As parents, our primary goal is to raise children who feel loved, connected, and capable of navigating the complexities of life with confidence and self-awareness.

However, in the pursuit of this goal, it’s essential to reflect on our parenting styles and the impact they have on our children’s mental and emotional well-being.

Linda Murphy, in her insightful book “The Declarative Language Handbook,” offers a transformative perspective on communication that can significantly alter the way we interact with our children, for their benefit and ours.

Understanding Declarative Language

At its core, declarative language involves communicating in a way that invites children into a conversation, encouraging them to think independently and participate in the problem-solving process.

Unlike imperative language, which involves direct commands and can inadvertently put pressure on children, declarative language fosters a sense of collaboration and mutual respect. Murphy suggests that this approach helps develop a child’s internal motivation and curiosity about the world around them.

The Impact of Demands on Childhood Development

Frequent demands and a command-oriented communication style can lead to increased stress levels in children. This is because constant directives spike cortisol, a stress hormone, and condition children to wait for instructions rather than exploring and learning through their own initiatives. Over time, this can diminish their self-awareness and hinder their ability to make decisions independently as adults.

Building Connections Through Awareness and Love

By adopting a declarative language approach, parents can create a nurturing environment where children feel valued and understood. This method doesn’t just communicate what needs to be done but also why it’s important, encouraging children to consider their actions’ implications and consequences. It’s about giving children the space to express themselves and be active participants in their learning and development process.

Practical Tips for Implementing Declarative Language

  1. Invite Participation: Instead of saying, “Clean your room,” try framing it as, “I notice your room looks a bit crowded. How do you think we can organize it better?”
  2. Encourage Thinking: Ask open-ended questions like, “What do you think will happen if we water this plant every day?”
  3. Foster Independence: Instead of directing, offer choices that encourage decision-making, such as, “Would you like to do your homework before dinner or after?”
  4. Express Needs and Feelings: Communicate your own needs and feelings in a way that models empathy and self-awareness, “I feel overwhelmed when the house is noisy. Can we create a quiet time together?”

Commonly used Commands from Parents that can be converted into Declarative language.

1. “Brush your teeth.”

  • “Let’s make sure your smile shines bright with clean teeth.”
  • “Time to get those teeth sparkling clean!”
  • “How about we brush our teeth together?”
  • “Remember how happy the dentist is when your teeth are clean?”
  • “It’s time to take care of your smile with some toothbrush action.”

2. “Clean your room.”

  • “Let’s see how quickly we can tidy up your space together.”
  • “How about we make your room look great again?”
  • “Imagine how nice your room will look once everything’s in its place.”
  • “Let’s find a home for all your toys and books.”
  • “What do you think is the best way to organize your room today?”

3. “Do your homework.”

  • “Let’s set up a fun spot for you to breeze through your homework.”
  • “What’s your plan for tackling your homework today?”
  • “How about we knock out your homework so you have free time later?”
  • “Remember, doing your homework now means more playtime later.”
  • “Let’s check off your homework on your to-do list together.”

4. “Go to bed.” / “It’s bedtime.”

  • “It’s time to recharge for another day of adventures.”
  • “Let’s get cozy and ready for dreamland.”
  • “Bedtime means we’re one step closer to a brand new day!”
  • “What bedtime story would you like to end the day with?”
  • “Let’s wind down and get ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.”

5. “Eat your vegetables.” / “Finish your food.”

  • “These veggies are superheroes for your health. Let’s give them a try!”
  • “Finishing your meal will give you energy for all your fun activities.”
  • “Which of these veggies do you think will make you the strongest?”
  • “Every bite gets you closer to becoming a veggie champion.”
  • “Let’s see if we can find a new favorite vegetable today.”

6. “Please” and “Thank you.”

  • “Using ‘please’ shows how kind and polite you are.”
  • “Remember, ‘thank you’ is how we show our appreciation.”
  • “Let’s make sure we use our magic words, ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”
  • “How wonderful it is to hear ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ from someone as kind as you.”
  • “Every ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ makes the world a bit brighter.”

7. “Put your toys away.”

  • “Let’s make sure your toys are safe in their spots.”
  • “How about we organize your toys so they’re ready for tomorrow?”
  • “Putting toys away is like tucking them in for a good night’s sleep.”
  • “Imagine how happy your toys are when they’re back home.”
  • “Let’s create a clean space for more fun tomorrow.”

8. “Be careful.”

  • “Let’s make sure we stay safe while having fun.”
  • “Remember, being careful means we can have more adventures.”
  • “How can we make this safe for everyone?”
  • “Safety first, so we can keep enjoying our day.”
  • “Let’s think about the safest way to do this.”

9. “Get dressed.” / “Change your clothes.”

  • “Let’s pick out something awesome for you to wear today.”
  • “Dressing up is the first step to today’s adventure.”
  • “What superhero outfit will you choose today?”
  • “Let’s make getting dressed fun with a little fashion show.”
  • “Choosing your clothes shows your amazing style.”

10. “Stop that.” / “No.”

  • “Let’s find a different way to do this.”
  • “Is there something else we could try instead?”
  • “Remember, there are many ways to express ourselves safely.”
  • “How about we pause and think of another approach?”
  • “Let’s switch to something that’s fun for everyone.”A Gentle Reminder

It’s important for parents reading this to remember that shifting communication styles is a journey filled with patience and continuous learning.

The goal isn’t perfection but progress towards creating a deeper connection with your children. Linda Murphy’s “The Declarative Language Handbook” is an invaluable resource for any parent looking to make this shift.

By embracing declarative language, we can help our children grow into adults who are self-aware, confident, and capable of forming healthy, meaningful relationships.

In essence, the declarative language is not just a communication tool but a pathway to nurturing a generation that feels empowered to explore, question, and contribute to the world in meaningful ways.

As we strive to improve our parenting approaches, let’s keep in mind that the words we choose and the way we speak can significantly impact our children’s hearts and minds, today and in the future.

Mastery Martial Arts stands as a testament to the power of partnership in parenting. By aligning with parents’ goals, they extend the values of declarative language beyond the home and into the dojo. In this space, children are not only taught physical skills but are also nurtured to develop the confidence and resilience needed to navigate life. The dojo becomes an extension of the home, a place where the lessons of patience, understanding, and mutual respect are practiced and perfected.