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. ~ Ephesians 4:29
Words can hurt children. The wrong words, the wrong tone and the wrong body language can scar a child emotionally, can shatter a child’s self-image and can even turn him/her into an emotional cripple. You may be thinking that you would never say or do anything that could harm your child in that way. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is done unknowingly. The good thing is, God has given us just what we need in order to take care of His gift to us, our children.
Below are some common situations that may require you to respond to your child and how you should respond based on scripture. Some of these can present a challenge especially when things are hectic. But remember, awareness and practice make a big difference.
1. Listen, do not interrupt your child. If you ask your child a question and you don’t like the path it is taking, do not interrupt. Interrupting negates his feelings and if done repeatedly, it could lead to low self-esteem. Afterward, affirm the conversation, but make sure it is sincere and honest.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
2. When you have made a mistake say, “I’m sorry”. This teaches them how to apologize and how to take responsibility for their actions. “I’m sorry” can also serve as words of affirmation for your child.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32
3. Limit when and how you tease your child. Children don’t think abstractly enough to get sarcasm, which relies on high-level reasoning. And, even the jokes they do get, can internalize them, resulting in negative effects. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you.
Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. ~ Ephesians 5:4.
Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. ~ 2 Timothy 2:16
4. Don’t overuse the word, “No.” Sometimes you have to say, “No.” However, if you say it too much your child will start to “turn you off.”
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; Proverbs 15:28a
5. Don’t yell or scream. Yelling makes children more aggressive, physically and verbally. Yelling is an expression of anger, scares children and make them feel insecure. Calmness, on the other hand, is reassuring, which makes children feel loved and accepted in spite of bad behavior.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1-2
6. Eliminate the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Just think about what this is saying to your child! It sets up a contradiction between your words and your actions which can confuse a child. And it does not help them learn how to make choices.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path. Psalm 37:30-31
7. Don’t pressure him with expectations that are too high. Don’t tell him he will certainly make the team or that he will certainly get an “A” on the test because he studied. Instead, encourage him and after offer the appropriate praise. i.e. “I’m proud of you because you tried out.”
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
8. Don’t say things like, “you never” or “you always”. Speaking in absolutes is almost like not
telling the truth because absolutes are not 100%. Use truthful statements.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
9. Avoid saying, “Because I said so.” Giving them a reason why something can or can’t be done will help them learn. It is best to be honest with them if there isn’t a reason. Furthermore, the “Because I said so” answer can cause resentment and lead to behavior problems.
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
10. Don’t exclude your child. If you are around other adults and your child is with you, introduce your child just as you would a friend. This teaches your child how politeness.
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
Parents have an awesome responsibility raising children. God left us written instructions to show us how to take care of our children… His gift to us. It is up to us to let God’s Word guide the words we speak to our children.