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September/ October 1999 - Volume 2 - Issue 7

One of the Five powerful Parenting Tools from
"The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children"
By Steven W. Vannoy

Did someone you know grow up with messages like these?

  • "Do you think money grows on trees?"
  • "Why don't you use your head? You never stop to think."
  • "You're driving me crazy!"

There are really only two kinds of messages. They either hurt and diminish another or they empower.

Not all messages are verbal. A pat, a hug, a smile - all offer helpful love messages. Frowning, rolling our eyes, a spank or turning away only reinforce in children how bad we think they are or how much we disapprove of them - keeping them focused on the undesirable behavior and practically insuring they continue it since we go toward what we focus on.

Find one desirable behavior in your child to compliment each day. You can enhance about any quality you want in your children when you find it and acknowledge it with appropriate messages. Do you want your children to have the gift of patience, responsibility, caring, honesty? What a difference you can make if you always treat your children not as they might be at that moment, but as you know they can be.

As author Matthew Fox said so beautifully, "Unhealthy families remind each other of their failing; healthy families remind each other of their goodness."

Here's a suggestion for using this tool. Take a moment to taste your words before you spit them out. Ask yourself, What is the real message I'm about to send? A mother in one of our seminars summed up this concept so well when she said, "If I don't want to hear it, I don't want to say it."

Other Parenting Tools by Steven Vannoy featured in PresidioNews: Listen

For further information about the Messages tool and how to use it with children of all ages, see Chapter 2 of "The 10 Greatest Gifts I give My Children," by Steven W. Vannoy, available in most bookstores and libraries.

Excerpts reprinted by permission of: 10 Greatest Gifts Project, P.O. Box 1140, Morrison, CO 80465;  Phone: 1-800-569-1877

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