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Little Pitchers

2012 May 1

In the movie, A Christmas Story, the father comes back into the house after having left for work because that %$#@ Oldsmobile had frozen up on him again. The mother gives him a warning that the boys may pick up on his colorful language by singing, “Little pitchers.”

"Listen Carefully" by Chris Chidsey

Obviously, we want to watch our language around kids. The easiest way to combat their using bad words is to always be able to tell them, “We don’t talk like that, so neither should you.” Even though I didn’t grow up that way we’re doing our best to see that the kids in our house do as long as they are living with us.

But the real lesson here is that kids have big ears! They hear everything even when you don’t think they’re paying attention. We’ve seen time and time again where adults say things thinking that since the kids are engaged in something else, like play or coloring, that they don’t hear – but that’s never true. They are always listening.

For example, a few weeks ago a friend of ours called to inform us that his elderly aunt died. She had been in  a nursing home that kept a cat. This cat would camp out at on a person’s bed before they died, sensing somehow that the resident was close to the end. Jennifer and I were talking about this quietly in the kitchen while the boys played in the living room.

A few days later at dinner, Josh (not even close to his real name) asked us, “Did you know that cats know when someone is going to die?”

So why not use this “talent” for their benefit?

Let them hear you on the phone or out in front of the house telling your friend how well the kids are doing in school; that they had a good baseball game; or how well they cleaned up their room. This works best on top of telling the kids directly things they are doing well and that you’re proud of them for what they’ve accomplished.

It’s safe to say that kids in foster care have heard and been told all kinds of negative things about themselves. As a rule it takes about 16 positives to cover over a negative. Also, these kids are generally skeptical and may not believe you at first when you tell them nice things about themselves; they may have trouble accepting the compliment because they don’t believe it.

But “overhearing” you reinforces what you’ve been telling them all along:

There are great things about them that they should know.

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