10 Positive Phrases You Should Say to Your Child

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Image via Katie Hurley

Parents say a lot of things to their kids. We chit chat, we ask questions, we make jokes, and we try to sneak in a few life lessons here and there … but we never do know what will stick until it comes back to us at a later date.

A few months ago my daughter and I took a walk through the park, as we like to do when we can steal some special time. Hand in hand we strolled along the path looking for butterflies and watching squirrels at play. She told me about something that happened at school and how she stopped to help a friend. None of it came as a surprise, but it did bring tears to my eyes.

I always say that my daughter is one of the good ones. We all say that I suppose. She's full of empathy, kindness, and patience. She helps others before she helps herself. She feels emotions very deeply and understands when others are in need. We often tell her that empathy is her superpower.

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When she finished her story she looked up at me with her big brown eyes, waiting for my response. I fought back tears as I thought about how much love she brings into this world. “One thing I know for sure is that you will change this world for the better. I don't know where you'll live or what you'll do when you grow up, but I know in my heart that you will make this world a better place.”

Several weeks later she whispered those words right back to me as she crawled into my lap and told me about her day. Those words became part of her positive core beliefs – the beliefs that will help her tap into her confidence as she grows.

Praise specific to the child helps the child develop positive core beliefs, and kids need that positive foundation when they get out into the world and confront things like failure, negativity, and disappointment.

Praise gets negative reviews in some parenting circles. Kids today are entitled and over-praised, so say some experts. Parents coddle them and worry so much about self-esteem that they forget to let them fail. Those are the headlines that make a splash and catch the eyes of many. The problem, of course, is that headlines are only meant to draw you in; you have to read between the lines to understand the details.

Kids need positive communication with their parents.

Life is never easy, but having a positive foundation sets kids up for success because they learn to problem-solve, to believe in themselves, and to make good choices.

We all make sure to express love and praise great efforts, but how often do we stop to express other positive feelings we have about our children? How often do we use our words to empower our children?

Try a few of these positive phrases (edited to meet the needs of your children, of course) and watch your children shine in response:

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I love to watch you … Kids get caught up in winning and losing, and sometimes parents do, too. Try sharing what you love to watch instead of commenting on the end result.

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You make a difference. Whether your kid stops to help other kids in need or cheers up a family member on a grouchy day, chances are your kids make a difference in some small (or big) way each day. Point that out. Empower your child to continue to make a difference in the world.

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I believe in you. Growing up is hard work and sometimes kids want to give up. Instead of running in for the save, empower your child by showing him that you believe in him.

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Thanks for teaching me something new. I don't know about you, but I learn something new from my kids almost every day. Giving thanks for the life lessons they offer us shows them that they teach us just as we teach them.

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Your kindness is contagious. The best way to raise confident and happy kids is to prioritize kindness. Point out acts of kindness and talk about how kindness inspires more kindness.

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You have interesting ideas. Kids have a lot of ideas. Some of those ideas work out; some fail miserably. It's not the success or failure that matters, it's that kids learn to keep thinking and keep trying.

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I love the way you solve problems. Parents often talk about the importance of raising independent kids, but kids often feel like they have to follow a script. Step back and let your kids solve their own problems, then point out their hard work and creative thinking.

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Trust your instincts. Childhood is full of trial and error and kids will make mistakes. If we empower kids to trust their instincts, they are more likely to make positive choices and think twice.

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I think about you when we're apart. Many kids wonder about their parents during school and they like to know that their parents think about them, too. Be sure to share stories of things that remind you of your child when you're apart.

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You make me smile. Who doesn't want to hear that?

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10 Positive Phrases You Should Say to Your Child

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "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 he ... More

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