So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

I stay home with my three munchkins, ages 5, 4, and 2, and even though I’m not currently getting paid to use my degree, I still use it (without pay) everyday. I studied Early Childhood Education for three out of my six years of college (Yep. Six. Super smart.).

Some aspects of motherhood you can’t learn in a classroom — like how to read minds or how to put babies on a schedule AND attend church regularly. However, there is one strategy that has undoubtedly shaped the way I parent and helped me mold these little people into exactly what they are: future adults. And ideally, future adults who OTHER adults enjoy being around.

“Use Your Words”

If you’re around parents, you hear this phrase all the time, which instructs kids to use their words to SAY what they want as opposed to inflicting physical harm, screeching, or whining. This makes sense. . . IF the child knows WHICH words to use.

Not only do our children need to use their words, but they need to use the RIGHT words by teaching them what is not appropriate and replacing that with what is. Verbatim.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about followed by the exact script I use with my kids —

 Sharing

I know sometimes the easiest way to handle sharing is to say, “You can play with it for one more minute, then it’s his turn.” While this isn’t bad, it’s also important to provide kids with suitable language to politely express what they want so they learn how to share without adult intervention.

Child 1: “BUT I WANT THAT AND SHE WON’T LET ME HAVE IT. GIVE IT TO ME!!”
Child 2: “NO! I’M PLAYING WITH IT RIGHT NOW!”
Mom to Child 1: “If you want to play with it, say, ‘May I please play with that when you’re done playing with it?’ and then find something else to play with until then.”
Pause for child to repeat.

Mom to Child 2: “Say, ‘Sure. I’ll let you have it as soon as I’m done!'” 
Pause for child to repeat.

Then emphasize to Child 2 that he/she would not want to have to wait a long time if the roles were reversed (a lesson in empathy). If age appropriate, you can also discuss how you would be more likely to share if someone asked you nicely, rather than yelled at you.

Hurting Feelings/Being Unkind

This is when it’s tempting to jump in and save the day. But because we won’t always be there to rescue them, we need to teach them (a) how to stand up for themselves if their feelings are hurt and (b) how to apologize if they are doing the hurting.

Child 1: MoooooooooOOOOOM! She shoved me!
Mom to Child 1: Then look at her and say, “Please don’t push me. It hurts my feelings when you do that.”
Mom to Child 2: Why did you push her?
Child 2: Because she wouldn’t let me get by.
Mom to Child 2: When we need to get by, we say, “Excuse me. May I please get through?” 
Mom to Child 1: And when she says that, you move out of the way.
Then reenact the RIGHT way with both children and talk about how much smoother it went.

Y’all, 80% of the time, we are still going through this script together because they’re just being punks. We have been doing these since they were itty bitty, and STILL, they have complete rage black outs and all rationale escapes them. However, even with Hayes (who just turned two), I see glimpses of understanding. And the 20% of the time they DO remember the scripts (I’m being generous with that number) our home runs SO smoothly, and I can see the light at the end of the toddler tunnel.

When They Want Something

This script is repeated 74,573 times a day.

Child 1 (nasal whining): SNAAAAAAAAAAAAACK. HUUUUUUUUUUNGRY!
Dad to Child 1: How about we lose the whine and say, “May I please have a snack, Dad? I’m hungry.”

Even if the child can’t repeat the entire sentence, the focus is more on losing the whiny tone and replacing it with something more pleasant to the ear.

There are a million more (like apologizing, oy vey, or the DO IT MYSELF script), but these are the words I repeat most often.

Remembering these responses will take a LOT of practice which means consistency is key. If you only ask them to use their manners once every five times, it will take a lot longer to click (if ever).

It’s so important to show them, by literally getting down to their level and walking them through step by step, the appropriate way to interact with others. Not only so we don’t lose our ever-loving minds but, more importantly, so that in the future they have the appropriate social skills to make good friends. And keep them.

Jordan Harrell

Jordan writes about the days with her three kids and wonderful husband to help her get through the days with her three kids and wonderful husband. She's really good at eating chocolate, over-analyzing everything, and forgetting stuff. In 2017, Jordan founded fridaynightwives.com, a blog and boutique that serves as a ministry for coaches' wives. You can find her at jordanharrell.comFacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, I’m Giving You My Baby

In: Kids
newborn baby swaddled and sleeping

I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, and you couldn’t have been more wonderful. You caught her eye from across the playground and immediately waved. You greeted her by name with a warm smile, and you were totally OK (encouraging, even) with me hanging around for a while before actually leaving her. You looked me in the eye, smiled and greeted me happily, and pretended not to notice when I started tearing up while introducing myself. (Thank you for that.) My daughter was the first of your students to arrive, and you chatted with her...

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Messy with Imagination and I Want to Remember It All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toys on bedroom floor

Sometimes I take random photos on my phone of my son’s bedroom or what he has built with his LEGOs. I do this because I know how quickly things change while he is this young. What he builds with LEGOs is always evolving, becoming more intricate and sophisticated. When I look around his room and see everything that is there, it’s like a snapshot of the season we are in. And all I want to do is capture each season. Capture what life looks like for us, for him. I envision showing him these photos when he is grown, maybe...

Keep Reading

God Bless the Middle School Teachers Who Love Our Tweens and Teens

In: Kids, Teen, Tween
Middle school students smiling

I keep seeing articles about kindergartners heading off to school for the first time, and parents are feeling all the things kindergarten parents feel. I’ve been a middle school teacher for my entire career, and I know for sure that middle school parents are feeling all the feelings too. We teachers are ready to receive your babies in middle school too. In our neck of the woods, middle school starts in sixth grade. Fifth graders were at the top of the pyramid in elementary school, but they arrive in middle school as the little ones. In the eyes of the...

Keep Reading

6 Things the Parent of a Child With Medical Needs Learns

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child holding baby doll

My 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months before her 2nd birthday. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to watch her blood glucose levels and a pump that administers insulin. Before these amazing pieces of medical technology, we were pricking her fingers up to 10 times a day and giving insulin injections at about the same rate—ouch! There are many parents out there with children with special medical needs. One mom I know has to give her autistic son enemas every day because of digestive issues. Another mom has a child with highly specialized dietary...

Keep Reading

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.