Kids + Words = Problem Solving

Use your wordsIf you spend any time around a class of preschoolers, you will inevitably hear someone screaming and throwing a fit. We can look to preschool teachers for help with this overwhelming parenting issue. One great technique they apply is “use your words.” I tend to say, “Use words”, but that’s my own personal preference. “Use your words” is what I hear most teachers saying.

About 8 years ago, I started working in a school that had preschoolers in it. Up until that time, the youngest I had ever worked with was Kindergarten. The first day of school I heard a little one screaming in the hallway. He was screaming, pointing while jumping up and down.  His teacher was very calmly telling him to “use your words”. She would say, “I cannot help you, until you use your words to tell me what you want.” After repeating this several times, he finally said, “backpack”. He wanted to keep his new backpack on in the classroom. Since then, I have seen this scenario repeated over and over. “Use your words” is a common statement with preschool teachers. However, I’ve never heard a parent say that outside of the school environment.


There are 3 reasons why parents should teach their child to, “Use words.”


  1. It helps the child learn to deal with their frustrations. If they can say what’s wrong, you can help them work through the problem. Even if the answer is, “No, we don’t have money to buy that toy, but we can put it on your birthday list.” They are verbally telling you the problem and you are giving them an answer or a solution. Even if you still have to say, “No,” you can acknowledge that they are upset and that throwing a fit will not help them.


  1. It develops their speaking skills. Once they can say something to you like “backpack”, then you can help them phrase it into a sentence. “Did you leave something in your backpack? Is your backpack on the wrong hanger? Would you like to show me your backpack? Do you want to wear your backpack?” After you get them to acknowledge the problem, then get them to say, “I want to leave my backpack on.” They often don’t know what words to use until you tell them and get them to repeat the words. This article really shows the process of helping them to develop the words: What do you mean, “Use your words!”? It starts developing a conversation between you and your child that will hopefully develop as they get older.


  1. It saves your sanity. Fit throwing can totally wear a parent down. If you have a strong willed child who seems to never quit, it physically and emotionally drains you. As a parent, it’s your job to give that child the skills to manage himself. If a child can learn to “use their words” at an early age, it can carry on into their lives as they get older. It actually works to say it to an older child who is frustrated. “Use your words to tell me what’s wrong,” can break the ice and gets them talking.


Honestly, there are some adults that need to, “use their words” and it would help a lot of relationships. When anyone just gets upset without saying what’s wrong, it builds a wall that is hard to break down.


How have you taught your kids to, “Use their words.”?


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