Parenting Buzzwords

Change your child’s behavior with just one word!

Author and Life Coach Connie Sokol shares the benefits of parenting buzz words.

When one of my sons was about three, he had a tendency to take off like a shot. One day as I stood talking with neighbors in front of our home, he turned and ran down the sidewalk headed to the unknown. Dressed only in his diaper (which was duct taped to his body, but that’s another story), I quickly wondered how to get him to stop because I was holding a baby and wearing big clogs. I called, “Ethan!” No response. “ETHAN!” Still running. And then, inspiration. “Ethan, ICE CREAM!” In a split-second he stopped right in his tracks, turned around, and high-tailed it back to me.

That’s the power of a parenting buzzword, a special word that you either say or think to create change in someone’s behavior (including your own). With my young son, it was to get his attention. But there are lots of buzzwords for different age groups. They aren’t a magic formula that works 100 percent of the time—children aren’t robots. But you’ll find they work much of the time, mainly because your thoughts change your actions.

“Backstory.” This is a great one when you’re frustrated with someone and have forgotten that they are a wonderful human being who is struggling just like you to get up and face the day. A few months ago I was traveling on a winding road with only my car and a very, very, very slow minivan in front of me. Because of the curves, I didn’t dare pass it. But minute by minute, my frustration mounted. Finally, the driver put on a signal and pulled off to the side of the road. Freedom! As I zoomed past the offender, I happened to glance in my rearview mirror and saw the van’s emergency blinkers on. What? Were they in trouble? It was a minivan so were there children involved? I was about to pull a u-turn when I looked in the mirror again and saw the van had slowly pulled back onto the road, heading on their merry way. At once the irony hit me—ten minutes ago I was cursing their name. After thinking there was possible trouble, I was ready to make them a coffee cake.

Whether it’s a difficult neighbor or a disgruntled teenager, once you consider, “What’s the backstory here?” you’ll start asking questions. This dissipates your anger which increases your ability to listen, learn and love.

“Eyeballs.” When your children come home from school, instead of talking while loading the dishwasher, wiping the counters, and throwing in a load of laundry, try giving them your eyeballs—not literally, just figuratively. Really look at them to show you care what they’re saying. This is absolute magic! A lady who had attended one of my Education Week presentations tried this very thing with her son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. She said, “My son said to me, ‘Mom, would you please listen to me?” I said I am. He said, ‘How can you listen to me and watch TV and read?’ It hit me like a truck. You had said to give them eye contact. It worked. We ended up laughing, hugging and having a peaceful night. How simple to just give him 10 minutes a day and things tend to go so much more smoothly.”

“I love you.” Last but certainly not least, this is an overall warm fuzzy maker. You don’t even have to be frustrated with someone to use it. Simply say in your mind, “I love you.” Try it. You’ll notice that more than likely you’re already smiling. It’s almost automatic. Next time you are with your child, spouse, or annoying co-worker, simply say, “I love you” in your mind and watch what happens.

Try a parenting buzzword today and email me about the response. The winning email receives a free download of “Balancing Womanhood and Motherhood”!

Connie Sokol is the mother of seven, with a newly released romance novel, Caribbean Crossroads. She is a speaker, blog contributor for “Motherhood Matters” on, and author of several books including Motherhood Matters, and Faithful, Fit & Fabulous. For tips, podcasts, and products visit

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