“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never harm me.” Remember hearing that as a kid? Or perhaps you have even said it. Well, words do hurt. In fact, although they don’t break bones, they can break a child’s spirit. And if the child’s love language is Words of Affirmation, it can be devastating.
Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In other words, think before you speak to avoid hurting your child.
What is your tone? When you speak to your child, it should be loving and comforting, not mean and hateful. Believe it or not, your child will remember the tone more than what you said.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1
1. Don’t compare your child to anyone. It can be very painful for a child to hear you say, “Why can’t you be like Jody?” Or “Why do you have to be like you are.” Or, “Your brother would have done it right.” Comparing your child with others can break his spirit and can hurt his self-esteem. God made each of us unique. He doesn’t compare us, what gives us the right to compare anyone?
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. ~Psalm 139:13-14
2. Don’t Accuse your child. Even if you know your child lied, don’t yell and call him a liar. It is best to state the facts and discuss the consequences. Use it as a teaching moment.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. ~ Psalm 37:30
3. Don’t say things that you can’t carry through. “I am going to send you to live with someone else.” You know you have no intentions of doing it and it just serves to confuse your child. He’ll think you won’t carry through with other things you say.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
4. Don’t ask your child a question that you know the answer to but don’t want him to answer. Asking your child a question and then telling him to be quiet just serves to aggravate him and you.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14
5. Don’t be demeaning. Calling your child stupid, idiot, lazy or tell him that he can’t do anything right. It isn’t true, it’s hurtful and if you say it repeatedly, your child will start to believe it.
Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
6. Don’t minimize your child’s feelings. Acknowledge his feelings, they are real to him. Children feel real hurt, real disappointment from their friends. Encourage them to talk but do not disregard their feelings.
Wise words satisfy like a good me; the right words bring satisfaction. ~ Proverbs 18:20
7. Don’t give up on your child. It is normal to get upset, frustrated and aggravated and want to through your hands up when you’re stressed and the kids are exhibiting bad behavior. Whatever you do, don’t say things like, “I’m done”, “I’m through with you,’ or “I quit.” This hurts your child and he can feel like you no longer love him.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:39
8. Don’t sink to your child’s level. If your child tells you that he hates you, don’t respond in kind or say something like, “I wish I had never had kids.” Those words are very harmful and could have lasting negative effects. Just let him know that you will always love him and nothing will ever change that.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
9. Don’t exclude your child. If you are talking to an adult and your child comes in, introduce your
your child as you would a friend, don’t ignore him. This teaches child politeness and makes him feel wanted.
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Titus 2:7