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Words have power, whether we realize that or not. And the words we say to our kids can either shape them for the better or the worst, so we should all be careful to choose them carefully.

The words we use with our children have the power to build their self-esteem, prepare them for the next stages of their life and help them to feel secure in life. Our words and actions during the formative years of their life have a lasting effect on them. And there are certain phrases that every child needs to hear. Here are 12 of them.

1. It’s okay to not be okay.

No matter how hard you may wish it to be otherwise, there will be times in which your child will not be okay. Eventually, they will go through a difficult time and while it may be tempting to try to make them feel otherwise, it’s better to let them feel their emotions.

2. I see you working hard.

Always reward effort and hard work. If you notice your child putting forth the effort to reach a goal or achieve something, make sure you encourage them by letting them know you notice and see their hard work.

3. I love you, unconditionally.

Children need to know they are loved, without conditions. Let them know that no matter what, you will always love them.

4. If you work hard- you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

It’s important to teach your kids the value of hard work and effort. Encourage them to find what they love and what they are passionate about, and then encourage them to focus their attention on that path.

5. Mistakes happen.

Mistakes will happen, and rather than getting upset or freaking out, it’s much better to let them know it’s part of their life course. Show them how to use their mistakes to grow – and they will be unstoppable.

6. I understand why you feel _______.

Early on, recognize their feelings and give them words. For example, I understand you are sad because I had to go to work today. Putting their feelings into words and letting them know you understand, helps to build trust and helps them cope with intense emotions.

7. Thank you!

Using polite words, like “thank you,” helps to build their confidence while simultaneously teaching them good manners. Even if you are thanking them for something they are expected to do (like to clean their room) it helps to gently encourage them, and they will be more likely to do the task on their own if they feel appreciated.

8. I know you can do it. I believe in you.

When your child is having a hard time and questioning whether they can do something, encourage them by using this phrase. They need to realize that you have faith in them and if you believe in them, it will help them believe in themselves.

9. You ask great questions!

Kids can be apprehensive about asking questions. Let them know that questions are not only okay but recommended for learning and growing.

10. I’m sorry, I made a mistake.

When you mess up or do the wrong thing, take responsibility for it and apologize. Kids learn from your modeled behavior, and apologizing when you mess up is important.

11. Thank you for saying sorry, can you explain why you are sorry, too?

When kids apologize, much like anyone else, they need to explain what they have done that merits an apology. Doing so will emphasize where they went wrong and pushes them to accept responsibility for what they have done. Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t make yourself an exception to this, either.

12. It’s okay to change your mind.

Rather than pushing them to settle for something they don’t want, let them know that it’s okay to change their mind. Sometimes, kids don’t realize that, and they may feel pressured to do something they don’t feel comfortable with. Allow them room to change their mind.