Sometimes life gets so busy that we neglect to tell our children things they really need to hear. Yes, you know your kids are great, but do they know this? And, do they believe it? Part of our job as a parent is helping our kids develop a strong sense of self. We do this through our actions. But, we also do this through words. What children hear coming out of our mouths on a daily basis can have a profound effect on their self-esteem and what they believe about themselves.
Here are 10 things that you should say to your children:
1. I love you
Do you tell them this every day? Yes, you show them through everything that you do for them. But, they actually need to hear it too. Parents tend to say this to their children when they are putting them to bed, when they are leaving to go somewhere, or when they are saying goodbye to them on the phone. Try to sneak it in other times throughout the day as well. When they wake up in the morning, say “Good morning! I love you so much!” My daughters often catch me looking at them, and they’ll say “what?!” I respond, “Nothing. I just love you!” I always get a big smile from them. I know they know that I love them. But, I tell them as often as I can, just to be sure.
2. Thank you
Our expectations of our children are high, which they should be. We expect them to do their homework, to keep their rooms clean, to be nice to their siblings, to do chores. How often do you thank them for everything that they do? Yes, we expect certain things to happen on a daily basis, but let your children know how much you appreciate them. A simple “thank you for being such a great big sister” will let them know that you notice their behavior and that you truly appreciate everything they do.
3. You are so beautiful!
I tell my daughters this a lot. I let them know that they are so beautiful, but that they shine on the inside as well. I tell my girls that the most beautiful people are the ones with a kind heart. I let them know that their empathy towards others and their willingness to help others makes them genuinely good people and so much more beautiful inside and out.
4. You are doing a great job!
Children need to know that you are proud of them. If you tend to let them know everything that they do wrong, they will soon believe that they can’t do anything right. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” How accurate this is! When focus on your children’s strengths, talents, and abilities, it empowers them. It makes them believe in themselves. When they believe in themselves, they will excel and do great things. You’ll see!
5. I’m sorry
Sometimes we get a little overwhelmed with what comes our way. Occasionally we may take it out on our kids. Yes, sometime it seems as though they deserve it, but it’s okay to admit when you were wrong too. So, there may come a time where you lose it and scream at your kids. Maybe they did something to make you angry. But, once you’ve calmed down. Don’t be too proud to go to them and tell them you are sorry. After all, you are the adult here. Let them know that you are sorry that you got so upset. Then you can calmly explain the reasons behind your rant. This might lead to a good conversation about what they did and why you were so angry about it. Apologizing also shows them how to be the “bigger” person. It shows them that you are not perfect, and that you make mistakes sometimes too.
6. What’s wrong?
When it is obvious that something is troubling your child, find out what it is. Let them know that you are always there for them no matter what. But go a step farther. Sometimes they are too embarrassed or afraid to talk to you about what is going on. Just because they know that you are there for them doesn’t mean that they will volunteer any information to you. You have to ask. It’s so important to keep the lines of communication open. Start this at an early age. Since they will be used to talking about the small stuff, when it’s time for the big stuff, they will feel comfortable opening up to you.
7. I will never give up on you
There’s a song by Jason Mraz, called I Won’t Give Up, that I just love. I told my daughters that this song reminds me of them. I let them know that, no matter what happens throughout their lives, I will never give up on them. This becomes especially important as your kids enter their teen years. You might often feel like you can’t take any more and that you don’t know if you can deal with them any longer. During this period, they may seem like they want nothing to do with you and even start to push you away. Don’t give up on them. It is now that they need you more than ever. Be there for them. If they are heading in the wrong direction, steer them back where they need to be. They might rebel. They might seem like they don’t appreciate a thing that you are doing for them. But now is not the time to let go. They need you, whether they realize it or not. Don’t give up. Be there. Stay strong. Do everything possible to let them know that you will not give up on them. Ever.
8. I forgive you
Throughout their lives, your children will mess things up…a lot. Don’t ever hold a grudge against them when you are upset with them. If you are disappointed in your children, then you can bet that they are even more disappointed in themselves. Don’t hesitate to tell them that you forgive them. This can open up a dialogue about how everyone makes mistakes. Discuss what they can do better next time. Don’t let a bad decision on your child’s part be a defining moment for them. Let them believe in 2nd chances.
9. Let’s spend time together
Your kids need to spend time with you away from your iPhone, laptop, TV, or iPad. They need your undivided attention every day. Try to set aside time each day to spend with your children. This shows them that they are an important part of your day. As a graphic designer, I must spend a large amount of time at my computer. My daughters know what I do for a living. Since I work from home, I am often on my laptop working on a logo or website or some other project. But, it’s important that they see me shut down my computer during the day, so that we can spend time together. Yes, I can multi-task, but it takes on a whole different meaning for them when I unplug and just spend time with them. So give it a try. Set aside some time each day to unplug and rediscover your family time.
Don’t be afraid to say no to your kids. There are going to be times where you must do what is in the best interest of your child. Don’t ever sacrifice your family values because your son or daughter will be upset if you don’t allow them to do something. If that means that they are the “only ones in the whole class” that won’t be at the party, then so be it. There are many decisions that will come their way that they are just not mature enough to handle on their own. By saying no, you actually take the pressure off of them, so that they don’t have to worry about making these tough choices. You are being a good parent by saying no when you know that saying yes could result in some unfavorable consequences.