Image: Stockbyte/Getty ImagesLately, I've been finding myself cringing as certain phrases come out of my mouth when speaking to my children. It's not one of those situations where I'm saying things my parents said that I swore I never would. It's that I'm saying things that either I know aren't really accurate or that may be something I want in that exact moment, but not things that I want to instill in my children for the long term. Here are three phrases I'm trying to eliminate from my repertoire when speaking to my kids so that I don't scar them for life.
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1. "Stop asking so many questions." My son is VERY inquisitive. I don't mind answering questions about the way things work or why we need to go somewhere, but he wants to know every detail about everyone's life whether it is about friends or why my phone just dinged to alert me that I had an email and who was it. "Why can't they play today? What are they having for dinner? Who called? What did they want? Why did they want to know it?" and so on and so on.
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I'm trying to get him to learn that sometimes we don't need to know the reasons behind people's decisions, and that every time I communicate with someone he doesn't need to know the details. But I don't really want him to "stop asking so many questions." Asking questions is an important part of learning and I fear that by saying this so often he will someday be afraid to ask a question when it's important that he does and that I am squashing his confidence by asking him to be quiet. I must stop saying this.
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2. "In a minute." This is my way of saying I'll get to it when I get to it. "Mom, will you get me a drink?" "Mom, can I paint?" "Mom, will you help me with the Wii controllers?" With the hundreds of questions (see #1 above) I get asked in a day, I'm constantly trying to bide myself some time to actually finish writing a sentence, and so my go-to phrase is "in a minute," but both myself and my children know that I don't mean it, and now they're starting to use it when they don't want to do something I ask them to do. Actually telling them that I will do something when I finish what I'm currently working on or giving them a more accurate time frame would make them less frustrated with me, and me less frustrated with them when they come back a minute later and ask me the question again or tell me "it's been a minute."
3. "Just a little bit." I really do believe in saying "no" to my children, but sometimes rather than get into it with them I'll tell them they can have "just a little bit." Them: "Can I have dessert?" Me: "Just a little bit." The answer just needs to be "yes" or "no." Not offering a firm decision reduces my clout as being the one in charge in the house. They can't have dessert or a lot of other things every day, and so allowing them to have some rather than none is not in line with how I really want to parent them. It needs to be all or nothing.
What phrases do you catch yourself saying that you want to remove from your language?
Sarah O'Neill Fernandez blogs at Chateau & Bungalow
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