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It's Not OK

January 23, 2017
By Betsy Bethel - Editor , OVParent

When I fell down as a kid, my mom's first response usually was "Jump up! You're OK!" It may have been wishful thinking or a desire to avoid a meltdown or an attempt to instill resilience. I easily exchanged my mom's pleasant sentiments for my yucky feelings. And, as a quick-to-cry kid, I probably needed help to shake it off.

But I learned a few years ago that with my own child, saying "You're OK" when she clearly wasn't, was not OK. She needed it to be OK to feel what she was feeling - pain, embarrassment, frustration, anger, whatever. When I learned to empathize with her predicament instead of wishing it away, she actually recovered much more quickly.

In "Parentspeak" (Workman, January 2017), author Jennifer Lehr skewers familiar parent-uttered phrases, such as "You're OK," "Good job!" and "Can you say 'thank you'?" and gives parents a script for what to say instead. She also flushes the early potty training movement, slays the tickle monster and banishes the practice of removing a child's "lovey" prematurely. She bases her advice on her own experiences raising her own children (the oldest of whom is 10) and augments it with expert research.

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Some of it sounds familiar. Think Carol?Dweck's "Mindset," Heather Shumaker's "It's OK Not to Share" and Lenore Skenazy's "Free-Range Kids."

It's good to be reminded to be mindful of what we say to our kids, though. Lehr's main point: Think about what you're saying and what message it is sending. Overthinking has its pitfalls, too, but I'd rather be thoughtful than thoughtless.

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"Parentspeak" is one of the many prizes up for grabs in this month's OV Parent giveaways! Click the link for info.



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