May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer Psalm 19:14
Many times I’ve overheard parents of preschoolers say… ‘use your words.’ The youngster was usually expressing his frustration physically, partially because his speech development was in its early stages. He’d soon learn that words are helpful tools for expressing himself – much more effective than tantrums.
God’s Word reveals much about this topic for us, His children. Some of us have had a hard time growing our language skills past the toddler stage. We’ve had to deal with remorse for using our words to hurt, rather than to help. For most of us, family life was the environment where we learned to grow up verbally – to use our words for good.
Last time, we wrote about parents ‘using their words’ wisely. We pointed out that we use words to share our own faith walk with our kids. We encourage kids to share their spiritual discoveries freely in family times. We learn to intentionally use our words to build our children up, encouraging them with praise or gentle correction. We focus on the need to wrap our words in neutral or upbeat tones, and to forge family-time experiences so that we can lift our words together to our Heavenly Parent in praise and thanksgiving.
Here are a few ideas to choose from for strategies that may help make this happen:
~ Buy an inexpensive tube of tooth paste for each child. Let them push some of the contents onto a plate and then challenge them to devise a way they can get the paste back into the tube. Supply some tools for their attempts (spoon, straw, toothpick, etc.) and let them come up with ideas of their own. Make this fun, and end with sharing some thoughts on how the tooth paste represents our words.
~ Launch older children on a biblical treasure hunt for passages on the spoken word.
Genesis 1: God’s creative word; John 1: Jesus, the Word in human form; Psalm119: look for synonyms for God’s word; James 3:1-12: taming the tongue; Luke 6:43-45: connection between heart and spoken words – to name a few. Give time for kids to lead the group with what they learned. Create a challenge to memorize some verses from these Bible studies.
~Create a system of hand motions that family members can learn and use to alert each other to the words they’re speaking, both positive and negative. Learn the motions and begin using them when you’re at home.
~Celebrate by setting aside a time to encourage each family member to create something that illustrates one of the ideas you’ve been talking about. It could be a drawing, a poem or story, performing a song. End by using words to speak encouraging messages to each other. Allow family members to share needs relating to how they use their words, and invite prayer as a response.
Begin, my tongue some heavenly theme and speak some boundless thing:
the mighty works or mightier Name of our eternal King.
His very word of grace is strong as that which built the skies;
the voice that rolls the stars along speaks all the promises.
Oh, might I hear the heavenly tongue but whisper, ‘Thou art mine!’
Those gentle words shall raise my song to notes almost divine. (Isaac Watts)