When I first started tutoring, I was very impatient with my students. Some students were easy to teach. They understood the concepts easily and could apply them to the questions. Other students just could not get the concepts no matter how many times I explained it to them. It was these students that I became impatient with and I often scolded them. I thought they were pretending not to understand just to frustrate me.
Gradually, I realized that the words I used affected their response. If I said things like “This is so easy, why can’t you get it?” they would become sullen and refused to try. But if I said things like “I know this is hard for you but if you keep trying I’m sure you’ll get it soon” they would try harder. I recognized that words matter. The words we use create an emotional response in the listener. The response can be positive or negative.
Nowadays, I try to think before I speak. Many times it is hard as we tend to just blurt out what’s on our mind. It is good to think about the common phrases you use when you speak to your child and try to re-phrase them to produce a positive feeling. I used to say to my daughter, “What’s the matter with you?” in a tone that implies she’s an imbecile when she does something I think is irresponsible. Now I try to say, “Now we know that didn’t work!” in a milder tone of voice.
Instead of “Why are you always so slow/clumsy/disobedient” I will say “Please work a little faster/Be more careful/I want you to follow my instructions”. The first way makes the child feel bad about herself as a person. The second way teaches the child what to do.
If I tell my student, “You are so noisy, I want you to keep quiet” he probably won’t listen and he’ll feel resentful towards me. But if I tell him “I know you are very excited but please lower your voice so the others can hear me” he’ll probably comply and he won’t feel belittled.
Think about the way you usually speak to others and see if you can improve the relationship by changing the words you use. Talk to your child in a respectful manner and you’ll create a stronger bond.
- How to Empower Your Child by Letting Them Know They Matter (angelamaiers.com)