Have you ever heard words coming out of your mouth that didn’t sound like you? Most likely, you had been around someone who constantly used the same phrase or maybe they used curse words in every sentence. One day those words start coming out of your mouth.
That is often how ungodly speech patterns begin. Either we are constantly around someone who has them or we just get lazy about monitoring our speech.
Your kids may also pick up bad habits from ignorance – repeating friends, not realizing what they are actually saying. Or maybe they look up to someone famous or listen to the music of someone who degrades others with their speech.
Whatever the cause, we need to help our kids and ourselves more accurately reflect God in how we speak to and about others. Since many times these are speech patterns that have become habits, it’s going to take some work to get rid of them.
So why not make it fun? Call the entire family together and identify which speech patterns concern you and why. The list could include lying, cursing, complaining, gossiping, mean speech, saying ugly things about others and more.
It’s best to focus on only one problem at a time – otherwise your family may get overwhelmed. It’s key that when you introduce this, the seriousness of the problem is communicated, but the execution of the challenge is fun. Introducing the “speech police” to your home can create as many problems as it solves.
You can make it fun by having teams. If different family members have different issues, each person should focus on what they need to correct. The “swear jar” is not a new idea, but why not use play money instead of real money?
If someone catches a family member using the speech pattern they are trying to correct, the “guilty” party has to put money in the jar. When everyone can go a period of pre-determined time without a slip up, the family (or winning team) can decide how the “money” is spent.
It’s up to you if you substitute real money for the play money to celebrate or provide some other reward like a week of no chores for the team who put in the least “money”. The point is to make the process of breaking a bad habit more fun.
To encourage more intentional speech, you can repeat the process choosing a new problem. Or perhaps put a positive spin on it, by working to add something positive – like encouraging words – to your regular conversations. (In that case, catch each other doing the new positive thing.)
Taking the time to make your family’s words more godly, can point others to God. Why? Because others will want to know why what your family says is always so kind, encouraging and loving. And that’s a really good thing!