"We are born with the power of the universe on the tip of our tongues." --Anonymous

We have access to such a simple yet powerful tool to affect the way we and our children experience our lives: our words. We can create a deeper sense of balance and harmony with children by being conscious of our speech. Think of the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true" reworked as "Be careful what you say, for it will come true." If you want a frenetic pace, keep talking about how frantic you are. If, instead, you want a dose of serenity and calm, speak of yourself as being peaceful and getting things done with ease. To create happier events in your life, think and speak positively. Take the high road with your words and remind your kids to do the same.

Author and teacher Jack Kornfield said, "Words have the power to destroy or heal. When words are both true and kind they can change the world." Here are some ideas on how to use the power of words in your parenting:

  • Pause before you speak to become clear on what you intend to say. Our words today can become our child's script later in life.
  • The written word has a tremendous impact. Leave uplifting words in your child's lunch box, under her pillow, in his sneaker, written in shaving cream on the bathroom mirror.
  • Gossip immediately brings down our energy, not to mention the person we are speaking about. Kids absorb everything we say and mirror our actions. Give your child a model of a parent who speaks kindly about others.
  • A mantra is a secret word or part of a sacred text that can lift us up no matter our age. Help your child select a mantra, such as "God," "light," "harmony," or "peace."
  • Teasing words can zap a child's self-esteem and dampen his spirit. Make your home safe from put-downs and damaging words. One mom made a list of words that are off limits, like "stupid," "idiot," and "hate."
  • What are the first words out of your mouth when you see your child in the morning or the end of the day? Kathy, mother of two, says, "I have always awakened my oldest child, now 5, by saying `Good morning, sunshine.' Now, with no prompting from me, she wakes up her little sister with those words in the morning. It's our morning wake-up call."
  • Play "I Spy (What God Has Made)." Point out all of God's blessings in your world. Young children are eager to participate in this word game and might surprise you with their observations.
  • Try to avoid negative labeling. When you describe your children as "the naughty one" or "the one who never listens," they tend to live up to that description.
  • An 11-year-old girl gave me the best reason to use positive words with a child:

    "My mom always tells me how happy she is I was born and not just on my birthday. She says that these have been the 11 happiest years of her life. That makes me feel totally great, especially when she says it at the end of a tough day when school has gotten me down. It's nice to go to sleep feeling that way."

    You can e-mail Mimi Doe at MiDoe@aol.com.

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