5 Critical Things to Say to Your Child and 5 to Avoid


As mothers, our words have limitless power. They can build up our littles, teach them to love themselves and others, or tear them down, and teach judgement and intolerance. So, as mothers, we have the collective responsibility to be mindful of those words; to use them for good.

Want to raise good humans?

things to say5 things to say to your littles…

1. “I love you”

You really can’t say this too much. But this phrase is especially helpful when your little has failed or made a mistake in some way. Reassuring that you still love them (and always will love them) has a such a lasting impact. 

2. “I’m sorry”

Let’s face it, us mommas aren’t perfect. When we lose it, we should just own it. Saying “I’m sorry,” when we’ve yelled, failed or been unfair, shows them that we are human and gives them the example of the kind empathetic behavior that we expect from our littles.

3. “Why do YOU think?”

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked “why” in a day. It is time to start asking them back whatever their “why?” question is. It gets them to start to process the answers, builds their confidence and inspires them to be more self reliant. Inspiring your little to question the world is not a bad thing, trust me. 

4. “I noticed…”

As in, I noticed that you did a great job making your friend feel better today.” As parents we are used to boosting our littles’ confidence with your basic “good job” and then being done with it. But Momma, kids know authentic compliments from the lazy ones and it loses its meaning. Try to give context next time you compliment and you too will notice the difference. 

You can also notice the absence of unwanted behavior, “I noticed you didn’t take your sister’s toy, even thought you wanted it.” All this helps build a solid and clear narrative for your child and reinforces the positive behavior the you expect.

5. “Five minute warning!”

Transitions are hard for our littles, I know it is hard to remember that far back but children don’t live in a land of schedules and timezones. Giving your little a five minute warning helps them to prepare for the next transition from a playdate, or school, or to bath and bedtime. With these warnings (and I often remind them at two and one minutes too), you are helping children wrap up their projects and mentally prepare for what’s next. This, of course, can help lessen resistance and tantrums when those transitions occur.

5 Things to Avoid Saying to Your Little

1. Don’t compare.

“Why can’t you be more like your friend at school,” pretty much inspires no one, creates competition and animosity and achieves the opposite of the result you were hoping for. It also makes your little feel small and unworthy. We are all unique and comparing will often create a bad habit they shouldn’t have as they get older. (Yes, we should probably stop doing it to ourselves too.)

2. Don’t shame.

Someone once told me that shame is the most powerful arsenal in the parenting tool house that is abused by most parents. Shame makes children either feel badly about themselves or badly about you, (not quite what we were going for here.) And the weight of it can become internalized for years. (Same thing for number 1 applies here too, we should probably stop doing it to ourselves.) 

3. Don’t overly praise.

“You’re the best!” “Great job!” “So awesome!”

Everything is not at the same caliber of awesome, so accurately praising your little versus over-praising them will help them trust your feedback, lessen their inflated senses of selves and actually help them feel more comfortable taking risks. This is a good thing, momma! We want to empower our littles but not give them this false sense of entitlement. 

4. Don’t call them your BFF.

Your little is your child, not your bestie. We need to ensure that they understand the two. 

Confusing friendship with being a mom is to set yourself (and your little) up for relationships with often confusing boundaries.

Best friends are people you confide in, turn to in need and can count on. These are not roles you should expect of your children so why call them that? You choose your friends, not your family. So while the intent may be to allude to closeness and love, the actual term is just plain inappropriate. 

5. Don’t be mean.

The rule should be, “Don’t do anything to your kids that you wouldn’t want a stranger to do to your kids.”

This includes rough handling, spanking, teasing, mocking, and any other behavior that comes from anger and/or resentment.

Raising children is difficult! If you need to take a break from your kids before you literally explode, do it. (No shame Momma). Your children are watching and learning from you. If you are mean, they will likely learn that behavior too – which will lead to a lot of unwanted behavior. Instead, remember that kindness, love, compassion, and communication are keys to earning cooperation and respect. Both ways.