I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Attachment Parenting” floating around the parent-sphere (and if not, you can learn about it here). It’s the idea that nurturing and caring for our children physically as well as emotionally is key to helping them develop into well-balanced individuals.
Providing emotional support is so much more than what we physically do with our children – what we say, and how we say it, is vitally important for their emotional well-being.
You may have come across articles or infographics that outline the “Say This Don’t Say That” rules of properly parenting your children. I’m here to call applesauce on that!
There’s no need to constantly censor what you say and how you say it. Doing so will likely drive you mad.
Be an Emotional Coach
When communicating with your children, remember to be empathetic to their feelings and don’t say anything to them you wouldn’t want said to you.
Think of yourself as a coach – you are here to guide and teach your child as they navigate the big, scary world of feelings. This happens when you are aware of your child’s feelings, help them label their emotions and then guide them through the experience.
Instead of over-thinking each and every thing you say to your child, add these 5 phrases to your repertoire instead:
5 Power Parenting Phrases
1: “I need you to…/ You have to…”
When you expect your child to do something, you need to make those requests clear and non-optional. As soon as you ASK your child to do something, you are giving them an opportunity to say “no”.
Setting clear expectations for your child gives them a solid path in which to navigate the world. Their learning and development thrives on routine and expectation.
2: “I love to watch you…”
Using this phrase shows your child that you are watching and enjoying what you see. Most kids who act out or misbehave often are seeking attention – and they know they’ll get it by acting in a negative way. By praising your child for the good things they do, they are learning more positive ways to seek that attention.
And, by using this phrase, you are reinforcing good behaviour which means your child is likely to repeat it.
3: “How can I help?”
In order to encourage our children to be responsible and independent, we can’t be constantly swooping in to rescue them when they struggle.
From the arduous task of tying a shoe, to the imminent conflicts between friends, you should always be mindful of asking if you can help before jumping in and solving all of their problems.
By specifically asking “how” you can help, you are providing your child an opportunity to think of solutions on their own.
4: “Good job…”
When providing feedback to your child, make sure you are specific and honest. Throwing out a “good job” is okay, but finish that phrase with the exact thing they did that they were good at.
Focus on their effort and progress instead of the end goal. For example, if your little one ties his own shoes, you could say something like: “Good job making the loops with your shoelaces before tying them together!”
I know it sounds exhausting but it’s not something you have to do for each and every success. If you know your child particularly struggled to accomplish something, throw some praise on the journey to get there.
5: “I love you.”
I know we all say this to our children, but sometimes it becomes a bit routine – when we drop them off at school, when we tuck them into bed at night, when they go out to play with their friends.
It seems we always use this phrase when our children are leaving our presence but it’s important to say “I love you”, with meaning, as often as we can.
The next time you and your child have a blow-out, remind them that you love them. When your little one accomplishes something amazing, tell them you love them. When they are engaged in mundane tasks, throw it out there.
Sometimes, when my daughter is watching a show, I’ll go “Psst!” and she’ll look up and say, “I know you love me, Mama.”