Words….They Do Make a Difference

This past week the issue of “words that were stated” has taken over the news.  Careless words hastily spoken can have a lasting affect on people’s lives, especially the lives of children.  There is the traditional adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”  Unfortunately this saying is not true.  Words do hurt.  In fact, words crush, deflate, separate people, cause all manner of conflict, resentment, shame, betrayal, and I could go on and on.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the parents in today’s world to realize the power that their words have in their children’s lives.  The words that parents express to their children are words that will either build them up and encourage them, or words that will cause them to hesitate out of fear of not measuring up to expectations.  Words that will vocalize the warmth of love and acceptance or utter the coldness of anger and negativism.  Which words do you desire for your children to carry in their memory banks as adults?

In the blog, Parenting From Scratch, I found a post entitled, “Encouraging Things to Say to Kids”.  The post began with a quote from Rudolph Driekurs

“A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.”

After being an educator for 27 years, I will have to agree with Driekurs statement.  A child does need encouragement like a plant needs water.   In fact a child is as thirsty for encouragement, craving and longing for it;  as a sponge takes in water,  soaking it in deeply, so that it fills his or her being.  I have found that encouragement is the best way to relate to and teach children.   As children are being encouraged with the positive steps that they are making in whatever small task that they are undertaking, that paves the way for the more difficult and tedious tasks where they may need more help and instruction.

The author of the post states: “Rather than saying “Good job, that makes me so happy,” I try to find a way to focus on their efforts.  In short, encouraging statements keep the task/action/problem/accomplishment about the child, not about the parent. Every positive discipline tool is designed to encourage children, help them feel capable, and connect us closer to each other.  All of the following phrases acknowledge and appreciate something positive about a child and are encouraging words to hear:

  • I love you.
  • I’m sure you can find a way to solve this problem.
  • Boy, you have worked so hard on that!  It really shows.
  • I have faith that you will figure it out.
  • I know that you don’t like doing this, and I thank you for doing it anyway.  It really helps.
  • The amount of detail that you added to this drawing makes it seem so life-like.
  • You must feel really proud of yourself right now!
  • I’ve noticed that you have been working really hard at learning to cut your own food.
  • You did it!
  • Thank you for putting all of your towels in the laundry basket.  It helps us get ready much faster.
  • Trust yourself.
  • It sounds like your body is trying to tell you something.
  • I noticed how long you stuck with that.
  • You have a right to feel angry.
  • I can tell that some special mom/dad time would help you right now.
  • How do you feel about what you have accomplished?
  • I appreciate your cooperation.
  • Thanks for helping.
  • What do you think?
  • What do you need to accomplish your goal?
  • I’m listening.
  • That was hard for you; thank you!
  • I can see you are really angry right now, and that’s O.K.
  • What would you do about it?
  • I just want to sit and be close to you for a few minutes.
  • It’s O.K. to be sad.
  • I appreciate your setting the table so neatly.
  • WOW!
  • I know you are upset.  I would be too.
  • You can  try again tomorrow.
  • What is your understanding of what needs to happen?
  • Your piggy bank is getting really full; it must have taken you a long time to save all that.
  • You decide.
  • I have faith that we can find a respectful solution.
  • Look at what you have accomplished!
  • You are capable.
  • Thank you for getting dressed so quickly.
  • I noticed that you gave your toy to that boy when he was sad.  I bet it helped him feel better.
  • What is your plan for getting this done?
  • I’m sorry.
  • I love you.
  • Lead the way.

What wonderful examples that we were presented from the blog of positive words to utilize with our children!

On the other hand, let me pass on a selection of phrases that you should never say to your kids.  These phrases appeared in a post that I viewed on Facebook that originally came from Redbook Magazine.  The article was entitled“50 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to Your Kids” by Betsy Farrell.  Here are some of the statements that I found to be most noteworthy.

  • B” is fine but an “A” is better.
  • You make me so mad!
  • Don’t eat that or you’ll get FAT!
  • You’re FAT!
  • I’m so FAT I need to go on a DIET!
  • I used drugs/smoked when I was a kid.
  • It’s not that big of a deal.
  • You’re so lazy!
  • Why do I have to tell you everything 100 times?
  • Big boys/girls don’t get scared.
  • Stop being such a BABY!
  • You’re being RIDICULOUS!
  • Stop being so SELFISH and NEEDY!
  • You better do what I say or else!
  • It’s MY  WAY or the HIGHWAY!
  • That’s the way I WAS RAISED and I turned out fine.
  • I hate it when you…(Insert bad behavior here.)
  • Shame on you!
  • UGH!  You’re just like your mother/father!
  • I told you so!
  • I wish you were more like…( Insert other kid’s name here.)
  • Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?
  • That’s not good enough!

I literally was cringing as I was typing the statements above.  They wounded my heart and spirit just expressing them on the page.  I have seen the power that statements such as these have had on children’s lives.  Children have grown up with poor self-esteem; filled with shame and guilt, unsure of their own talents and abilities.  They have grown into adults who were often angry at the world and others, or angry at themselves for never measuring up.

Thus, it’s in your hands, parents, what “words” that you want to resonate in your children’s heads.  Words of praise that establish a good self-esteem and are uplifting, or words that can be stated carelessly that wound the heart and cause shame.

Additionally, I have found that when I have based my identity on the words that are found in the Bible, that my mind has been transformed.  I rise to a new level, finding my identity from who God says that I am.  These Biblical concepts, when stated and explained to my children have had lasting effects in their lives.  For these words were not from the lips of parents, but from the breath of God; from the Creator who created our children and knows them more intimately than anyone on earth.  God’s words were meant to intersect with our children’s lives; because He desires a relationship with each of them.  He loves them and has a plan for a hope and a future for every child born on this planet.  

  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
  • I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3
  • Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:8
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
  • “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23
  • For He Himself is our peace.”  Ephesians 2:14
  • Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children, and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2
  • “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without a fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”  Philippians 2:14-15
  • “And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.”  Philippians 1:9-10
  • “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Here are some resources that may be helpful.

64 Positive Things to Say to Kids

Positive Affirmation Notes for Kids: Lunchbox Love

10 Simple Bible Verses for Young Children


May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand.

Debra Smith













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