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4 Steps for Teaching Children to Tame Their Tongue

I told you, stop that sound right now!

Tsk! Don't you talk to me like that!

No! I'm not doing that!

Ugh!! You're so annoying!

These are all things that have recently come out of my 7 and 5 year old daughters' mouths. And believe you me, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Those of you with daughters know that with little girls comes big drama, and often times big attitude.

It's times like these when the knees of my trousers get just a tad more worn out than other times, since I'm on my knees pleading for patience, mercy and wisdom!

The sassy mouths of our kids can become a big problem if we don't act quickly. We have made it clear to our children that disrespect for authority, particularly parental authority, will not be tolerated. So over the years we've tried a myriad of things to try and re-direct the sassy outbursts when they arrive.

I'll ask you to read the rest of this post with a bit of grace, as I don't want to give you an impression that my husband and I have things all figured out by any stretch. But these are ideas/thoughts/tips that have helped us along the way in helping our kiddos tame their tongues.

1. Repeat the statement in an appropriate way. If the sassy-bossing is directed towards a sibling or friend, it is often because the child is not happy with the current situation. (Hey! Get out the way!... That's my seat, move it!...I want the pink one!) Ask the child if that is the way we are supposed to talk to each other. (No). Start with an apology to the "offended" party. Then have the child re-state their request in a polite way, with polite words.

2. Immediate consequence for back talking to a parent/teacher/authority figure. Once your children know what is expected of them in terms of talking to you, and other adult authority figures, you must hold them to that expectation. Once your child back talks, you need to enforce an immediate consequence. I'm not going to tell you what method of discipline/consequence you should use - that's between you, your spouse, and God. For us, a time-out works great at this stage of our family's life; so does losing a beloved item/activity for a period of time. Enact this consequence every time your child talks back. Every. Time.

3. Memorize Scripture with your child(ren) dealing with speech and attitude of the heart. God's Word is living and active. Learn and memorize the verses that address the tongue, speech, and the attitude with which we should live. Make it fun! Put them to music; use hand motions; make crafts/posters displaying the verses and put them around your home. Some great verses might include: Psalm 119:171-173, Proverbs 12:18, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 22:11, Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29. Of course, there are many others, but these are some of my favorites.

4. Set a Good Example. Ouch. So many times I hear my daughters giving out to - scolding - each other. When I go to "discipline" them for their behavior, I realize they are only doing what they have learned...from watching me! Yes, I need to enforce consequences, hold them accountable, and help redirect their behavior but I need to be very careful with the tone of voice in which I do that, the body language, and facial expressions I use! More and more I realize how my children are little mirrors of me and my husband, reflecting both the beauty and the flaws. It is up to us, sweet Mamas, to make sure we are modeling the behavior, words, actions and attitudes we expect our children to display. I'll say it again...ouch. Excuse me while I go back to #3 and re-read those verses...

What things have you found helpful in guiding your kiddos to tame their tongues (or your own!)?

Blessings, Jen

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