Here's Why These Six Words Could Improve Your Relationship With Your Kids Forever
The things we say to our children can have a profound effect on them - both positive and negative. While it's no secret that they can drive us crazy, they are our little monsters, and even when they've misbehaved, or achieved, it's of the utmost importance that we chose our words carefully as they will likely remember them.
So, if you're looking for your words to have a positive effect on your kids (and why wouldn't you?!), here are six words that could change their lives, as revealed by mom Rachel Macy Stafford in an essay on Hands-Free Mama.
She explained that while she's a supportive and encouraging parent, she had no idea that the language she was using to speak to her children wasn't quite right until she read 'What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One'.
These are the words which changed her and her children's lives:
"… College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: 'I love to watch you play.'"
They caused the doting mom to reflect on how she had been speaking to her children. She realized that while she was doing her best, she was often saying more than she had to about their lives and accomplishments.
"I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed," she wrote.
"Could I really just say, 'I love to watch you play' and leave it at that?" Stafford continued. "And if I did, would my children stand there cluelessly at the next sporting event or musical performance because I had failed to provide all the 'extra details' the time before?"
The next day, she had a chance to put the six words into action at her daughter's swim meet.
During the meet, Stafford's revealed that she had teared up, and thanks to the article, she finally knew why.
"After the meet, my daughter and I stood in the locker room together, just the two of us," she wrote. "I wrapped a warm, dry towel around her shivering shoulders. And then I looked into her eyes and said, 'I love to watch you swim. You glide so gracefully. You amaze me. I just love to watch you swim.''"
She admitted that while this wasn't quite six words, it was a lot less than she'd usually say to her child after watching her engage in a competitive sport - something she described as a "pep talk".
Stafford then touchingly described her daughter's reaction:
"My daughter slowly leaned into me, resting her damp head against my chest for several seconds, and expelled a heavy sigh. And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:
"The pressure's off. She just loves to watch me swim; that is all."
After this success, a week later, Stafford said the same six words to her other daughter after her ukelele practice:
"I bent down, looking straight into the blue eyes sheltered behind pink spectacles and said, 'I love to watch you play your ukulele. I love to hear you sing."
Once again, these six simple words had a profound effect on Stafford's daughter, which she beautifully described:
"It went against my grain to not elaborate, but I said nothing about the dots, nothing about the notes, and nothing about her pitch. This was a time to simply leave it at that.
"My child's face broke into her most glorious smile - the one that causes her eyes to scrunch up and become little slices of joy. And then she did something I didn’t expect. She threw herself against me, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whispered, 'Thank you, Mama.'"
Stafford then repeatedly used these six simple words to encourage her children with a variety of activities:
"I love to watch you read."
"I love to watch you swing across the monkey bars."
"I love to watch you gently admire God's smallest creatures."
"I love to watch you love your baby cousin."
However, after using them for a while, she wondered if they would have a positive effect on an adult too. Namely, her husband. But instead of saying these words to him directly, she wrote down all of the things she loved watching him doing:
"I love watching you help our daughter learn to roller skate."
"I love watching you teach her how to throw the football."
At the time of writing the article, Stafford had yet to give her husband these observations, but she planned to as soon as they had a "quiet moment together". She then ended her essay with words that we can all live by:
"When simply watching someone makes your heart feel as if it could explode right out of your chest, you really should let that person know.
"It is as simple and lovely as that."