The way we speak to our children has a great influence in their development of self-esteem and confidence. What may seem like a harmless remark can be devastating to your child’s self-worth. It’s very important that as parents we take care to only use language that will uplift our children and encourage them to feel confident in themselves. We are their first sense of the world and so they are looking to us to figure out how to love themselves. It will take a conscious effort on our part but it is so very worth it. Here are some examples of things you should and should say to your children.
Let’s start with the things that you should not say:
- Leave me alone. Saying this to your child can make them feel that they are not worth your time and that you will not be there to support them when they need you. You may have only said it because you were in the middle of something very important and will turn your attention to them when you’re finished. Try expressing that sentiment to them instead. This way they will have a clear expectation of obtaining your attention but that they must wait a few moments.
- Because I said so. This phrase teaches your child that their opinions, thoughts, and feelings do not matter. Instead of this phrase, take the time to explain why you are giving them a certain direction. If you don’t have the time to give them a reason at that moment, let them know you will tell them at a later time.
- Stop crying. Telling your child to stop crying is very dismissive of their feelings and teaches them to bottle their emotions. Ask your child to express the reason why they are crying and let them know that you want to help them find a way to resolve it. This will help teach your child that they can confide in you and they’ll learn how to look for solutions to their problems independently.
- Shut up! This one is really hard not to say when your children are being disruptive. It’s harmful because it indicates to your children that you will not listen to them. Take a deep breath and inform your child that they are being disruptive and explain why they need to bring the noise level down.
- I love you but… There should never be a condition of your love for your child. This can build lasting insecurities in your child. They will be less likely to express themselves with you or others for fear that it would lead to your disapproval and ultimately the loss of your love completely.
Now let’s talk about the great things you should and probably do say to your children:
- I love you. This is the best and most important thing you can say to your child. It makes them feel wanted and supported by you. Say it as often as possible. They will never tire of hearing it.
- I like you. It may seem like this is the same as telling your children you love them but the statements are vastly different. Telling your children that you like them lets them know that you like who they are as a person. As often as you think to, take it a step further and tell them a specific aspect of their personality that you enjoy.
- I’m sorry. This goes a long way to show your child that everyone makes mistakes and that the best way to handle it is to hold yourself accountable. It also shows your child that you value their feelings and that you did not intend to hurt them.
- What do you think? This question goes a long way to teaching your child that their opinion is important. It also helps foster a relationship between you where they feel comfortable opening up to you. You’ll have a much stronger bond with your child if you can ask this question often.
- You are capable. This is a great phrase to use to help boost your child’s confidence. It shows that you support and believe in them. This, in turn, will make them feel less afraid to try new things.
Now that you are aware of some of the language that can have a huge impact on the self-esteem of your child, make sure you take a few moments to think about what you are about to say when you are frustrated or very busy. Take a few breaths to calm down before you address them or their behavior. In addition, don’t forget to give them positive affirmations and feedback as often as you can. Positive memories will go a long way to making sure your child grows into a confident adult and your relationship with them continues to grow.
If you are looking for another way to show your child you love them with positive words, consider putting them on a customized nice list from Santa. This thoughtful esteem-building gesture will help them feel loved and appreciated.