Relationships are both the most rewarding and most challenging thing about family. The relationship between a husband and wife, between siblings, or between parent and child are essentially what make up a family. Major life stressors, coupled with the everyday mundane such as chores, bills, teasing, boredom, and appointments can cause strains in those relationships. Even the most loving families can find themselves snapping at each other or just ignoring each other and growing apart.
As a mom, days can become scripted:
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“I think you need a shower today.”
“Say sorry to your brother.”
“Pick up your jacket.”
“Who did this?”
“The last time I checked, there was no one named ‘Not Me’ living here.”
“No, you cannot have ice cream at 8 in the morning.”
“Actually, that does not make me a mean mom. It makes me a mom who cares about your health.”
“Please stop arguing.”
“Can you please empty the dishwasher?”
“Did you remember to flush the toilet?”
“Get your shoes on…no wait…get your socks on first, then your shoes. We’ve got to get going.”
“What do you mean you forgot to put your hearing aids in?”
“We’ll turn around.”
“Stay with me when we get in the store.”
“No, you cannot stay in the van while I go in.”
“Stop bugging your sister.”
“I don’t know yet what’s for lunch but I’ll think of something.”
“Well where was it the last time you saw it?”
“I’ll help you look when I’m finished making lunch.”
“Take deep breaths…in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
“Give your brother back his pencil.”
“Put the cat down.”
And that’s just the morning…
When I really stop to think about what my kids are hearing from me the majority of the time, it’s not overwhelmingly positive or affirming. I don’t want their childhood memories to contain the background noise of a nagging mom.
While those reminders and corrections may be necessary, encouragements are even more critical. I want my kids to grow up hearing truths that uplift them. The quote about how as a mom, you will someday be the voice in your adult child’s head? I want that voice to be one that praises, not one that tears down.
Today I’m sharing with you two little words that have the power to transform your whole family. They have begun to forge new patterns of communication for us and changed the overall tone in our home.
- I appreciate you speaking kindly to your sister.
- I appreciate you taking the garbage out this morning. That helps our whole family.
- I appreciate you.
- I appreciate your smile.
- I appreciate you helping me.
- I appreciate your giving heart.
- I appreciate that you did that without grumbling.
- I appreciate that I can count on you.
- I appreciate what you did for your brother.
- I appreciate how generous you are.
- I appreciate you taking initiative. When you saw a need, you jumped right in to meet it.
These two simple words are not effective only for your kids. They can do wonders for your marriage too! I don’t know of one wife or husband who wouldn’t want to feel more appreciated. And when the kids see mom and dad getting along better, they feel more secure, which helps them to make better choices, which cuts down on the conflict in the home. It’s a cycle.
Positivity is infectious. It spreads through a household slowly but as it takes on steam, it becomes stronger, and soon, it is affecting every relationship in the house.
Stick a Post-It note where you’ll see it. Put them up all over the house if you need extra reminders. Write on it: “2 words”. Don’t actually write what the words are so that your kids don’t catch on to your little experiment!
At first, it may seem forced and unnatural, but if you commit to giving this challenge a try, you will find that as you are looking harder for the positives in your kids and your spouse, that will even transform your attitude. Add to that that when you do this consistently enough, your kids will begin mimicking you and finding positives to say to EACH OTHER and you will see a noticeable change in the air in your home. The tone will change as everyone begins to see more positives not only in each other, but also in themselves.
These words will begin to encourage your family members to make better choices as they see that their good behaviour and choices are being noticed and validated. They will realize the contribution they make and that it matters.
There will be less arguing, more cooperation and more initiative taken to serve the others in the family. Since I started using these words with intention and purpose, I have seen that my kids are using them too. Not only are they speaking them to their siblings, but occasionally to me. My son, Einstein, said to me the other day, “Mom, I really appreciate all that you do for us. There’s no one I’d rather have as my mom than you.” It was a good moment.
I’m not saying that this is going to be easy. We have a large family including many children with special needs that include challenging behavioural issues. We have younger kids, tweens and teens. There are hard moments and hard days. Sometimes when too many hard days happen in a row, it can seem utterly overwhelming and I feel like I am failing at this mothering thing. But these two words, when I put them into practise and used liberally, are helping to turn things around. They are helping all of us to get out of the negative speaking patterns that we had become accustomed to.
Don’t believe that these two little words are as powerful as I’m saying they are?
Women, text your husband “I appreciate you working hard for our family.” or “I appreciate knowing that you are on this journey with me.”
Men, call your wife and say, “I appreciate all the work you do for our family. I may not tell you often enough, but what you do matters.”
Parents, look your child in the eye and say, “I appreciate who you are and what you add to our family. You are a treasure.”
I think you will have a positive reaction. Once you start using these two words more often, they will begin to fell more natural and the results will only compound. Give it a try and let me know what you discover.
Just as words have the power to transform, they also have the power to destroy. I’ve also written recently about the two words you need to stop saying today if you want to find happiness.