The words we use with our children are important. Choosing the right words and phrases can increase connection while at the same time boosting communication. According to the experts, here are five phrases that will transform your relationship with your child, opening the door for conversations of a lifetime.
1. You should be proud of yourself!
Amy McCready, a parenting coach and founder of PositiveParentingSolutions.com, recommends this simple phrase: “The next time your child does something worth celebrating, resist the urge to say ‘I’m so proud of you,’ and instead, tell them they should be proud of themselves!”
Parents are charged with building their children’s self-esteem. Celebrate with them by letting them know that you are not only proud of them, but that they should be proud of themselves too. A positive sense of self-esteem builds a foundation for great things to come.
2. I hear ya!
According to McCready, a hearty, enthusiastic “I hear ya!” can be great way to minimize complaining.
“The next time your kids complain about homework, taking a bath, or cleaning their rooms, try saying ‘I hear ya, I don’t love to clean my room either!’” she said, adding: “Sometimes, kids just want to know that you get it.”
“I hear ya” is a way to validate your children’s emotion. It is a way to let them know that you are tuned-in to their emotions and that you do indeed understand what they are going through and what they feel.
3. What is your plan for______?
Instead of reminding your child to do something, they may surely take it as nagging and put up a resistant front, use this phrase instead.
“The next time you’re tempted to remind your child about something, use this phrase instead. For example, rather than reminding your child about the impending due date on the science project, ask: ‘What is your plan for finishing your science project?’” McCready said.
By doing this, you are putting the responsibility of the task back on the child and letting them take ownership of it. You are letting them know that you trust them to get it done. And on the flip side, you are also becoming less of a micromanager.
4. Anything you could do to help with ______ would be awesome.
“During the course of any day, we parents tend to do a lot of ‘directing’ with our kids — telling them what they need to do, asking them to help out, etc.,” McCready said. “With this phrase, you adapt your tone of voice and the words you choose to be inviting rather than demanding.”
Let children be a part of the work. Parents should not have to do everything. From young up until the teenage years, having them help with tasks teaches them a lot that they will carry on into adulthood. Make sure that you let them know that they are doing a great job at whatever they help you with. They will be proud of both you and themselves.
5. What was the most exciting/frustrating part of your day?
The older they get, the harder it is to get them to open up about their day. The Child Mind Institute recommends asking them, “What was the most exciting/frustrating part of your day?” or some variation there of.
“Checking in with kids around how they’re feeling about school, friends, or what they’re interested in (or totally bored with) is the best way to make sure you’re getting the full scoop when it comes to your child’s mental health.”
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