How we speak to students matters…

I remember when I first became a teacher the best piece of advice I received was to love and respect the kids for who they are and it would be easier to teach them. I can’t remember who gave me such sage advice, but I am so thankful that I took it to heart. 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – Theodore Roosevelt

Our first task when working with children is to earn their trust. We do this by showing them that we care and that they matter to us. Think about yourself, how do you feel when someone compliments or affirms you? It makes you feel 10ft tall and like you can conquer the world. We have the ability to make our students feel like that everyday throughout the day. 

When you think about it, teachers are with students almost as much and sometimes more than parents, so we all need to be responsible for building up our future generation. By filling them with loving, kind words we can create a more positive environment. 

What words do we want to fill students with? Positive. Life-giving. Confidence building. Belief. Growth. Love. 

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara

I’m sure you may have seen the picture floating around that shows words written all over a child to give a visual to the importance of choosing your words wisely when talking to children.

Words have weight. If we don’t choose our words carefully, the students suffer. If we withhold our words we miss opportunities to help students see in themselves what we already see. The more positive words students hear, the more positive their outlook overall. On the other hand, the more negative or neutral words students hear, the more down and depressed their outlook becomes. 

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” – Brooke Hampton

In today’s world of mental health crisis and rising suicide rates, we have the responsibility to do everything in our power to combat those issues. This may seem like a daunting task, one too big for us to take on. We can start small, by just choosing our words and speaking positively to children everyday. 

We as educators and parents have the important role of building students up. We actually have the power to increase their self-esteem and their confidence level. By breathing belief into students we actually expand their mind and what they believe they can do. 

So you may be wondering, what should I say? 

The first rule of thumb is kinda obvious…it has to be authentic and truthful. Kids can read through fake, generic talk which defeats the purpose. 

Second, you should compliment or affirm the student’s skills, effort, or strengths instead of the results.

Third, you need to pair it with their name. The sweetest thing a person can hear is their own name, and it makes compliments and affirmations mean that much more when the two are put together. 

When speaking to students, really anyone for that matter, what we say and how we say it have the power to make all the difference in the world. Your every word has the power to build up a child…are you ready to take control of how you speak? 

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