My daughter shares my tendency to enjoy staying up late and sleeping in. One morning last summer, I woke her up because we had somewhere to be early and went into the bathroom. A few minutes later, when I again passed by her room, I saw her sitting at the edge of her bed, staring off into space. When I had a job that required me to catch an early bus, I used to do the same thing. Unfortunately, that day, I snapped at her to get her moving rather than using positive phrases.
As parents, we can’t walk on eggshells around our children, but we should always be conscious of how we speak to them. My daughter and her mother have been having a tough time communicating of late, often getting into arguments as they both try to get out of the house on time. Still, as the parents it is our responsibility to ensure that we start our kids’ days off the right way.
While covering a story for another publication in Washington, D.C., I stayed with a friend and his family. Their days started at around 5:30 A.M., an ungodly hour for night owls like me and my daughter. Yet, rather than rushing their six year-old son through his morning hygiene and breakfast, she always addressed him in a soft, tone using encouraging language rather than defaulting to impatience.
“Come on,” she almost cooed as he dilly-dallied over breakfast (mostly talking to me), “finish your breakfast, so you can feel good today.” The boy stopped talking and ate a few more bites, almost as if his mother had used a Jedi mind-trick. So when I next had to rouse my sleepy child early, I tried the same approach.
My daughter spends an inordinate amount of time on her hair and feels a sense of personal pride styling it herself. Rather than popping my head in after fifteen minutes and saying, “It’s fine; let’s go,” I simply stood silently until she noticed me. “Wow, your hair looks great.” After a few minutes, she set the brush down and started gathering her things.
Morning and late-night routines can be trying, but also can be rewarding time with your children. With school and work, any time we get should be treated as precious. Rather than chiding children for being late, tell them instead you wish you could drag out the morning too, if only to spend time with them, but we have responsibilities. Children are often far more understanding when given explanations beyond “because I said so.”
One other side effect of starting the day using positive phrases is that it also affects your mood throughout the day as well. And who among us couldn’t use a little more positivity in our lives?