“I’m not that nice.”

Little Billy was only three years old. It was nighttime, and we were going through our routine. First he had a fun, relaxing bubble-bath. Brushing teeth was next, then… time for a snuggly story. Prayer together–the last thing on the agenda.  I was praying for him:  “Thank you, Lord, that Billy is so kind to his brothers and sisters. Thank you that he loves them and shares with them.”

“No, Mom!” he stopped me.  “I’m not that nice!  Don’t say all those good things about me.”

Isn’t it amazing that his conscience was already active at three years old? He was already beginning to deal with sin in his heart. The Holy Spirit was already working in him.

I understood that sometimes his behavior and his heart attitude hit the target, and sometimes they didn’t; but I was trying to encourage the good behavior. As he heard me pray for him, the Holy Spirit was training his character. LET YOUR KIDS HEAR YOU PRAY FOR THEIR CHARACTER.

Just as God spoke the universe into existence, we who are made in God’s image reflect his power to speak and see results.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Our words can bring affirmation, encouragement, hope, guidance; or our words can bring rejection, disheartenment, despair, a dead-end. Our words are creative and they do produce an effect. They do have meaning.

Unfortunately, it is easier to spot negative behavior and attitudes in others. Our critical words add negative to negative. To our young ones: “Luke, you are so selfish. You never want to share your toys!” What is the result of this kind of statement?  Would Luke be inclined to act differently? We have labeled him as selfish.

What about words to our teens: “You are so lazy! All you do is play video games, and you never get anything done!” We have labeled him as lazy.

Maybe hearing this once in a lifetime wouldn’t have disastrous results, but repeated conversations like this reinforce the exact thing we want to change. We can and should correct bad behavior; just don’t label the person.

In the best-selling book, Switch, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, the authors discuss this thought this way: Find bright spots in a situation.  Find what is good.  Find what is working. And emphasize it!

Click here for a short video.

Applying this “bright spot” thought to developing our children, we want to affirm through our words. We want to find the times our children are doing it right and emphasize it. “Luke, I love the way you share your blocks with your sister!”

“Ethan, you did your homework before you did anything else! You’re on the right track!”

Our tongue is a tool that we can use to destroy or to build. Let’s build!