A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. Proverbs 15:1-2
Understanding godly communication was one of the hardest things I ever learned as a parent. I am a very vocal person, and I love words and talking. The subject of godly communication kept coming up early in our parenting journey when we were taking a Growing Kids God’s Way class. I thought I could use my understanding of this principle for my own happiness and satisfaction while keeping order in my home and my children in line. This is where Proverbs 15 comes into play. While I was using harsh words to control my children’s words, my own mouth was pouring forth foolishness. Convicted of my sin, I realized that I would never reach my children’s hearts just by controlling their words. I had to teach my kids to have a soft answer and to use their words rightly, but it had to begin in me first. I don’t know about you, but to me, speaking is how we get our point across in this life. My “aha” moment on this parenting journey in the godly communication department wasn’t about teaching my children just to be quiet, but how to communicate what they wanted wisely and with the proper words, tone, and timing.
For instance, you want to teach a child that whines that what he is asking for may be fine, but how he is asking for it is not. If a child whines while asking for a drink of water, denying the drink of water will not teach the child not to whine. Teaching a child to use their words rightly, however, will accomplish this goal. Godly communication also includes the tone of voice used. Instruct your child to ask properly by saying, “Can you ask again without whining?” Then teach him to start his response with, “Yes Mommy, no whining. May I please have a drink of water?” Remember, this is a journey. We aren’t looking for perfection, but a right attitude with a submissive heart.
Another area that seems to be a common one in most households is when a child becomes angry at his sibling or parent. Parents must make sure they respond with well-chosen words while teaching the child to change how he is using his tone and words. Teaching that a soft answer turns away wrath might look differently from situation to situation. Sometimes you may need to isolate a child until he gets self-control; at other times, asking probing questions may help to diffuse the anger. One question a parent could ask a child that is using harsh words is, “What do you need?” If the child just wants to argue with either a sibling or parent and can’t answer the question, then time in isolation is definitely needed until he can have a humble attitude that demonstrates itself with a soft answer.
Always remember that your ultimate goal in encouraging godly communication is still to reach your child’s heart with biblical principles. You are on a journey and the destination is your child’s heart attitude. When your child is not using his words rightly, teach them Proverbs 15:1-2, and enjoy seeing how God can transform his heart with soft answers and right words.