These Are the Words Your Child Needs to Hear

E.B. Johnson

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by: E.B. Johnson

Because our children are a part of us, we want them to have a better life than we were able to provide for ourselves. All parents have a different way of going about this, but sometimes they can get lost in the mission of it all. Providing a good life for your child (so they can have a better one later on) is meaningless if you don’t also give them the mental and emotional tools they need to thrive. Want your child to be truly happy and strong in the chaos of life? You need to teach them how to do it and tell them why they’re worthy of it every day.

The words your child needs to hear from you.

Being a good parent isn’t just a matter of putting a roof over your child’s head and food in their bellies. Being a good parent is so, so much more, and it requires so much more in both word and deed. Want your child to have a fighting chance at a happy and self-possessed life? These are the phrases they need to hear from you every day.

I love you

The love of our parents is a deep one, and it’s one that we spend the rest of our lives chasing. As children, we know our caretakers are supposed to feel a certain way about us, and when they don’t — we go looking for it in others. If you want your child to avoid that journey for the rest of their lives, you need to tell them how much you love them loudly, and often. Don’t assume they know. Make it clear and vocalize it to them daily.

You are safe

While you may think you’re providing a secure environment for your child, they may not feel the same way. Your child needs to know that they’re safe. They come to this knowledge by observing your behavior, but also by getting literal verbal assurances from you. Make sure that your child knows you are always safe with them, and that they will never come to harm or anger by opening up to you and coming to you when they feel threatened.

I am proud of you

How often do you tell your child that you’re proud of them? Do you only utter this phrase if they first manage some major task that looks good to your neighbors and family? Or are you willing to be proud of them even when they’re not succeeding in the material world? Tell your child that you’re proud of them simply for existing. Tell them that you believe in them, but make it clear that it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t. They know their needs better than you do.

You are important

Do you tell your child how important they are every day? Do you make them feel confident in who they are, and powerful enough to go after the life that they want? You can teach your child to feel special without making them arrogant. It comes down to showing them how to recognize their special abilities while celebrating those of others. Show them that they are unique and that they have something original to share with this world.

I’m sorry

So many parents believe that they have to build their family around a domineering and omnipotent power dynamic, but that just isn’t the case. Your child already sees you as a leader simply for the fact that you’re their protector and provider of all things. You don’t also need to be the scary monster in their closet. That means taking accountability for your mistakes when you screw up. It means saying, “Oops, I made a mistake,” and laughing when you get it wrong. This teaches the child that mistakes are common and not a big deal — don’t let your child see you panic. Allow them to see you take responsibility.

You are deserving

Worthiness and a feeling of deservedness is powerful. When we feel worthy, we tend to go for healthier relationships and better opportunities. It’s a sort of confidence that prevents us from settling for unhappiness. By teaching your child that they are deserving, you teach them that they can build a life based on their own desires, needs, and choices. They don’t have to beholden to others, and they don’t have to climb some impossible mountain to be loved. They are worthy of love simply for being the good person that they are.

It’s okay to be sad

Emotional awareness is one of the most important skills we can teach our children, but so many parents fail to do this. Why? Because they’re not emotionally aware themselves. Your child needs to know how to deal with their emotions. All of them. The good ones and the bad ones. When your child is sad, you need to tell them that it’s okay to be upset. Then you need to show them effective (and age-appropriate) ways to deal with that sadness. The same goes with anger and every other uncomfortable or negative emotion they may face.

Thank you

Never underestimate the power of gratitude when it comes to raising a child who is happy, confident, and self-assured. When your child does something nice for you, thank them. Make sure they know that you appreciate it when they exert effort or express their emotions appropriately. Thank them for getting up and going to school without a fight in the morning. Thank them for doing well on a test. Thank your child for any good work that they accomplish, and they will learn to show more gratitude toward themselves.

I trust you

Your children need to learn to be responsible for the trust of someone else, which is tied to emotional awareness, compassion, and empathy. To be trusted by someone is to be entrusted with their care. To violate that trust is to hurt them and disrespect them. Teach your child this valuable lesson by teaching them you trust them. Give them freedom to test their values and don’t judge them as they figure out who they are.

Why what you say matters to your kids.

You might think that the above phrases sound cheesy — and you may be right. That cheese goes a long way, though, in giving your child a firm base of love and support on which to build. Everything you do and everything you say matters to your child more than you think. You’re the reference point for everything good (or bad) in their lives, including self-esteem, intimate relationships, and their sense of emotional awareness and control.

1. Creating the first point of self-esteem

Self-esteem is the foundation on which we build our perception of self and perception of the world around us. It determines what kind of jobs we go after, how we perform in school, and even the kind of relationships we form with friends and intimate partners. It’s the doorway to everything good (or bad) in our lives, and this self-esteem is established first by our experiences with our parents.

The parent who runs their child down is a parent who teaches their child to pursue those who rip them apart. The tone you set for your child’s self-esteem now is the one they will spend the rest of their lives perpetuating with their intimate partners and every other authority figure that comes into their lives.

The parent who runs their child down is a parent who teaches their child to pursue those who rip them apart. The tone you set for your child’s self-esteem now is the one they will spend the rest of their lives perpetuating with their intimate partners and every other authority figure that comes into their lives.

Do you want your child to be emotionally strong and self-assured? Do you want them to be able to stick up for themselves? This begins with you as a parent and how you teach them to feel about themselves. Instead of dismissing them and belittling them, embrace your children. Let them know that they are loved exactly as they are and let them know, too, that their worth isn’t based on anyone’s opinion but their own.

2. Setting the tone for future relationships

Parents don’t generally like to take responsibility for the choices that their adult children make, but they play a role nonetheless. Our parents set the tone for our intimate relationships in adulthood. When we have turbulent bonds with one or more of our caretakers, we often find that same dynamic played out over-and-over again the people that we choose to bring closest to us in romantic love (Green and Goldwyn, 2002).

The relationship you share with your child is the one that will set the tone for all their future relationships. If you dominate them and batter them, that is the partner they will seek later. Your poor treatment of them becomes comfortable, and this sets the tone for a tragic life that’s full of heartbreak.

The relationship you share with your child is the one that will set the tone for all their future relationships. If you dominate them and batter them, that is the partner they will seek later. Your poor treatment of them becomes comfortable, and this sets the tone for a tragic life that’s full of heartbreak.

In order to give your child a chance at love and at happiness, you need to give them a stable base of security to work from. They should see what it means to be totally open and honest with someone. They should see you model this behavior not only with them, but in your own intimate relationships as well. What kind of friends are you surrounding yourself with? What kind of lovers? Know that your child sees this, and this sets them on a path for creating the same in their own lives — no matter what you “tell them to do”.

3. Teaching them to manage emotions

Think back to your own childhood. How did your parents deal with their emotions? What did they tell you to do with yours? Has that played out well for you in adulthood? As parents, we set the tone for our children’s emotional stability and awareness. We teach them how to manage, or mismanage, their emotions. When we fly off the handle and blow things out of proportion, guess what? We’re teaching them to do the same.

Your child is not responsible for managing your emotions. It’s not their job to calm you down or make you happy. When you put this responsibility onto your child, you don’t teach them how to manage their own emotions. You teach them that their job is to make everyone else comfortable before themselves.

Your child is not responsible for managing your emotions. It’s not their job to calm you down or make you happy. When you put this responsibility onto your child, you don’t teach them how to manage their own emotions. You teach them that their job is to make everyone else comfortable before themselves.

You are the example that your child will model themselves on for the rest of their lives (whether they know it or not). It is up to you to send them out into the world with a knowledge of self that extends into their awareness of feeling. Are they equipped to manage their anger? Can they face their grief with maturity and compassion? If you don’t have emotional awareness, then how can you teach your child to be emotionally aware and balanced? Like it or not, that is your responsibility when you become a parent.

Putting it all together…

Raising children is the greatest responsibility any single person could take on. Not only are you raising an innocent person and attempting to equip them with the tools they need to survive, you’re also sending another person into the world to live and love among everyone. We owe our children (and our neighbors) the best chance they can get. Doing that, though, means stepping up and letting your child know that you value them and love them.

There are certain things your child needs to hear from you, certain lessons that need to be quietly shared. They need to know that you love them and they need to know that they are important and special just as they are. Tell your children often that they are valuable. Encourage them to become the confident and responsible adult who can be accountable for their mistakes in this life. You are the first reference point for your child’s self-esteem. You are the foundation on which they build all their future relationships. Give them a fighting chance at happiness by setting the right tone and helping them to establish a firm confidence in and awareness of self and their emotions.

  • Green, J., & Goldwyn, R. (2002). Annotation: Attachment disorganisation and psychopathology: new findings in attachment research and their potential implications for developmental psychopathology in childhood. Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 43(7), 835–846. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00102

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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

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