My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow springs of life. Proverbs 4:20
Did you know that your child could have forty thousand to sixty thousand thoughts each day? Did you know that 90 percent of those thoughts are repetitive? Those numbers seem false, but a quick Google search will confirm them. It’s hard to know how many thoughts a young child has each day, but even if the number is half that of a teen or an adult, your child is thinking a LOT of thoughts each day.
Experts believe your child develops conscious thoughts around the age of four. Most of us parent those thoughts and the actions that result. But we also parent our children’s subconscious thoughts, often unaware we are doing so.
For instance, you are on the phone with your mom and say, “Lauren tripped over Casey again. She is kinda clumsy, bless her heart.” Or the kids are playing in the room next door, and you are joking with your friends about the last T-ball game. “Patrick swung for the fence and missed the ball. I guess I won’t be seeing him on a baseball card someday.”
We think we are joking with our friends, but if the kids hear those words, their subconscious might assume “I am clumsy” or “I can’t be a good baseball player.” Young kids think their parents are smart and know most things. Older kids assume no one knows them as well as their parents. Somewhere in their subconscious, seeds are planted by the words they hear.
Every parent says things they wish they hadn’t. Even as I type these words, I cringe, remembering some of the things I said while joking around or on the phone with friends. One of the greatest gifts we give our kids is the understanding that parents are imperfect too. The good news is that we can choose to intentionally speak into our children’s lives the words we want them to believe, just like Aibileen did in The Help.
In that movie, Aibileen hugs the young girl she has been caring for since birth. Aibileen has just been framed, then fired from her position as a housekeeper and nanny. Before she leaves that job for the last time, Aibileen wants the little girl to repeat back to her the phrase she has been speaking into her life. Through tears, the little girl says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
I love great books that become great movies. I love to consider the power of words that can make us think and feel. I wish every word I spoke or wrote could be as profound as that line from The Help. Aibileen knew that a child needs to hear words that build up rather than tear down. And every child will hear millions of words that do both.
What do you want to say about your child at their wedding’s rehearsal dinner one day? Let them overhear you now say that is who you believe they will become. You can alter many of your children’s thoughts by investing words of truth and encouragement into their subconscious.
You think sixty thousand thoughts each day and 90 percent are repetitive. What thoughts do you want your child to repeat in their minds every day? What do you want them to think about you? Others? The Lord? Let them overhear you say, and repeat, those things.
King Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs we have in our Bible. Proverbs 4:20–23 says, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could speak a version of those words to our kids? God can help you speak words that will heal and give your children a strong heart. God will give you wisdom to parent your child’s thoughts. The next time you see your child lost in their thoughts, ask God for his thoughts and speak those into your child’s heart and mind. God told Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
We think sixty thousand thoughts each day. Wouldn’t it be great to know that some of those came from God as a gift for your kids?
It’s something to think about…