Helpful Phrases to Use When Your Child Is Testing Your Patience

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If you’re caught in the tortuous cycle of snapping at your kids and then feeling guilty for the way you’ve spoken to them, Rose & Rex’s Education Director Lauren Vien, M. Ed. can sympathize. As a mom with over a decade of experience teaching in private preschools and an author of The Guide: Positive Language Strategies, Lauren wants parents to understand that perfection isn’t the goal.

Instead, Lauren suggests having honest, age-appropriate conversations with your child to acknowledge the negative language or tone you used. She outlines simple talking points that even young children can understand. “I’m sorry I used an angry voice this morning. I was feeling frustrated that it was taking our family so long to get dressed today.”

Lauren recommends also doing this for toddlers who haven’t developed their own verbal skills yet, pointing out that she includes her 18-month-old daughter in these conversations. “I know that she can understand far more than she can say right now.”

Her second piece of advice? Be gentle with yourself. Lauren shares a rule of thumb that she learned while studying education at NYU: the 7/10 concept. The idea is that 7 out of 10 of things we say to a child should be positive. “During extra-tough moments, when I’m feeling guilty about my choice of words, it’s comforting to reflect on the day as a whole. 10/10 is not happening. 7/10 I can do… most days!”

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