It’s the little things that make a difference. Think back to your childhood. What did your parents do or say that most encouraged you? Children are highly sensitive, and uttering the right words and phrases on a regular basis can dramatically shape how they perceive themselves and the world around them. Here are 11 things parents should be telling their kids every day.
1. “I love you”
All children want their parents’ love, and they will never get tired of hearing how much Mom and Dad adore them. A study published in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations showed that females tend to say this more frequently than males, so if you’re a father then take note! Your children will really benefit from having a male role model who isn’t afraid to show his feelings, so tell your kids how much you love them.
2. “I appreciate your efforts”
Research with young children suggests that when they are praised for their efforts rather than their grades, they are more likely to try harder in the future. This sets up a virtuous cycle whereby they put more effort into their work, obtain higher grades, feel a greater sense of self-satisfaction, feel inclined to try harder, and so on.
3. “I’m so glad to spend time with you”
Many parents are forced to juggle multiple responsibilities, such as working a full-time job, keeping a household running smoothly, and caring for elderly relatives. Children can pick up on these pressures, and appreciate it when their parents let them know how much they enjoy spending time with them.
4. “You’re wonderful”
Children are now under more pressure than ever before. They have frequent tests at school, the pressure to get a good job starts at an increasingly young age, and they face a barrage of media messages telling them how they should and shouldn’t look. This means that a simple “You’re wonderful” can go a long way for modern kids, who need reassuring that they are fine just the way they are.
5. “Keep trying”
Kids want and need their parents to encourage them when they fail. Research shows that this is especially useful and important for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.
6. “You’re on the right track”
When children aren’t quite sure whether they are on course to meet a personal goal or learn a new skill, they often look to their parents for reassurance and guidance. A simple “You’re getting there!” or “You’re on the right track!” can keep a child motivated when they would otherwise have given up.
7. “You’re so kind”
Recent research indicates that children are more likely to value high grades and academic ability over being kind and caring towards others. What can we do to reverse this trend? Start by celebrating kindness in your children whenever possible. It will give them a warm glow to have their caring nature recognized.
8. “You’re special”
Every child is special to their parents, but how often do we remind them that they are irreplaceable? Everyone likes to feel as though they are accepted and honored for who they are, whatever their age.
9. “Let’s have fun”
Even the most advanced, studious of kids need to have fun from time to time. Whilst it’s important for them to play with others their own age and develop the skills needed to get along with peers, having fun with their parents is a great way of building fond childhood memories as well as deepening the parent-child bond.
10. “I trust you”
Kids like to feel as though they can take on grownup responsibilities. Research shows that what we expect of children is usually what they give us by way of return, so start treating them as responsible adults-in-training and let them rise to the occasion.
11. “You can do that, I’m sure”
The world can be a tough place, but parental support can make all the difference. Children face challenges every day, whether it’s learning to tie their shoelaces or transfer to a new school. Getting some much-needed encouragement from Mom or Dad can instil self-belief that lasts not only in the short-term, but well into adulthood.
Parenting is a demanding job, but taking just a few seconds each day to remind your child just how great they are will pay off in the future. As adults, they will thank you for believing in and supporting them.