Make Sure You Mean What You Say

There are some parenting tips and suggestions that I don’t think can be said to much—one of which has to do with being completely authentic and impeccable with what we say to our kids. We have to mean what we say.

I remember many years ago, when I was a young mom of three kids under the age of four and I would devour any books, articles, and television programs on programming I could find. There was one program that I used to watch with the parenting expert T. Berry Brazelton—it was a simple television program and he would sit in a play room with two frazzled parents and their child and they would just talk over whatever issues might be going on and he would offer suggestions and advice. Brazelton always had a calming smile and a way of gently probing and pushing parents to do what needed to be done. One of the messages he shared again and again was that we have to mean what we say to our kids. If this means saying less, that is better than saying more and not following through with what we actually do say.

Idle threats, hypothetical situations, ideas that are still in their formulation and incubation period, thinking out loud—all of these can be a parent’s downfall. I know that we’re not perfect and I have done my share of saying all sorts of things in the heat of the moment (or the heat of the battle) that I didn’t mean—but I did learn from those old parenting television programs that our kids are smarter and more clever than we give them credit for. They know very early if we mean what we say or not, and if they get the message that we only say what we mean, we have more authority and credibility—and our children feel more secure and less likely to act out.

Also: Conversing With Our Kids

Watch Out for Shame

Less Talk, More Action

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