“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” —Frederick Douglass
That quote keeps me going on the days where I feel like my kids just aren’t listening. It gives me strength to keep hammering home those lessons I am desperate for them to learn.
Although I feel at times like my words are going in one ear and out the other, there are moments when I realize they are listening—carefully. Our children are like sponges. They absorb what words we deliver to them and they learn to internalize the messages. I sincerely believe that the best way to build up strong children is to speak positive messages to them.
No matter where we are—in the car on the way to school, lounging in the house on a lazy Sunday morning—I’m always looking for opportunities to build them up. Here’s some of the phrases my kids hear most often:
1. “I love you.”
It always breaks my heart when I hear from one of my friends that they never heard “I love you” from their parents. It’s so simple. Don’t worry about saying it too much. It is worth repeating over and over. When someone takes the time to tell you how much you mean to them, it sticks with you.
2. “You don’t need to try to earn my love and approval. I love you just as you are.”
This was a big one for me because I spent a lot of time growing up chasing approval. I would become a chameleon to be whatever I thought people expected from me. Was I the book smart girl who had all the answers to last night’s chemistry homework or the party girl who would give all her friends a ride to the club on Saturday? I would change my personality at the drop of a hat to fit in, and I don’t want my kids to feel like who they are isn’t good enough.
3. “I’m here to support you.”
It feels good to lean on someone and to know that they have your back. My parents were, and still are, my biggest supporters. They were front and center at all my events and never failed to let me know how proud they were. I hope my children understand that Mommy is their biggest cheerleader.
4. “I prayed for you today.”
This is an underrated one, in my opinion. When I pray for my husband and let him know I put in a message to God on his behalf, let me tell you that it improves the mood in our house greatly. My children appreciate the gesture as well, even as they are still figuring out their spirituality. If you believe in a higher power, praying for someone is the ultimate way to say “I love you.”
5. “Everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay. Now tell me what did you learn from that?”
As a child, I would beat myself up if I got something wrong or if I made a mistake. But it was helpful to know that mistakes are simply a part of life. You can dwell on it or you can learn from it. Being able to own up to your mistakes is a critical skill a lot of adults lack.
Now it’s your turn – what do you pledge to tell your kids more often?