Did you know if you simply change your words you can change your mindset and your life?
Words are fascinating.
How people use words shows exactly how they feel about themselves and the world.
Isn’t that amazing?
There is a book and an audio series by Zig Ziglar called Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World.
While some of the series is antiquated now, the part about how changing your words to change your mindset and your life are timeless.
Why toddlers say No so much
Believe it or not, most of us speak negatively, especially to children.
Ever wonder why toddlers use the word “NO” so often?
How do people speak to them all day?
Don’t do that!
Stop doing that!
How many times does the average toddler hear those phrases?
And I get it, some toddlers seem like they are constantly pushing buttons and limits, because they are.
They are figuring out how life works and some personality types, even and especially as toddlers really do push as far as they possibly can.
Ever wonder why toddlers do the very thing you don’t want them to do?
Get ready to have your mind blown, because according to the book and many other experts, it’s because of the way you say it.
Before you get defensive and say that’s that way things have been for generations, listen to the rest of the explanation.
What if you could change your child’s behavior simply by changing the way you talk to them?
Wouldn’t you love for the answer to improve your child’s behavior to be that simple?
It can be, but it’s not always easy to change this damaging behavior.
What do you really want your child to do?
I know what you’re thinking.
I want them to stop being a jerk and listen to me.
I get it, but listen to this.
Say your child is running around a causing a ruckus by running when they shouldn’t be.
What’s the first thing most parents say?
They say, “stop running” or “don’t run in the store”.
The child hears the word run or running, so they continue to run.
Then it escalates, and you tell them, “if you keep running, I’m going to…”.
Now they have a choice, run or suffer the consequence.
They might stop or they might not, depending on their personality type, but what if you could avoid that situation altogether by one small word change?
What if, instead of telling your child not to run, you tell them to walk?
Isn’t that the behavior you want in the first place?
It’s a small thing, but it’s revolutionary!
Instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong and magnifying it, you point them in the direction of the behavior you want.
An experiment with the word “NO”
Think of all the conflict you can avoid simply by rethinking how you say things.
Think of all the confusion you eliminate by clearly stating what you expect rather than what you don’t want.
I can tell you from experience this works.
When my oldest child was two, we decided to do an experiment.
We decided to stop using the word “No” and replace it with positive language.
It was difficult at first when he reached for something to refrain from saying “No”.
Instead we would use his name and tell him to do something else.
We said things like “leave that alone” or “how about you come over here and play with your toys” or “you need to walk away from that”.
It sounds simple,and it is, but it was difficult in the moment.
It may also sound ridiculous to some of you because you feel like your kids should just do what you tell them to do however you tell them to, but let me ask you something.
How do you feel or did you feel when you were younger and someone just wanted you to do whatever they said?
Did it make you want to do the “bad” thing even more?
Did you feel shame?
This was incredibly powerful, but we didn’t expect was how powerful it would be.
Keep reading and find out.
One day while eating lunch at a restaurant, the server asked me if my son wanted a soft drink with his meal.
My son piped up and said, “Well actually, I would like chocolate milk.”
The waitress looked at me and said, “Actually?” and I told her we stopped using the word “no”. and In the process, my son decided to use the word “actually” instead.
It’s a humorous but poignant moment about how children adapt to the language they hear, and it set a precedent for the way we raised all of our our children.
How changing your words matters for your child’s future
When my middle child discovered a love of linguistics he found out that some tribes in remote areas had no words for the past and the future, only the present.
Because they have no words for the future, planning for floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters is impossible for them because they don’t understand the concept of planning for the future.
They also hold no grudges because they have no words for things that happened in the past.
What if choose our children’s future, in part, by the language we use in the present?
This same son hated high school.
His friend group had a lot of drama, and he disliked several required classes.
He could hardly wait to graduate.
Concerned that he wouldn’t want to pursue college, which we thought was best for him, we decided to focus on the benefits of higher education for him.
We told him that when he finished his general education classes in college, he would enjoy learning about subjects he found interesting, and that is exactly what happened.
In fact, his college grade point average was better than his high school grade point average, and he is living a life he loves.
That is definitely a win in the parent column.
How changing your words changes your mindset too
Nearly everyone wants to improve their life in some way.
What do you want to change in yours?
What if you focus on a healthier body rather than a skinnier one?
How does that sound?
What if you focus on wealth creation rather than getting rid of debt?
Does the idea of wealth make you happy or are you so focused on debt that’s all you can see?
If you are not where you want to be in life, your words matter to get you where you want to go.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child and yourself is to understand their personality and your own and use the best words to empower you all.
By learning that, you help them develop their strengths while learning more about yours.
It is truly a life changer.