Family Progress: Try Ceiling Words

I’m convinced that the phases of child development are what turn parents into broken records. As our kids grow up and mature, time passes in phases. Our kids are newborns, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults. With each chunk of time that comes and goes, we find ourselves emphasizing different concepts and principles with our children. Now that my kids are grown, I’m going through these phases with my grandkids. Sometimes it can take months and years for these ideas to catch on, and in the process we often 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 weren’t crazy about being bombarded with repetitive parenting techniques either.

So, I took a new approach a while ago, and I was amazed at how effective it was—so great that since then I’ve repeated myself a whole lot less and I’ve used the new method of 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’ beds. 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.