Amanda was a frustrated mother. She came to coaching for help with her two daughters. "I can't handle them", she said, "They don't listen to me at all. They never do what I tell them to do".
Amanda's daughters were normal, joyful 5- and 3-year-old girls but everything they did upset her. When they ran around giggling, she thought they were too loud. When they watched TV, she was unhappy about them doing nothing. When each of them did her own thing, she thought they did not play nicely with each other. When they wanted each other's toys, she thought they hated each other and never stopped fighting.
Everyone told her great things about her daughters. At first, she thought it was because people did not see what she saw in her daughters or maybe they acted differently around other people, but as she progressed with her coaching program, she realized she had wonderful daughters and she needed help herself.
During a visit to Amanda's house, I noticed that her communication with the girls was full of pink elephants. For a whole hour, she kept telling the girls what not to do - "Don't leave the door open", "Don't run around". Running around is a problem for many parents, but it is important to remember that running around is a healthy, happy, joyful thing that kids do. They benefit from running around and parents should ask themselves "Why not let them?" Even when the girls were sitting quietly and teasing each other in a jolly way, Amanda said, "Don't talk to your sister like that".
For the whole time I was with Amanda and her daughters, she said nothing positive to her daughters and she felt frustrated that her tone of voice was angry. She loved them very much, but had many unrealistic expectations of them.
I believe that kids fulfill the things you think about them. I carry a card in my wallet for 23 years as a reminder for me to watch my language around my kids and other kids I work with. As I have said before, kids are like monkeys. They are mirrors of our own fears and problems. If you tell them what not to do, they cannot learn at all what they should do.
Children Learn What They Live
- Dorothy Law Neite
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child learns to feel shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.
When I talked to Amanda about the reason she did not say positive things to her daughters, she said her mother was exactly like that - strict and always saying what not to do. Amanda found it hard to say good things because she had never heard them herself.
Saying good things to your kids comes from the tank of good things you have heard yourself. When your tank is empty, it is harder to say good things to your kids. However, it is possible!
Saying positive things is a habit, just like the opposite is. If your parents had that habit of being critical rather than encouraging, it is probably because their parents used this communication and their parents used this method of communicating… It is a cycle that we must stop.
If you examine it, you will find that the reason people talk like this to their kids is because many years ago, maybe hundreds of years ago, their grand, grand, grand, grandparents talked like this, probably because of different circumstances, thoughts and fears that no longer exist.
Amanda's daughter behaved in such a way, because the amount of positive things Amanda expressed towards her daughters was little and we have both decided to change the ratio.
Amanda and I sat together and wrote 100 things she could say to her daughters in a positive way. The first step to saying good things to your kids is to start with yourself. Take a sheet of paper and write 100 good things about yourself. Yes, I know it is not easy, especially if you have not heard it from your parents, but remember, you need these thoughts in your tank if you want to easily say them to your kids.
If you cannot think of enough things, ask yourself "What would I have liked my parents to tell me?" This should give you a clear idea about what kids would like their parents to say.
When your list is done, print it and hang it somewhere visible, if you want to measure how wonderful your kids behave, count how many of the compliments here you have used every day. I promise you, the more you use every day, the happier you will feel about your parenting.
Here is Amanda's list. I am sharing it with you in hope that you take some ideas from it to make your list. Remember, this list can be useful for boys as for girls and for every age.
"100 things to say to my daughters" by Amanda
- I am happy you are my daughter
- You are so beautiful
- I am so happy to see you drawing
- You are so smart
- That's a good job
- You are concentrating very well
- Well done!
- You are very responsible
- You are growing so well
- It's great you know what you want
- You are very independent
- You are cute
- You are singing so beautifully
- It is good you are positive
- Your teacher loves you
- It is great that you are persistent
- You are such a great helper
- You are so good at …
- You are playing so nice together
- Your skin is so soft
- You have a magic touch
- Let's hug. You are my teddy bear
- Good job!
- You are very mature
- It is OK to be upset sometimes
- You are my baby
- You are friendly
- You are wonderful
- Everyone loves you
- You are playing so nicely with friends
- You are getting along so well with your sister
- I am proud of you for playing quietly while I am asleep
- It is great to hear you talking to each other at night, like two fairies
- It excites me to see you doing things together
- Look at you! You got dressed all by yourself
- Thank you for helping me
- Your hair is beautiful
- I am glad you are trying even when it is hard
- Your tummy is soft
- You are sweet
- You can do it
- You make us a happy family
- You are very strong
- It is hard, but I am happy you are not giving up
- You are such a good girl
- You are excellent
- I have fun with you
- Thank you!
- You and I grow together. It's wonderful
- You are fun
- You are wonderful
- I am proud that …
- I appreciate it when …
- You are the most … girl
- You make me so happy
- You are the best thing that ever happened to me
- You are a good friend
- To be a wonderful mom, I need wonderful kids and you are a wonderful kid
- You can do anything you want in life, I will help you do it
- You have a wonderful smile
- You have a big heart
- You are so gentle with your sister
- You are so considerate
- I am so proud, I am like a peacock thanks to you
- You are good
- I trust you …
- You are healthy and your body is strong and can heal anything
- You are special
- I am the proudest mom in the world
- If I'm sad, I only need to think about you and my sadness disappears
- You are brave
- You are important to me
- You are my treasure
- You make me feel like a special mom
- I can help if you need me
- You are so joyous
- You are so happy
- You have made my day
- You make me laugh
- I am happy you are taking good care of yourself
- It is great that you try different kinds of food
- You are my sunshine
- You are the love of my life
- You can trust yourself
- I will always help you
- I will always be here for you
- You are such a great traveler
- Just tell me when you need my help
- I am so happy you are adventurous
- You are very understanding
- Everyone thinks highly of you
- You rock!
- You dance so beautifully
- I admire you for …
- Every mom would love to have a kid like you
- A girl like you is every mom's dream
- Being your mom makes me so happy
- You make parenting so wonderful
- I love you!
I hope this list can help you find out the wonderful things you can/should say to your sons and daughters. They need to hear them, but more importantly, you need to hear yourself saying them.
If you have more ideas for me to add to this list and share with the many readers, please write them in the comment box below.
Happy list writing!