Macy and Mackenzie were pretending to be horses and cowgirls. That was great, but the noise level just kept getting louder and louder. When I told them to quiet down, Macy didn’t get the message (or couldn’t hear it), so I said, “Macy, use your inside voice.”“I’m not an inside boy, Nanna, I’m an inside girl,” she shot back with a confused and hurt look on her face. How dare I call her a boy!
Me: “No, honey, I said use your inside voice.”Macy: (getting perturbed) “Nanna, I am not an inside boy! I’m an inside girl!”
Me: (laughing) “Macy, I know you’re a girl. I was telling you to talk in a quiet voice.”Macy: (smiling) “Oh, okay.”
And she did…for a little while, at least.Macy Scout isn’t the only child to misunderstand what was said to her; to hear something completely different than what was actually said or intended. But often times these misunderstandings aren’t nearly as simple to fix…or funny.
When you say “No, not that way”, your child hears “You can’t do anything right”.When you say “Why can’t you be like…”, your child hears “You aren’t good enough.”
When you say “I don’t have time”, your children hear “You are not a priority”.When you say…well, hopefully you get the picture.
I know first-hand that sometimes our children don’t get the right message even when we say everything in the right way—as was the case with Macy Scout. But more often than not, as parents, we need to be more mindful of both what we say and how we say it.