Family Progress: Try Ceiling Words

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

danseabornI'm convinced that the phases of child development are what turn parents into broken records. As kids grow up and mature, time passes in phases. Kids are newborns, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults.

With each chunk of time that comes and goes, parents often find themselves emphasizing different concepts and principles with each phase. Sometimes it can take months and years for these ideas to catch on, and in the process parents get stuck using the same old phase-phrases:
To a toddler: "Toys are for sharing."
To a six-year-old: "Are you telling the truth?"
To a preteen: "You can do it; you don't need me."
To a high schooler: "Adjust your attitude."

I don't like hearing something repeated over and over again, even when it's my own voice saying something, and no doubt my kids aren't crazy about being bombarded with repetitive parenting techniques either. So when my kids were little, I took a new approach, and I was amazed at how effective it was—so great that I found I was repeating myself a whole lot less and I used the new method of parenting a number of other times.

Here's what I did: I wrote a single word on a piece of paper and then stuck the paper to the ceiling above one of my kids' bed. Then I pulled aside that particular child and explained to them why the word was where it was. Then I let things be.

The word was something that I wanted to see developed in their life, something that had been lacking. I stuck it to the ceiling so they'd see it each night before they fell asleep, so they would think about it regularly. I stuck it to the ceiling also to avoid becoming a broken record: a word, written once instead of spoken a hundred times. Keeping my mouth shut wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Good results came quickly, and they happened with a lot less frustration for both dad and child.

Is there a needed change that you see in your child, and have you run out of ways to say it? Have you gotten sick of hearing yourself mention it? Have you used phase-phrases till you're blue in the face? Maybe it's time to try a new approach, time to tape a word on the ceiling or leave one on a dresser or write one in lipstick on the bathroom mirror. Maybe it's time to say a little less, to let some waiting do the talking for you.

What is it that you're hoping for? Is it responsibility? Honesty? Focus? Respect? Joy? Patience? Kindness? Do you dare to pare it down to a single word? Do you trust your child to hear that word even after you've stopped saying it?

One more thing for the really brave parents out there. If you're going to give ceiling words or dresser words or mirror words a shot, why not let them run both ways? When you tack up a word in your child's room, leave them a blank piece of paper along with it. Ask them to help you be a better parent, and ask them to trim their suggestion down to a word too. Let them post their word above your bed, on top of your dresser, on your mirror. Then work to give your child the same kind of progress you're looking for in them. In a word: TRY.

Winning At Home, Inc. is a Zeeland-based organization designed to assist and encourage people in family development. Dan Seaborn, founder, wrote this article. E-mail your questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Author Information
Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home, Inc., an organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. As a featured speaker at churches and large-scale events such as marriage conferences, corporate functions, and university assemblies, Dan Seaborn has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples, he encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes.

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