found that the more frustrated my tone gets the worse all my kids attitudes get. Keeping our tone calm and cool will help encourage a good attitude in our children and model healthy communication.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 1 Corinthians 13:1 MSG