I love my dad but he has a red hot temper. When he gets fired up about something he can say some nasty things. As a child I was affected deeply by the things he would say. My sister said something interesting to him once after he apologized for saying some hurtful things to her in the heat of an argument. She said, “I forgive you but I won’t be able to forget what you said.” My dad has taken that statement to heart and has worked on thinking before saying anything he wouldn’t want his kids to remember.
According to a study by Martin H. Teicher, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues, “Vissing et al. found that 63% of American parents reported one or more instances of verbal aggression, such as swearing at and insulting their child. Children who were the target of frequent verbal aggression exhibited higher rates of physical aggression, delinquency, and interpersonal problems than other children.” As parents, we are among the most important people in our children’s lives. When choosing how we speak to our children we should remember the impact we can have on them.
We all find ourselves in situations where our patience is tried. Kids are hard! I find it helpful to keep a broader perspective when I’m tempted to say something to my child I would regret. In twenty years will it matter that I made my point and got my child to listen to me or will it matter more that my child remembers me as making her feel secure and loved? Practice pausing before speaking next time you’re upset with your child and think about the impact what you say will have. It may change the way you communicate with your kids.