I’m pretty sure half the stuff I tell my kids goes in one ear and out the other, but on the off chance that they hear even half of what I tell them, I want to make sure my words count – that my words have an impact on their little lives.
10 Things Kids Always Need to Hear from Their Parents:
1. “I’m proud of you.”
Tell your kids that you are proud of them, not just for the things they accomplish but, more importantly, for who they are as individuals. All children desperately long for the approval of their parents– even teenagers who pretend that they don’t care. Telling them you’re proud of them for who they are will make them feel safe and keep them from chasing after accomplishments for the sake of winning your approval.
2. “Don’t give up.”
One of the most important things a parent can teach his child is perseverance. My 4-year-old is constantly learning new things, but often he tells me that what he’s learning is “too hard,” and he’s ready to give up and move on to something else, but I don’t want him to give up and move on to something else just because it’s hard. That’s a mentality far too many people have today, and it’s to their detriment. Rather, as parents, it’s our job to encourage our kids to keep trying and keep working on developing new skills, knowing that they are learning perseverance along with the new skill set.
3. “Be yourself.”
All too often, kids get caught up in trying to fit in with the crowd, and they need a little encouragement from their parents to step outside the crowd and just be themselves– with their unique personalities, hobbies, and interests.
4. “Be kind to others.”
Of course, most parents teach their children to be kind to others, but what we say as parents, doesn’t always match up with what we actually do. When we aren’t kind to our spouse, our neighbors, or other people in our lives, our children see that, and they learn from our actions that they don’t actually have to be kind to everyone. We need to teach our kids (with actions and words) to be kind to all people, even people who aren’t like us.
5. “Go play outside.”
Kids need time outside to play, get dirty, run around, and to be creative. Don’t be afraid to turn off the TV, iPad, or computer, and make your kid play outside (assuming the weather is cooperative). If my kids tell me they’re bored, there is a remedy for that, “go play outside!”
6. “Save your money.”
My 4-year-old son wants to buy a pet mouse named “Kennedy,” and though that would probably be my last choice (in terms of pets), we’ve told him that if he does his chores and saves his money, then he can buy that little mouse. Everyday he asks to do chores so that he can earn what he calls his “mouse money.” He’s learning that real things cost real money, and that you have to work to make money. But when that day finally comes and he saves enough money to buy the mouse, and the cage, and all the little mouse accessories, I’ll gladly take him to the pet store and let him buy little Kennedy.
If I never told my kids “no” then they would eat ice cream for every meal, go to bed whenever they wanted, and, ultimately, chaos would run our home. Parents need to be parents, and kids need to have boundaries. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids “no” when they need to hear it. They may not appreciate in the moment, but they will learn that they don’t get to run the show or do whatever they want. And, trust me, that is an important lesson that will serve them well the rest of their lives.
8. “I’m Sorry.”
Parents, we need to get off our high horses and apologize to our kids if we wrong them. Too often, parents have the “I’m the parent, and you’re the child” attitude, and they refuse to apologize, asserting their parental rights. It’s imperative that we change this attitude, and ask our kids’ forgiveness when we wrong them. It’s okay (and actually good) for our kids to know we aren’t perfect. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids, “I’m sorry.”
9. “Once upon a time…”
It’s incredibly important, especially for parents of young children, to spend time every day reading or telling stories to their children. Reading and story telling opens kids’ imaginations and teaches them the power of creativity. Plus, bedtime is a great time for parents to invest emotionally in their children– talking to them about their day and looking forward to the plans for the next. As parents it’s easy to rush this time, so we can have some “me” time once the kids have gone to bed, but your child will appreciate and value the time you spend with him or her. Plus, we can’t forget, these little ones grow up fast, and we’ll soon miss putting them to bed.
10. “I love you and I always will.”
Tell your kids you love them so much that they start rolling their eyes or saying, “I know! You tell me a thousand times a day.” Leave no doubt in their minds that you love them and always will. Say it ritually – when they leave for school or at bedtime – but also when they don’t expect it and when they’ve done nothing to earn it. These are the most powerful words a parent can say to a child, and a child can’t hear it enough from his parents!
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