How often do you hear children being asked to use their words? It can be a problematic request as high emotions and limited vocab make this a real challenge for children.
Perhaps we are better to look at taking our own advice, and look at how using our words could help us in our parenting journey.
Using our words!
We can ‘use our words’ to give explanations to our children, to help them understand what we need and why. We're not using our words if we hold up a hand, or snap a quick, “not now”, when they come for help when we are busy. If instead we say what we are doing, when we’ll be done and what we can do for them after, then we are using our words.
If we use words to make requests, it saves any false hope that our children (or partners) can read our minds. Putting words to the specific help we would like is so much more useful than sighing and seething in frustration or anger.
Sometimes we mistake one or two word answers as actual communication. If it is connection we are seeking we need to go beyond “I’m fine”, or “ busy” as responses.
We can give our children richer details of our day, give an anecdote, or make links with their day. We can share how we actually feel, using words that describe the full range of our emotions - there is so much beyond just happy or sad.
Even with other adults we can give a genuine account of how we feel, and share our stories. Our language, regardless of who we are talking to can be interesting and dynamic. We can let people in, giving them insight into who we truly are. That is what connection is built on.
We can also use the written word to process our thoughts or to communicate with others. Written notes and cards are so meaningful, and open the channels of communication. Our children really appreciate being the recipient of wee notes, and having the opportunity to write us back.
Words are so powerful. We instinctively know this which is why we tend to prompt our children to express themselves verbally.
The best way to help them ‘use their words’ is to use our own, in deep, genuine and intentional ways.
Our modelling provides all the ‘teaching’ they need, and their own ‘way with words’ will develop naturally.