In a recent post I shared five things that every parent should avoid saying to their kids. It left me feeing pretty lousy. It’s one thing to focus on the negative, and we need to go there from time to time. But if we’re going to eliminate the negative it’s nice to know what to replace it with.
So, here are five things we might focus on saying to our children as often as possible.
Gratitude is a powerful motivator. It makes our kids feel appreciated. And saying thank you also models manners and gratitude for them to follow. Saying thanks and explaining why you’re saying it can have a powerful impact on a relationship between parent and child.
I’m sorry. I’m still learning, just like you
Parents who act like they’re the finished product who are simply there to impart wisdom to their children leave their children feeling judged and imperfect. But when we acknowledge our mistakes and describe how we are learning to be better people because of those mistakes, our children learn that it’s ok to admit fault and try again. This is a powerful and important lesson for our kids.
I watched how much effort you put in – you seemed to give it all you had
Because parents want their children to succeed, it can be easy to always ask for more, demanding ever increasing levels of performance. The pursuit of perfection will always lead to disappointment. However, when we let our kids know we saw how hard they tried, and let them know we are satisfied while ever they do their best, they’ll be inspired to try – and they won’t feel bad if they fail. Instead, they’ll be open to learning how to do better.
I love you
Every child should hear this every day. But they shouldn’t just hear it. They need to see and experience evidence of it in all of their interactions with us.
As we say more of these beautiful and important things, and fewer of those harmful things, our kids are more likely to grow up feeling secure, confident, happy, and loved.
What do you think?
If we want to have responsible children, they need to be given responsibility. One of the most powerful ways to help them become responsible is to stop telling them what to do, and instead, to ask them what they think they should do. Then we can encourage them (or gently guide them). By asking them what they think, our children also develop a trust in their own opinions, ideas, and instincts.