Taming the tongue seems nearly impossible some days. But setting clear boundaries for our kids helps tremendously. Here are 5 things kids should never say.
I’m sorry but there is no freedom of speech here. Well, actually I’m not sorry, because I love you. It’s not my goal to restrict you. It’s my goal to help you change your heart. You see, I desire most to help you grow in Christ and I’ve learned the hard way that taming the tongue is actually VERY IMPORTANT.
In Matthew 15:18, Jesus says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”
Did you catch that? What comes out of your mouth is actually a reflection of what is in your heart. This verse was spoken by Jesus when the Pharisees were questioning Him regarding the practices of the disciples. Just before this verse He says, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
So you can see that our words are very important. What we say holds tremendous power. Taming our tongue should be a continual pursuit. It shows the world who we really are inside and it actually reflects our character. It’s called the “fruit of our tongue” and it shows what kind of person we are. (I talk all about this in our Bible study Fruit of the Tongue if you’d like to go deeper on the topic of words.)
That can be a scary thought if you consider what has come out of our mouths over even the past few days, much less our lifetime. Were our words truth? Did they show our love for God or our love for self? When people hear us talk, do they see hatred, discontent, or selfishness? Or do they see love, kindness, and truth?
It’s my privilege to be your mother and I love watching you grow in Christ. This is why I’m certain that you don’t want your words to defile you. So, I’m making an official list for you to use as a reference. These are phrases that are forbidden and phrases that are welcomed in our home. Because our words matter. The forbidden phrases will only heap up consequences for you kids. But the welcomed phrases will build your relationships with one another.
Taming the Tongue: 5 Things our Kids Should Never Say
Forbidden: “It’s not fair!”
I could go on and on about this phrase, but let’s focus on one truth. The Bible says that God is working all things for our good. It says that He is always good. Therefore, fairness really isn’t the issue. God is working everything together in our lives.
While it might not appear to be good to us or even seems to be harming us, we MUST trust God’s goodness and His love for us in every situation. Taming our tongue when these words are about to come out will help our perspective tremendously!
What to say instead: “I don’t know what God is doing, but I know He is good.”
When you’re tempted to declare the fairness of a situation, pause and remember what’s true about God. He’s always doing good things. We can trust Him.
First, let’s assume this phrase is being used to describe a person. If you call someone stupid, do you realize what you are really doing?
Take a peek at Psalm 139. This passage tells us how amazingly wonderful we were made. It tells us that God formed each of us in His very image. Of course you know that this passage wasn’t written for just you. It’s true for all people, even the people we might struggle to love at times. If we call someone stupid, we are personally insulting the work of God. Taming our tongue means not letting this insult fly out of our mouths.
What to say instead: “I need to take a minute alone.”
Instead of reacting to the people around us in anger, let’s pause and step away from the situation. If you feel like insulting a sibling, then that’s the perfect time to walk away and get your thoughts together. Remember what’s true about your brother or sister. Remember that they are created in the image of God and therefore worthy of respectful words.
Forbidden: “I’m sorry.”
This one might be a little confusing, but stick with me. Most of the time when people utter these words, what they really mean is, “I’m sorry I got caught” or “I’m sorry that you are bothered.” Truthfully, that’s not really what an apology is all about. So that’s why we need to tame our tongue when empty apologies are about to come out.
What to say instead: “I’m sorry I ___. I’m sure that made you feel ___. Will you please forgive me?”
If you wrong someone, God tells us to seek forgiveness. Not utter a lousy phrase. Seeking forgiveness sounds a little more like this, “Sister, I should not have pulled your hair. I’m sure that hurt and made you feel angry. Will you please forgive me?”
Forbidden: “Finders keepers, losers weepers.”
Finding something doesn’t make it yours. If you find something, make an effort to return it to its rightful owner. And no, I don’t mean that you should glance around and if you don’t see anyone just slip it in your pocket and run. That’s called stealing.
If you truly find something that cannot be returned to its owner, you could consider donating it. But I know that this is not usually the case. Typically it’s $1 that was found in your brother’s pants while putting them in the laundry. The most loving thing is to give it back. Trust me, taming the tongue is worth it because being honest is always best.
What to say instead: “I found this and I think it might be yours.”
I know it’s tempting to put that $1 in your pocket. But remember what Jesus says. He tells us to do to other people what we would want done to us. If someone found your money, wouldn’t you want them to give it back? I thought so.
Forbidden: “It’s his fault!”
It is difficult to deal with a person who is unwilling to consider the part that they played in a problem. Please remember this truth===> you can ALWAYS do something to make a situation better. Even if that something is just to walk away.
No, it’s not your brother’s fault that you hit him because he hit you first. No, it’s not your sister’s fault that you spilled the milk because she was singing an annoying song. Even as a child, you are responsible for your own behavior. Now is the time to understand that you get the chance to tame the tongue and have a right response even when others do something wrong to you.
What to say instead: “I felt hurt when you ___. But I shouldn’t have ___.”
We should talk to others when they hurt us. We need the accountability of others. But one way to build your relationship with your siblings is to also point out what you did in the situation.
Well dear children, that’s all for today. I’m sure there are other phrases that we need to remove from our vocabulary and replace with true and helpful phrases. But for now, let’s work on these. Remember, life and death are in the power of the word. Let’s pour life on those in our home with our words.
Resource for Taming the Tongue
If you’d like to go more in-depth with your child on taming the tongue, my Fruit of the Tongue study is a great resource. Find out all about this Bible study for kids by clicking the image below.