After six days away, I got comfortable in my seat for my flight home. As always, after taking off, the pilot shared some details about the trip with us. People groaned when he told us it was expected to be 100° when we landed – and that was scheduled to be 9:30 pm!

The heat was very noticeable when I got to my car that night and during my first day home. The second day, its intensity couldn’t be denied. At the end of the day, I learned why. The official high was 107°. That’s hot. Very hot!

When shopping that afternoon, a clerk wanted to engage me in a discussion about how miserable the weather was. I couldn’t join in by complaining.

Why? Although I was hot and miserable, that didn’t control me.

A few days before this encounter, our Celebrate Kids email newsletter was sent out to our readers. In it, I wrote, “When it’s hot, some people complain. This winter, those same people will complain that it’s cold. Why? As friends and I say, we chose to live in Fort Worth so we’ll have many summer days of 100°. We shouldn’t be surprised and complaining doesn’t help.”

When at the store, the phrase complaining doesn’t help kept reverberating in my mind. Our words matter. Our self-talk greatly matters. What we say out loud and to ourselves influences our thought life. Our thoughts influence our behavior.

This isn’t just my opinion or experience. Have you realized this is true for you, too? It’s not just us – research supports it.

Children (and adults) who speak what’s right are more likely to do what’s right. Read that again. It’s encouraging, isn’t it?

If you want your children to do what’s right, encourage them to verbalize their plans. Or, as I did, they could write down what they intend to do.

  • I will be kind even if there’s no guarantee other kids will be kind.
  • I will speak up when others aren’t being treated fairly.
  • I won’t whine and complain because it doesn’t help. If I need help, I’ll ask for it.
  • I will do my best because it honors God.
  • I will pay more attention to what I can do than to what I can’t do.
  • I will remember to express gratitude.
  • I will choose joy.

Expressing goals or expectations compels us to follow through. When we do, we have integrity – a very powerful motivation. It’s internal and we’re not always consciously aware of its draw.

Expressed thoughts lead to actions.

Actions lead to thoughts.

Expressed thoughts reinforce actions.

Actions reinforce thoughts.

It’s a powerful cycle.

Remember – it’s the expressing of the thoughts that’s important. Having them isn’t enough. How can knowing this influence you this week? What might you want to say out loud? How and when could you talk with your children about this? What can you encourage them to say out loud? Then, how can you follow through to find out if they honored their word with their actions and how they felt?

In addition to our children doing this, let’s tell ourselves out loud what we’ll do this week. I’d love to know how it goes.