Plan Ahead So You’ll Say the Right Thing to Your Kids

By Amber Lia
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Planning out what to say in frustrating parenting moments can help you speak life into your children instead of tearing them down.


   Listen to a broadcast about the words you use with kids with Amber Lia.

A few years ago, I held my youngest son’s hand as we walked across a busy parking lot. My older two boys trailed behind whining for ice cream. Such a request was not unheard of, but I didn’t handle this situation well and yelled at them.

My three boys blinked up at me. The look on their faces stabbed my heart. In that moment, I realized I too easily defaulted to hurtful words when I was frustrated.

Have you ever heard yourself say something you promised you wouldn’t say to your children — shaming words such as, “What were you thinking?” or “When will you ever learn”? The Bible says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). My hasty words often left wounds, like those of a sword. I could see this in my children’s dejected expressions.

A new way to respond

Here are a few examples of phrases parents can say that bring healing instead of injury.


Instead of: “Don’t take that tone of voice with me, young lady. Go to your room until you can change your attitude!”

Say: “Claire, I love you. Because I love you, I won’t allow you to speak rudely. That tone won’t go well for you in life, and it displeases God. Please try saying that again with kindness and respect. I’m listening” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).


Instead of: “Be quiet! I can’t hear myself think!”

Say: “Boys, I need everyone to follow my lead. See how softly I’m speaking right now? I’m sure you don’t realize it because you are having so much fun, but your voices are getting a bit too loud for me. I’d like you to speak no louder than I am right now. If you need to be noisier, that’s OK, but you will need to play outside or go to your bedroom. Thank you!”


Instead of: “If you kids can’t get along then you can just go to your rooms. I’m so tired of all the fighting!”

Say: “I know that you’re struggling right now. I want to help. Is this something you can discuss in normal voices and be good listeners, or do you need me to listen and help you work through it?” (2 Timothy 2:23-25).


Instead of: “Why can’t you ever clean your room or do your homework on time?” Or, “You always mess this up or make us late!”

Say: “Son, we need to work on this area of behavior. I feel a little stuck right now on how to help you, so let’s take a few minutes apart to think and pray about it. Then, I’d like to hear two good ideas from you about how you can improve and how I can help you. I’ll have two good ideas to share with you as well. When we both get frustrated, it doesn’t help, so let’s ask God to give us wisdom and help us problem-solve” (James 1:5).

A Holy Pause

Our tone of voice and body language will reveal how we really feel when we talk to our kids. Take a “holy pause” before you address your child’s misbehavior so that your own words and actions are not rude or inappropriate. Remember that you don’t have to match their bad behavior with your own. We get to demonstrate the way we want our kids to treat us by first modeling it for them.

One thing I have found to be true is that I can’t parent rightly if I’m empty spiritually. Part of planning the right words to say to my children means planning my own time with the Lord each day so that I’m filled with the fruit of the Spirit, living out the traits of love, joy, kindness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When those hard parenting moments come, and they will, what comes out of our mouths will be evidence of whether or not we are in tune with the Lord and His heart for our kids. Planning the right things to say when my children frustrate me is time well spent, and the benefits go far beyond the moment to building a parent-child relationship with no regrets.

Copyright © 2018 by Amber Lia. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Amber Lia

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker and author. She and her husband, Guy, own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles. Amber has co-authored two books with Wendy Speake, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.