"You're rude!" I found myself saying this to my daughter a few times in one week. She was giving me major attitude and I was stressed with Christmas preparations. She isn't normally rude and I would never describe her that way. However, out the words came, and more than once. Can you relate? Thankfully, the Lord speaks quietly to me and reminded me that I need to build my daughter up, not tear her down. If she continues to hear these words from me she will begin to believe them about herself. Is this what I want my daughter believing about herself? Of course not! Was my daughter being rude? Absolutely! Does that rude behaviour need to be addressed? Of course! But as I reflected on this, two important lessons came to mind.
Number one: It is incredibly important to differentiate between what a child is and what a child's behaviour is. My daughter was behaving in a rude manner, but she, at her core, is not a rude person. It would have been far more fitting to say, "Keanna, I appreciate how kind and polite you usually are. Right now your behaviour towards me is rude. Can we talk about it?" This affirms positive qualities that my daughter already has and provides an opportunity to find out what's really wrong, instead of making the accusatory, "You," statement, which often leads to a defensive attitude.
Number two: I need to focus more on positive verbal encouragement for my children. It is so easy to tell my children when they are doing something wrong or when their behaviour is less than ideal. So I created a goal for myself to intentionally say one positive thing each day to each of my children. I realize one comment isn't very much but I have to start somewhere! Another idea I had was to write a list on my daughter's mirror with dry-erase marker of things that she IS. She IS kind, she IS helpful, she IS a child of God. What great reminders for her to see every day!
Now maybe this isn't your struggle. Maybe these nasty, "You," statements never come flying out of your mouth. But I would still encourage you to ask yourself, "Do I positively affirm my child's beautiful qualities and characteristics daily?" If not, maybe you can also make the goal of saying one positive affirmation each day. Let me tell you, if it's not a habit you are already in, it's easy to forget! Set a reminder on your phone if you need to. And I'd be willing to bet you already have a dry erase marker. Go write a note to your child! Right now. It takes only two minutes! Don't tell your child you're doing it. Wait and let him or her discover it. When my daughter discovered her note, she wrote back on my mirror :)