Change Your Words.

I came across the following tip in a newsletter that I subscribe to. The newsletter is written by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller and you can find a copy of it here.

Teacher Talk Tip

Change your words and you change your thoughts and perceptions. Change your thoughts and perceptions and you change your beliefs. Change your beliefs and you change your behaviors. Change your behaviors and you change the reaction you invite.

Possible words to change

Mistake….Learning opportunity

Detention….Responsibility room

Problem solving….Solution seeking

Field Trip….Adventure in learning

Study….Growing your mind

Rules….Healthy limits


This is taken from Teacher Talk: What It Really Means by Chick Moorman and although it is aimed at teachers, as a parent there is a lot that I can take from this approach.

The words on the right hand side do more accurately describe quite often what I am trying to communicate to my children. For example I do use the word consequences a bit and it does have a much greater intonation of “punishment”, when really I just need them to know that what happens next will be a direct OUTCOME of their behaviour. Even in my own mind these words bring up different images, so I am sure they would for my children.

The book itself also makes great suggestions on how to communicate openly and honestly with children. He looks at traditional techniques for managing children’s behaviour like highlighting children who are behaving well and explains:

“I like the way Linda is sitting” is not honest, direct communication. In fact the message is not even intended for Linda. It is intended for everyone else. Linda is being used to manipulate other students into behaving in a similar way. When you do this, you model indirect communication and manipulation.

I needed to refresh myself on how important my choice of words are when I am communicating with my kids. Sometimes I fall into the trap of blurting out what I am feeling instantly. Just like I would if I were talking to an adult, I think I need to pause for a few moments (and allow the intensity of the situation to dilute slightly!), gather my thoughts then speak.

I need to model this style of communication, because this I would like to show my children how to:

“speak in ways that encourage problem-solving rather than blame and punishment.”

Is this something you try to encourage in your kids? If so, how do you go about it and do the kids take it on board?