The words, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” have been coming out of my mouth a lot lately.
My 5 year old has discovered the joy of tormenting her younger sister. Besides chasing her sister when she doesn’t want to be chased or poking and hitting, she has also started putting her down.
Anytime my 3 year old says something to her father and I, my oldest responds with something like, “that’s not great,” or “I can do that better.” Usually followed my a dramatic eye roll.
I also hear my 5 year old telling her sister that she is a baby or telling her she doesn’t want to play with her.
It kind of puts me in this automatic protective mommy mode, which feels weird because they are both my children.
I know my job is to teach my oldest to be loving and encouraging to her sister, but I actually get really peeved when she can’t say anything nice to her.
My 3 year old usually ends up in tears. Which, I can admit is about 80% of the time due to her knowing how to milk me and knowing it makes me more sympathetic to her plight.
But, as a parent, how do I ensure I don’t end up damaging one to build up the other.
For example, the other day my 3 year old was crying because her feeling were hurt by her older sister. Her little lower lip curled and fat tears running down her face.
The first thing I said (snapped) was “don’t listen to your sister, she is just mean.”
I then realized, that as a mom, these are probably not the best choice of words. My 5 year old is now sad because her mom is calling her mean. Which in turn probably caused her to resent her younger sister even more.
Teaching our kids to use kind words to each other is hard when we aren’t doing the same.
Telling them that if they don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all, is great lip service, but as a parent I need to practice what I preach.
The only way they are going to learn how to treat each other is through my actions and my words.
They are so impressionable. I can tell you my oldest probably learned some of her behaviors from me. I’m not always full of positive vibes.
I also need to remember that as they get older they are absorbing more. So when her father and I are talking about our days and we are complaining, she is seeing this.
Don’t get me wrong, my favorite person to complain to is my husband. We get each other and are usually on the same page. I’m just saying maybe saving these sessions for when the kids are playing in the other room. Leaving it out of our dinner time discussions.
It’s hard being a parent. Biting my tongue is not one of my strong suites. But, I really don’t want my kids to be the ones who use their words to hurt others.
As we enter Holy Week, the last stretch of Lent, I really need to take this time to reflect on my role as a parent and what values I want to instill in my children. We only get one chance to raise our kids.
This is why I need to take every opportunity I can to teach them to love each other, be patient with each other and to be kind.