Words matter. The way we talk to our children can leave an impact that lasts a lifetime. Make sure you’re choosing words that build them up with these 10 powerful things to say to your child!
You’ve probably known the sing-song phrase since you were a child:“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I think even as a kid, I realized how untrue that was. Broken bones usually heal, but words can leave a lifetime of scars on a person.
That’s a hard realization as a parent. When you love someone as fiercely as you love your child, it’s difficult to consider how much words can wound. My hope has always been that if I can use my words to build up my children and create confidence in them, I can give them armor to fend off the words down the road that can hurt them. Here are my top 10 powerful things to say to your child.
Powerful Things to Say to Your Child
- “I love you.” This is definitely one of the most powerful things to say to your child! I probably tell my kids I love them twenty times a day. You show them you love them with your actions and the work you do every day for them, but they need to hear it. By hearing it over and over, it becomes imprinted on them.
- “Yet.” Some kids are born with a can-do attitude, and others have to learn it. At just 2 or 3 years of age, my son would get frustrated when he couldn’t do something, and I would hear “I can’t do it!” This year in kindergarten, his teacher focuses on a growth mindset, so we use the word “yet” all the time. “I can’t read yet” (but I’m learning). “I can’t ride a two-wheeler yet” (but I’m practicing). Just adding this one simple word opens a whole new world.
- “You can tell me anything, even if you think I’ll be upset.” I often tell my children that if they tell me the truth, I will be less upset than if they try to keep something from me. There have been a couple of times that my son has had to remind me that I shouldn’t be mad since he told me the truth – probably good practice now when it’s over minor things since I’m sure we’ll have some more significant things in the future!
- “I’m proud of you.” As a grown woman, I still love hearing my parents tell me they are proud of me. The definition of proud, from Dictionary.com, is “feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself.” To know that you’ve given your parents satisfaction and something you’ve done is highly honorable is pretty darn awesome.
- “You’re right.” My kids prove me wrong all the time. When they do, I make sure to tell them that they’re right. I want them to realize, even at a young age, that they bring value to my life and the world around them.
- “I was wrong; will you forgive me?” I make a lot of mistakes, and that’s certainly true in my interactions with my kids. I hope to teach my children that we all make mistakes, and when we do, we need to sincerely ask for forgiveness and then try to change our actions so it doesn’t happen again.
- “Please” and “Thank you.” How are your kids supposed to learn manners if you don’t use manners when you speak to them? We all know they learn by example, so be a good example!
- “What do you think?” It’s never too early to start asking your kids for their thoughts and opinions on everything from what to make for dinner to why the sky is blue. Not only does this question help them to start thinking critically, but it shows them that their opinions have value.
- “How would that make you feel?” Empathy is extremely important in developing emotional intelligence, and it also creates an awareness of how your words and actions impact other people. This is my go-to question when my kids do or say something that hurts my feelings or those of other people.
- “You are important.” In a world of cyber-bullies and all kinds of other terrible things, we cannot tell our kids enough that they are important. To quote one of my favorite books, On the Night You Were Born, “for never before in story or rhyme… has the world has never known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again.”
Words matter. Show your children how powerful words can be to build up, and they will be better prepared for the times that words are used to tear down.
Want more powerful & positive things to say? Read our article ► 50 Positive Things You Should Be Saying to Your Kids