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