Is it possible to change someone’s behavior just by the words we speak to them? The answer is yes! Here is my personal experience with changing my son’s behavior simply by using encouraging, inspiring life-giving words.
“Words are things. They get into your walls, your upholstery, your furniture, your clothes and finally into you.” – Maya Angelou
Our words have so much power.
The words we chose to use can lift someone up from despair, calm a worried heart or bring a smile to someone’s face.
I want the words I speak to bring about change, to empower and encourage my child and those I love! Don’t you?
There was a time when I was so frustrated with my son’s behavior. Until I discovered how powerful my words were and how I can use encouraging words to change his behavior. The results were amazing.
My sweet boy seems to know just the right buttons to push to get me riled up and using my ‘outside’ voice. 🙂 He would throw a fit when I asked him to do anything around the house or bother his sister none-stop, even when I asked him numerous times to stop.
He was incessant. And there I would be, yelling and getting just as agitated as he was.
We were a mess. A screaming, frustrated, worked-up mess. Sounds familiar? Are you dealing with this at home as well?
You can read about a particularly bad episode and the grace that followed here.
At my wits-end, I was reading my Bible one night (I had this crazy idea to see if I could read the Bible from beginning to end – in my free time and all). Crazy right? Anyway, there I was starting at the first book of Genesis and I read the words, “In the beginning”. By the way, I love those words. It’s the equivalent to “once upon a time” in fairy tale story books, when you know you’re in for a real treat – a juicy story. Except this one is real and as unbelievable as a fairy tale.
I digress, in the beginning, God spoke the world and galaxies and all its inhabitants into existence. He spoke you and me into being. His words created all we see.
And so it got me thinking, if God spoke the world into being, and His Spirit lives in me then maybe I could speak life and positivity into my son as well and help change his behavior from negative to something more tolerable.
THE GREAT EXPERIMENT
I was willing to try anything at this point. So I decided to start the very next day. But how can I do it correctly though? Where’s the manual?
I decided the best way to start was to keep it simple, and as the young people now say, keep it “caysh” (short for casual, I think). So instead of waiting for him to start his shenanigans, I began the day with positive words right from the get go.
“Hey buddy, you are such a gift from God”
“Good morning sweetie, I am so grateful to be your mommy.”
“Thank you for being so kind. You have such a light within you.”
“I know God has big plans for you.”
“You are created to do great things.”
“You are a child of God. So caring and kind.”
“You are such a blessing to this family.”
“I smile every time I think of you.”
And on and on, heaping encouragement and loving on him and my other children as well.
He gave me some weird looks since I must have sounded a little strange. I felt strange saying them too – they definitely didn’t come naturally to me either.
I also got some helpful tips from Positive Parenting Solutions which has a wealth of information on encouragement.
Slowly, very slowly I started to see a change. A subtle positive response when asked to do something. Or less of the tantrum-throwing that literally sucked the peace out of home the week before.
Once I notice this difference I was even more committed to continue. I started telling him all the qualities I wish for him. That he is kind, a hard worker, an excellent reader, a loving brother etc.
I found that while his behavior was changing, so was mine! I was calmer as I spoke those words, more loving and tender. It’s hard to say “you are such a patient brother” through gritted teeth (trust me, I’ve tried it). It reeks of insincerity!
Now-a-days, if he misbehaves to the point of chaos, I would take a deep breath, calm myself down and then repeat my mantra. Over and over. Until he calmed down too.
It takes time and work and consistency to drop what you’re doing to gently touch your child’s hand or shoulders but I am one hundred percent convinced that speaking life, hope and goodness into and over my children drastically changed their behavior.
WILL IT WORK ON MY OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS?
After seeing the effects my words and God’s words had on my son, I was hooked. Could this work on myself, my other family members, my co-workers?
As a matter of fact it works with anyone who you have a close relationship with. And it works even if you don’t say it out loud to them. Say what?
I will start by advising you to not go up to your husband or that annoying co-worker and tell them that they are “such a joy to be around”, especially if there has been tension between you lately. Your well-meaning statement will only be seen as major sarcasm and make things worst. (haha)
Can you imagine if you’re arguing with your hubby and the next day you say “morning sweetie, you are so such a hard worker” even though the trash is overflowing and he’s been lounging on the couch the day before? Let’s avoid such confusion, shall we. 🙂
Instead I suggest we do this in secret. I recommend grabbing a notebook or journal and writing down your life-giving affirmation in a book only you (and God) will see.
In it, you will list every single quality you would like in the person in your life. You will write it down as it if it is already that way. In other words, you will speak that character trait into and over that person.
Here’s how I did mine:
(Name of person) is a kind (relation to you, partner, friend, co-worker, supervisor etc.)
(Name of person) is a patient and helpful.
(Name of person) recognizes my contributions and appreciates my hard work.
And on and on.
After you’re done you will read what you’ve written. Believe your words even if current situation shows contrary.
Do this everyday. I try to get up early and write my life-giving words in my notebook.
If you do it one of two things will happen:
- You will start to see a change in the person you are blessing
- You will start to see a change in you
WHY IT WORKS
- Words are prophetic: By speaking or writing goodness into someone else’s life, you are essentially praying that thing for them. You are not manipulating them, you see the potential in them and you are simply choosing to focus on that instead of the negative things. You are changing your own mindset by changing your focus. In the end, both you and the other person benefit from this exercise. Your child, for example, will begin to believe that what you say about him or her is true. Just as negative words can cripple a child, just so positive life-giving words can set them free to become the people they are truly meant to be.
- Words displays our faith: It is an act of faith that we speak goodness into and over someone. You are speaking life into that person with faith that God – in His perfect timing – will bring those blessings to fruition. You believe they have all these in them, you know they do, and you are only calling it to mind. I knew that my son deep down was a wonderful brother, a hard worker, and a joy to be around. Despite his behavior, he was still amazing. My words reminded him of his true self and encouraged him to embrace that part of himself more fully than before.
- Words breaks down limiting beliefs: I have been on the receiving end of this life-giving exercise and I am so very grateful for it. When I first moved to the U.S., leaving my entire family behind in Belize, my husband Mark was so encouraging and supportive. He would tell me over and over and over again, that I could do anything I wanted, that I was amazing. That people are naturally drawn to me. There I was a shy, 22-year old, on my own for the first time, with my husband and his words changed me! His words gave me such confidence and love for myself that I am absolutely a believer in the amazing power of our words. He said it so frequently that I started to believe them too. It is amazing and the most loving gift ever!
TRY IT! GO BE AWESOME
I am so excited for you! You are going to see such benefit from doing this. It will blow you away how transformative it is to speak words of faith, love and encouragement to those we love. Change is on the way friend, either change for you or for that person.
Start today! To review, here are the 3 steps:
- Write down phrases you will speak over your child. Since its hard to think of things on the fly, especially if things are chaotic, it would be helpful to have a list of phrases that you can practice beforehand or have on a small sheet of paper that you can whip out and recite.
- Speak your life-giving positive words often, always, consistently. Speak them until you believe them with your whole heart.
- Each day, write down your blessing for anyone else other than your child. Read them daily.
Easy-peasy right. You can totally do this and reap the tremendous benefit.
Let’s change the words we speak to our children.
Let us change the words we speak to each other.
Together, let’s speak loving, kind, life-giving words that uplift, encourage and transforms.
I can’t wait to hear how this helps you and your family.
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