Interestingly enough, silence really is golden. I think the trend and best practice advice has always been to talk your way through the day with your baby, toddler, or preschooler. The thinking behind the advice to interact verbally with our children has always been about building that brain and creating those neural pathways.
What would you think if the good word was to limit your sportscasting skills?
“Parents who talk too much to (or at) their children often cause them to tune out or to rebel by arguing or being disobedient. Once family agreements have been made to do things a certain way, based on shared values, a wise parent should expect certain results…Although it is hard to be quiet, do not admonish harshly nor lecture repeatedly. Speak once, and expect to be heard.” ~ The Tao of Parenting
“When we talk over and under and around a child – when we talk too much – there’s less space for their thoughts, for what they have to say. A child’s curiosity and creativity are stifled when they believe that something is not “real” unless, or until you talk about it. It’s hard for a child to go down deeply into their play when someone is telecasting their every move. Processed information is like processed foods: quick and easy.” ~ Simplicity Parenting
I love the advice of author and therapist, Kim John Payne, to strive to say only what is kind, true, and necessary to our children. This is also acknowledging that there are some adult topics that are not suitable for little ears. Our financial challenges, sex lives, and the details of the neighbor’s divorce are not appropriate to discuss in front of our kids. This means that when our children ask us questions about the world – the things they hear and see that may be inappropriate – that we serve as a filter for them when responding to these questions.
For example, recently at a friend’s potluck my friend mentioned that her 4 year old asked her what it feels like to get your tongue pierced. Another mom responded, “Well, at least she didn’t ask you why!” The bottom line is it wouldn’t matter if she had asked why, since it would be completely inappropriate to explain sexual stimulation to a 4 year old.
I think we generally use our common sense and we know intuitively what is and what is not appropriate to tell children and to talk about in front of them; however, it’s always good to have a clear reminder because these lines seem to become more and more gray in our morally corrupt culture.
You create a standard in your home of what words are okay and what words are not. Each family will determine what sounds respectful and courteous. Here are a few samples from our home:
We don’t say “butt” – we say “bottom”
We don’t say “fart” – we say “toot”
We don’t say “boobs” – we say “beebos” or “breasts”
We don’t say “shut-up” – we say “please be quiet”
We don’t say “stupid” – we say “silly”
Words are powerful and create an atmosphere of respect and meaning. Many parents have slipped into swearing in front of their children and more and more kids use “damn,” and “hell,” and it only goes down hill from there. It may seem odd to think about talking less, filtering adult conversation, and bringing back a courteous culture when you think about creating a calmer family life. I think by focusing on how we communicate with one another, the words we choose, the topics we discuss – we create peace through these every day connections.
It would be great to hear about your courtesy standard – what words are not allowed in your home and how have you replaced them?