These 3 words are robbing you of feeling more cheerful & speaking honestly
Leave it to your child to reflect back at you the areas where you could use some improvement.
A few weeks ago, I asked my 4-year old daughter if she would like to walk along a trail with some newer friends. Her response? “I don’t care about them.”
My friend and her sons were RIGHT THERE next to my daughter. Yiiiikes.
Thankfully, my friend is easy-going and understands my daughter’s shy and anxious personality. She knew immediately that my daughter wasn’t actually trying to insult her or her children.
My daughter’s comment bothered me.
I noticed that she was using the phrase "I don't care" more often, but I hadn’t really given it much thought until this situation.
After spending several days dwelling on it, I made a conscious effort to understand what was going on inside that tiny person’s brain and figure out what she was really implying.
And you know what I realized? She was copying ME.
Kids are brilliantly adept at imitating their parents’ or caregivers’ behavior. And the honest truth is that I was frequently modeling this behavior for my daughter.
I realized that “I don't care” was an incredibly common phrase in my vocabulary.
What does "I don't care" mean?
At first, you might ask what's the big deal with saying that phrase? In and of itself, there's nothing explicitly wrong with saying "I don't care." The problem was my overuse of it — and the underlying message of negativity (or at least the potential for a negative misinterpretation).
I say "I don't care" all the time when answering questions from my husband, like "Do you want to take my car to the store?" Or in describing feelings I have about certain activities. I don’t care if we go the party tomorrow. I don’t care about celebrating anniversaries.
Of course my intent is to convey that I don’t have strong feelings about the subject. I can take either car. I won’t be upset if we don’t attend the party, or celebrate an anniversary.
But that nuance isn’t necessarily understood by my little girl. She just hears “I don’t care.”
So, in essence, I was communicating to my daughter that I didn't care about whatever was being asked. That I didn't care about other people's ideas, suggestions, or feelings. That perhaps I didn’t care about the person.
And that's not at all the lesson I want to convey to my daughter.
I didn’t want to be unconsciously telling my husband that his question is inconsequential. And by saying “I don’t care” about going to a party, I wasn’t describing my honest feelings.
And by not clearly communicating my true intent, I leave my comments open to being misinterpreted as negative. A four-year old will reach the simplest and most obvious conclusion. In this case “I don’t care” actually means that “I don’t care.”
Use more positive words
So what's a mama to do? I'm changing my words.
The simplest correction, I’ve found, is to say "I don't mind." Immediately, the connotation is more positive, polite, and respectful.
But I want to make deeper changes. Something more than just replacing one word for another. So here are some great choices I've been incorporating:
Either option works for me.
I don't have a preference.
Sure, that sounds good.
What would you like?
Of course, the best substitute for “I don’t care” depends on the specific conversation you’re having. But the key here is to speak positively and convey your true intent – say what you DO want, like, or feel. Speak with positive words and offer up love and compassion whenever you speak.
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