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The four phrases our children need to hear every day

Being mindful of the way we are thinking and talking about our kids has an impact on our own well-being and the well-being of our families.

Tribune February

Being a parent can be busy. Many of us are juggling carpools, school, work, activities, chores, and the ongoing list of our daily responsibilities – all while trying to raise children who will turn into healthy, happy adults. We do our best to support and encourage our kids every day, but in the chaos that is life, we may miss opportunities to care for their emotional needs.

Here are a few phrases we can focus on within our families:

I love you.
All kids – all humans, for that matter – have a need to feel loved and surrounded by safe, supportive relationships. A parent’s love for a child may feel like a given, but it’s important to not overlook or forget to say the words, “I love you.” Kids can also feel the love you have for them in different ways – not just with your words, but your actions as well, such as a kind gesture, hugs and kisses, quality time and so on.

You matter.
This is about finding the words and the ways to show a child we value them. Our kids need to be reminded that what they think, feel, and do matter to us. Asking questions and showing interest can send the message that their experiences, preferences, opinions, and thoughts are important.

You are human.
It’s something we’ve all had to learn the hard way: We’re not perfect and neither are our feelings. Our kids are learning this right now and we can help them through it. Sometimes, we need to let our kids know it is okay to be and feel many things at once – including the pleasant and unpleasant emotions that come with life. We model this as adults when we acknowledge our own mistakes, work to make things right, and talk about the tough emotions or situations we experience, as well as how we are working to cope.

I’m proud of you.
Sometimes, it’s not what we say directly to our kids that carries the most weight. They could hear us talking about them to other parents, our families or our friends. When our child hears us sharing complaints, concerns, or criticism as we are talking about them to other people, it can undermine every effort we’ve made to build them up. Hearing their parents talk about them positively can help our children know we’re proud of them, even without using those words.

We can plug so many other words and actions in throughout the day that can make our children feel seen and appreciated, such as:

  • Greeting them with a simple, “Good morning;”
  • Asking, “What do you need right now?” during a tough moment;
  • Saying, “We can get through this,” when they’ve gotten it wrong;
  • And asking, “How can I help?” when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

When we are regularly sending encouraging and empowering messages to our children in an effort to make them feel loved, valued, and understood, the benefits are not only experienced by them but extend to us as well. Just as our child needs to feel connected to us, as adults, we need to feel invested in our relationship with them. Being mindful of the way we are thinking and talking about our kids has an impact on our own well-being and the well-being of our families.

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