10 Positive Phrases to Say to Your Kids. Try Them Today!

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A young girl sits in my office, staring at the floor. She had a hard day at school. Though she’s only in kindergarten, she sometimes has hard days. She didn’t sleep well the night before, so she had a hard time getting ready for school. This caused frustration for her parents. She tells me it’s her all her fault. She wishes she could go back and start over because she doesn’t like it when she starts the day off on the wrong foot for the whole family.

Those are some big worries for a very young girl.

The truth is that she feels this way a lot of the time. She’s not a fast moving kid under the best circumstances. She’s a bit of a dreamer and tends to get lost in her thoughts. This earns her a fair amount of nagging and negative feedback from both her parents and her teacher.

I ask her to tell me one thing she wishes her parents would say to her more often. Her response is simple, yet startling. “I’m proud of you.”

In an age when parents are accused of “too much praise”, I can’t begin to tell you how many kids sit in my office and say that they wish to make their parents proud.

Kids get a lot of corrections throughout the day. Both at home and in school, kids tend to hear what they need to fix more often than what they’re doing well. While feedback in the form of corrections certainly helps kids learn, we also need to be mindful of filling their emotional cups throughout the day. When their cups run dry, kids struggle to thrive. When we fill their cups with positive phrases, they feel confident and able to take on new challenges.

For nearly two decades, I’ve been asking kids what they want to hear from their parents. Variations of these statements tend to top the list. Try a few of these positive phrases this week and see if you notice a difference. 

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#1 I love being your parent.

This simple statement reminds kids that they are loved and appreciated no matter what.

#2 You make me smile.

Most kids are more in tune with the emotions of their parents than their parents even know. They like to make you laugh and smile.

{ MORE: Dads Don’t Need Extra Praise, a Simple Smile Will Do the Trick }

#3 Your mistakes are fine with me.

Many kids feel the weight of the world when they mess up. They are afraid of disappointing their parents and teachers. What they need to hear is that mistakes are fine, and they can learn something from them.

#4 I know you can do it.

Kids tell me over and over again that their parents don’t think they can do things. From climbing trees to cooking on the stove, many kids feel that their parents simply don’t think they are capable. Put your faith in your child’s abilities and watch her rise to the occasion!

#5 I enjoy listening to your stories.

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Kids today feel rushed much of the time. They feel like their parents don’t have time to listen to their long and winding stories. Make time to listen and communicate that you enjoy what you’re hearing.

#6 I learned something from you today.

Kids have a lot to teach us. You might feel like you already know much of what they learn in school, but let them teach you. You’ll be surprised what your kids can teach you when you take the time to sit back and listen.

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#7 I love watching you play.

Sports parents, take note! Kids don’t want to hear a play-by-play or get pointers after a game. They just want to know that you enjoyed watching them play.

#8 I’m proud of you.

Trust me, your kids need to hear this (more than you might think).

#9 I love spending time with you.

The big reason your kids often beg for special time is that they genuinely enjoy your company. They also hope they you enjoy theirs. Let them know that you have fun hanging out with them.

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#10 I think about you when we’re apart.

You might think your kids never give you a second thought the minute they get on that school bus, but kids tell me the opposite. Kids think about their parents during separations, and they hope their parents are thinking about them.

I could list hundreds of positive phrases to say to your kids to fill those emotional cups each day, but one phrase never ever gets old:

I love you.

So, what positive phrases do you tell your kids to make them happy and confident?

What do you think?

10 Positive Phrases to Say to Your Kids. Try Them Today!

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about helping parents enjoy the ride, she provides parent education and simple strategies to take t ... More

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