The words we speak and the words we don’t speak change lives. Absolutely! I’ve taught this for a long time.

Lately, I’ve been talking with parents and teachers more about listening closely to the words their children speak. They change lives, too. This might be especially true of the words they speak to themselves.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I believe children have 8 smarts and should be told they’re smart when there’s evidence to support it. This is one way we can speak the truth to them and encourage them to refer to themselves accurately, too.

For instance, they can be encouraged to say, “I did well because I used my picture-smart ability.” vs. “I did well because this was easy.” And, “I was able to pay attention in music today because I’ve chosen to awaken more of that smart.” vs. “I was good in music today.”

Here are two more situations that might occur for you as school begins. I hope these examples equip you to listen for lies and have conversations that result in truth. If you hear your children lie to themselves about themselves, you must be bold and honest and correct them. Accurate answers to the identity question “Who am I?” are essential to children (and us) living healthy lives with integrity.

Child: I’m so stupid!

Parent: Why do you think so?

Child: Isn’t it obvious? I just tripped over that rug that’s always there.

Parent: You’re not stupid. Maybe you were in a hurry and not as careful as you could have been. But, you’re not stupid. Get it? We want you to speak truth to yourself. How would you now reword your statement?

Child: I guess I tripped over the rug because I wasn’t paying attention.

Parent: Thank you. I agree.

Or how about this situation…

Child: That bad grade isn’t my fault! Our teacher is just mean and hard.

Parent: So, you had nothing to do with your grade?

Child: No.

Parent: I disagree. You told me the morning of the test that you had forgotten to study. I think you earned the grade by your choice to forget.

Child: I just forgot. I didn’t mean to.

Parent: Maybe not, but we’ve been telling you that all behavior is based on choice. It was your choice to not take your schoolwork seriously and remember what you had been told. Understand? How would you now reword your statement?

Child: Maybe … because I forgot to study for my test, I did not do well.

Parent: Thank you. We could add, “I will work on being more responsible.”

Child: Okay. I guess. I was also thinking I’d talk with my teacher and let her know I know more than the test shows. I don’t want her to think I’m stupid or something.

Parent: Great idea! I’m sure you would have done better if you would have studied.

You can do this. You can listen today and tomorrow for truths to affirm and lies to correct. The more you do it now, the less you’ll have to do it later. Ready, get set, go!