Words You Should Always Say To Your Kids

Jennifer O'Neill

Words You Should Always Say To Your Kids

Photo by Alenavlad/Thinkstock

“I love you,” is a no brainer. But now that praise like, “You’re so smart!” has been shown to undermine motivation and “That’s perfect!” to breed crippling perfectionism, we are left to wonder: What phrasesshould we be feeding those little sponges in our homes? Yahoo Parenting polled child development experts for the go-to words that moms and dads can offer their kids with confidence to encourage and empower them at every age. So go ahead, let ’em fly!

1) Tell Toddlers: “Please do…”
“Toddlers entire lives are about exploration and they’re constantly getting into things,” Positive Parenting Solutions founder and author of “If I Have to Tell You One More Time…” Amy McCready tells Yahoo Parenting. “If they’re constantly told, ‘No, No, Don’t, Don’t,’ it’s really discouraging. Clearly state specifically what you want your child to do and they’re more likely to understand and execute it.” (Think: “Use gentle hands,” instead of, “Don’t hit the cat!”) This age group’s developing command of language requires them to double process what not to do, she explains, adding, “’Do,’ commands make things far less frustrating for children and parents alike.”

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2) Tell preschoolers: “Yes!”
Power struggles can plague young children and their parents but it doesn’t have to be this way. The solution is to find ways to respond to each ask with a “Yes,” says McCready. Is your daughter pleading to ride bikes right when you have to do the Friday grocery run? Instead of saying no, try, “Yes, bike riding sounds awesome! Should we ride on Saturday or Sunday?” Sure, it requires you to think through your answer but the parenting expert assures that with practice, positive responses become natural. Plus, it’s worth the effort, she adds. “All the times you say, ‘No,’ throughout the day invites negotiation, badgering and begging. Hearing ‘yes,’ is more empowering.”

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3) Tell elementary schoolers: “That work really paid off!”
Praise is important, psychologist and “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence” author Dr. Carl Pickhardt tells Yahoo Parenting. “Simple, direct, positive verbal responses to specific actions or decisions your child made build their self-confidence.” For this group, which is receiving grades for the first time, be sure to commend effort over results. “You want to foster what is known as a ‘growth mindset,’” McCready explains. “This implies that when you work hard and get good results, you’re not just smart, you’re capable. Show children that you value their hard work and perseverance and they’ll continue to apply it to school, the soccer field and, even later, on the job.”

4) Tell tweens: “I hear you.”
During the era of rebellion, a little empathy goes a long way. Demonstrate that you recognize what your tween is going through, and McCready swears he won’t act like everything is you against him. “When tweens feel that you’re on their team as difficult issues come up — bullying at school or a new relationship — they’ll be more likely to come to you and open up about it,” he notes. Simply show that you understand where your child is coming from. “Say, ‘I hear you, loading the dishwasher isn’t my favorite chore either. I hear you,” she recommends. “It helps kids feel, ‘Mom gets me!’”

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5) Ask teens: “What’s your plan?”
“We can’t expect teenagers to take responsibility if we don’t give them opportunities to practice it,” says McCready. So well before they drive off to college, begin to transition from telling them what to do to asking lots of questions. “Say, ‘What’s your plan for finishing that project?’ Or, ‘What’s your plan for getting a job this summer? How can I support you in that?’” she explains. “This expresses your confidence that they are capable of coming up with their own strategy and requires them to give you some critical thinking.” Of course they’ll mess things up at times, she adds, but they’ll recognize that you trust them and it’ll build their independence. “Trust is critical,” Dr. Katharine Kersey, author of “The Art of Sensitive Parenting” and a former professor of early childhood education at Old Dominion University, adds for Yahoo Parenting. “If teenagers know that you trust their judgment, it will make them want to live up to the expectations you have of them.”

http://www.yahoo.com/parenting/words-you-should-always-say-to-your-kids-100094381947.html

Author: Lynda LaCour

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