When it comes to parenting, some of the most powerful interventions appear small and insignificant. For instance, the simple, small act of saying “thank you” to our children on a consistent basis has a powerful impact on their self-image and their behavior. Another small but powerful intervention involves the arrangement of three little letters combined into a single word.
Consider the power of three little letters arranged to spell the word “AND.” “AND” helps a child learn they can be angry AND remain polite. They can understand that they don’t enjoy doing chores AND they can still do them, even getting them done well. Or, more importantly, they can come to appreciate that you, their parent, discipline them AND you love them more than words can say. You can even be upset with them AND remain present, available, and consistent.
“AND” is good for our parenting philosophy as well. It informs us that we have a great child AND they misbehave at times, even making mistakes that require correction. We can feel bad disciplining our child AND know we discipline them because we love them and want the best for them. We can hurt for our child when they experience the consequences of poor choices AND let them experience those consequences and learn from them.
We find another powerful combination of three little letters in the word “YET.” “Yet” carries the power of hope and the potential for change. It communicates faith in our child’s ability to learn and grow. Think about it. I can’t ride a bike…YET. I can’t stand up in front of my classmates to give a speech…YET. I can’t cook…YET. I can’t drive a car…YET. “YET” transforms each of these temporary limitations into a hope, an anticipation of future success.
“YET” does the same for parents. I can’t get my children into a good bedtime routine…YET. I can’t stay calm when my children scream…YET. I can’t stand another week of on-line school…YET. Each “YET” reveals an expectation that I can learn and grow as a parent. Each “YET” communicates that I am not the parent I want to be…YET, but here is still hope. I can learn and grow. I can become a better parent…YET.
Three little letters combined into a single word with the power to transform, communicate acceptance, offer hope, and anticipate growth. Use them wisely.