Always & Never

“You are ALWAYS late!” “You NEVER do what you are asked.” “You are ALWAYS bothering your sister!” “You NEVER stop whining!” “Why do you NEVER come when I call you?”

Do you ever find yourself talking to your children about some of the things they do over and over again a bit like that? Do you wonder why no matter how much you point out that the same problem is going on over and over, nothing is changing?
The problem is, you are never thinking about how to talk to your kids. Plus you always forget to be patient don’t you? (How did this sentence make you feel? Defensive at all? OK, wait, read on… I don’t really mean to be mean.)

Absolute words like always and never tend to elicit negative feelings. Did that happen when you read the bit about not being patient? For most people, there is often an immediate need to jump on the defensive at the sound of those absolute words like always and never.

Our minds naturally tend to wander towards exploring the truth of those “always and never” statements and because of that, listening is totally shut down. Plus for some it can lead to just wanting to argue!  Who wants to really talk and connect after such accusations?

For much of a child’s early life, our words are building their story. When we use absolute words we inadvertently guide children towards believing in a story that may not actually be quite true. Perhaps your child pokes their sibling once in a while, enough that it bugs you, but is it really an always? The more you tell her so, the more she may believe that…and then she may as well just poke some more!

The next time you find yourself ready to fire off one of those “You are ALWAYS late” can you try to think about what you can do to help or change the situation in a positive way instead?

Ask yourself this: is this really an ALWAYS or NEVER situation?  Is it something that could change with a little problem solving?

What happens if you focus on the things that you can change or ways that you can empower your child to change?
What if you try to make observations that are more fact or solution based?

For example if your child is sometimes late:  “I noticed it is  taking you a bit long to get ready to go to school, can we figure something out together so we can all be on time?” or “Oh, we are behind schedule.  What do you still need to get done before you are ready?”

Observations and opening a chance for dialogue is really a wonderful step towards truly connecting with our children. Those absolute words really just get in the way.  Yes, it’s hard to rewrite our script and erase those absolute words, so, don’t feel like you can never say never ever again or that you always have to get it right, but will try to avoid them and see if there is a difference?

Ok, so tell me, what are the things that are driving you to say ALWAYS and NEVER?

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

7 Responses to Always & Never

  1. This is such a great post. You are so right hat i felt quite defensive reading always and never. I’ll have to check my words from now on. I’m sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.

  2. It’s really amazing how it can have that effect isn’t it? Thank you for sharing on the board!!

  3. this post was featured on the Sunday Parenting Party – please grab an I was featured button from my button page if you’d like one.

  4. I know you’ve already got the button but I think its nice to let you know you’ve been featured AGAIN – I can’t resist it, your posts are just so great

  5. Unconditional love; even in the face of disobedience and great dtsmppoiniaent.We need to convey to our children that while we may not uphold them in wrong doing, they always have our undying love and support, no matter what they do or don’t do.If everyone knew they were guaranteed this one sure thing, personal growth and redemption would not be so difficult for so many people when they stray from the right path in life. Love covers a multitude of sins! God is love. If he can forgive me, his child, anything; so much more should I be able to forgive the child that he gave life through me. I just don’t understand people who withold love or permanently disown their children for any reason.

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