Teaching Children to Talk

A father is a full-time teacher.

Listen to your father, who gave you life.

Proverbs 23:22a

It’s great to be a dad. One of the things I wish I had done when my son and daughter were young is to keep a journal of all the funny things they said.

Play was an important part of our family and still is. While chasing my young son around the house he ran down the hallway and jumped spread-eagle on his bed. Lying perfectly still, he said, “Look dad! I’m sterilized!”

Knowing he meant to say, “paralyzed” I had to get his mother to come hear this for herself! We still laugh about it.

On another occasion, my young daughter and I were at her doctor’s office waiting for her doctor to come into the exam room. There was a smaller exam room that doubled as a lavatory within this room so she stepped inside to use the restroom.

As she came out of the little exam room she proudly said, “Ha! Dad, you couldn’t hear me!”

With a quizzical look I said, “Well, actually I could.”

In disbelief she said, “No, I know you couldn’t hear me.”

“What makes you think I couldn’t hear you?” I asked.

“It’s an ultrasound room!” She proudly replied.

Sure enough, that is what the sign said.

I think other patients could hear me laughing.

If only these moments of hilarity had been recorded!

Art Linkletter was right to title his book, Kids Say the Darndest Things!

It is important to teach our children to communicate clearly. In one of his bits, comedian Steven Martin suggested that parents play a joke on their kids and “teach them how to talk wrong.” So, when they raise their hand at school to ask to go to the bathroom they would say, “Mumble go dogface in the banana patch.”

Many found this funny because of its absurdity. No rational parent would teach his or her children to “talk wrong;” at least not intentionally.

Unintentionally, parents may give their children a vocabulary that is filled with words that embarrass them when spoken in public. It should be embarrassing to parents for their children to pick up “foul language” (Eph. 4:29 HCSB) from anyone, especially them. In the same way, parents should be embarrassed if their kids talk negatively, speak mean-spirited, and laugh at those who are different than them or speak with racial hatred. Anyone who talks like this is revealing a deeper problem.

Parents should be more concerned about their children’s hearts than of being embarrassed by what they say. Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Mt. 12:34)

What about your words? What do they reveal about your heart?

·      Pride?

·      Impatience?

·      Anger?

·      Hatred?

·      Immaturity?

·      Lack of self-control?

·      Lack of faith?

·      Or maybe, lack of God’s Spirit in your heart?

Children are commanded by God to honor their parents (Eph. 6:1) and are considered wise when they listen. (Prov. 15:20)

When your children listen to you, what do they hear?

·      Constant negativity and criticism?

·      Comparison of them to others?

·      Non-stop lecturing?

Or do your children hear:

·      You prayers?

·      You reading God’s word?

·      You telling others about Jesus?

·      You being grateful?

·      You encouraging them?

·      Your reassurance?

·      You telling them that nothing could make you stop loving them?

Parenting is one of the greatest privileges God has given us. No parent is perfect. No matter how hard parents have tried, when the children leave the home likely, every parent wishes they could have somehow done better.

If you have torn down, rather than built up with your words its time to own it. Whatever age your child may be, you may need to say something like this:

“What daddy said was wrong. Even though I am your dad, it was still wrong. I am sorry for what I said and have asked God to forgive me and I want to ask you to forgive me too. I love you and I want to be the best daddy I can be.”

The results of such humility and transparency include regaining the respect and trust of your child. They will know you are a man of integrity and that you are the real deal. And when you correct them they will know how to admit what they have done wrong and ask for forgiveness as well because they learned it from their hero – YOU!

How do I know this works?

It has worked for me.

Everyday parents are teaching their children how to talk.

Let’s say something worth hearing.

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