Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents use proper words and tones with their children. Most people know and understand that yelling at children is not good. Parents cannot begin to control their children until they can control their own voice and body.
I was yelled at as a child, and I was spanked. I preferred being spanked because the pain did not last as long. The physical body heals a whole lot faster than the emotional one. Parents should be careful about controlling the tone of their voice as well as their words.
It goes without saying that parents and teachers should use as many positive words as possible. If something negative must be said, it should be sandwiched among several positive things. This post is about a different kind of words. I am the kind of mother who usually says, “Be careful.” It is okay for me to say them to my adult children. However, there are better words that I can say to my grandchildren. A post on Pinterest drew my attention today because it tells me what I can say instead of “Be careful.”
Children most likely do not understand why a parent says, “Be careful” because they think that they are always being careful! However, they may be more alert if a parent says something like, “Did you notice how slippery the rocks are?” or “Did you see that poison ivy by the trail?” or “Do you feel the heat from the fire?” When parents ask this type of question instead of saying “Be careful,” it helps the child to learn awareness of the world around them.
When a parent notices that their child seems to be planning something dangerous, such as climbing a big boulder, he might ask, “What is your plan? What might you find up there?” If they need to cross something, a parent can ask, “What can you use to cross safely?” If the child finds a treasure that they want to take home, a parent can ask, “Where do you plan to put it?” If a child wants to go somewhere or do something, a parent can ask, “Who will go with you? or “Who will help you with it?”
The words “Be Careful” may go in one ear and out the other, but a well-asked question causes a person to pause and think. That pause to think may foster greater awareness of surroundings or help a child to solve a problem. Children develop better life skills when parents ask questions rather than say “Be careful.” As the children expand their skills, they strengthen their families, communities, and nations.