“Why”, “Because”, and “For Example” are some of my favorite words.
As a trained social scientist, I’ve been taught to hunt down the reasons, the connections, and the proof behind every claim I make in a research paper. In research papers you have to persuade people that what you’ve found is real. And it turns out, these three words are really useful for host parents who want to tell their au pairs that they are appreciated.
Why, Because, and For Example: Three Ways to Make What You Say Matter.
“Why”— as either a question or an explanation — excites me because I like to see the links between things. I want to know causes and effects, and I want to understand how the world works.
“Because” is a favorite, and not just because it is the answer to “why”. I like ‘because’ because we use it to tell each other what matters, what we are paying attention to, or what’s giving our statement some kind of authority or meaning. Showing causality makes a statement more persuasive.
“For example” really brings it all home. Examples are reality checks that prove statements are real-ish. I’ve found that with my kids the examples help to translate abstract ideas (e.g., be kind!) into real actions (Be kind!, For example, help your sister with her sweater.)
While these words are generally interesting and useful, they become critical when we’re aiming to verbalize our appreciation to our au pairs.
What To Say To Appreciate Your Au Pair
We need to tell our au pairs not only ‘that’ they matter, but also why they matter.
For example, “Your sunny attitude —even when the kids are being grumpy— is one of the reasons why I love having you around.”
We need to tell our au pairs why what they do actually matters to us personally.
For example, “Because I want our kids to be generous and helpful, I appreciate when you offer to share snacks or to give another kid a push on the swings.”
And, we need to offer our au pairs more examples, because we need to show we are paying attention to specific, real things that they do that are wonderful.
“I appreciate that you take the kids safety so seriously. For example, when you checked that the car seat was tightly belted in, I could tell you were on top of things.”
Examples, explanations for why, and links back to the source of our appreciation help our au pairs know that we’re not just making it up just to say something nice.
Even better, it tells them that we see them, in all their specific goodness, demonstrating the more abstract values and qualities that we appreciate about them.
In our efforts to make our appreciation real, we can get into a routine where we say ‘thank you’, or ‘that was great’. It’s not that we don’t mean this when we say it — of course we do. But, we can make it more meaningful to our au pairs when we tell them why. For example, even if it’s just ‘because’.