Mean what you say and say what you mean....
Theses are words to live by!
This is also one of my most powerful tools with children. Once they learn that you actually say what you mean and mean what you say, behavior changes.
The language we use is a significant part of our behavior. It is important that the words we speak match our actions. Do yours?
On a grand scale, I am sure they do.
On a small scale, I am sure you can do better. That is because we can all do better with matching our language with our actions on a small scale.
When interacting with other big beings (adults), small discrepancies in our language and actions are rationalized, understood and forgiven. If you have a meeting at 4 pm and get arrive at 4:15, another adult may understand.
When interacting with small beings (kids), small discrepancies are a huge deal. They can not understand or rationalize or forgive the difference between what you say and what you do. When this difference occurs they lose trust in your words. They begin to listen to your actions more loudly than your words. Small beings will also begin to test your words with their actions and this can lead to behavior that is less than desirable.
Ever have a small being ask you for candy? Here is what might happen if your language and actions do not match on a small scale. Initially you say no. There, that no, is your language. The reason and the rational are not the important part. The important part is that you the words you used conveyed that no candy would be given at this time to this being. You could have said yes but did not in this situation. Then the small being starts to have some persuasive behavior: maybe whining about wanting candy or crying or negotiating or yelling. Eventually you want that behavior to stop so you give the small being candy. We have all done this in one form or another.
Behaviorally, look at how the language (saying no) did not match the actions (giving candy). As big beings we can use fancy language and big psychological terms to understand why that change happened. Yet, small beings don't think through the situation in the same way, regardless of their age and mental capabilities to understand. They learn that words and actions did not match and will start to follow the actions. To the small being they asked for candy, were told no, then whined/cried/yelled and then got it. This pattern is more likely to occur again the next time you say no. As in, this small being is more likely to whine/cry/yell next time they ask for something and are told no.
A different possibility, what if this small being had already learned that you mean what you say and say what you mean? When you said no to the request for candy, that your actions will support these words and you will not be giving any candy out. You may get a very different response. The small being is less likely to cry, whine, negotiate or yell if he or she already knows that your words (no) will match your actions (not giving candy). As all kids like to test limits at times, you may get some undesirable behavior. However the scope, severity and frequency will be much less.
One side note, WHAT you say is as significant as that you said it. If you give a small being a yes, then follow through and have your actions support the yes. If you give a small being a no, then follow through and have your actions support the no. It is not about judging the decision. It is about sticking to what you said. Once the small beings in your life learn that you mean what you say and say what you mean, then you can work on what the decisions are. For now, just work on sticking to the choice that you happened to say first...even when you are not sure it is the best choice.
Actions truly do speak louder than words. Imagine what it would be like if they were equally as loud in your life because they support each other!
How to apply this to your life today: First, notice the small moments when your words and actions are not in alignment. Then pick one instance when you are going to mean what you say and say what you mean fully. Make sure you have the energy and time to really stick to what you say. Then pick one more instance to say what you mean and mean what you say. Slowly your behavior will start to change and you will begin to have your words and your actions match. Can't wait to hear how that then impacts the small beings in your world!