When you look at the whole scheme of parenting, it can feel overwhelming. You’re responsible for this whole new person — and decisions you make can have a huge impact on how they grow up, how they feel about themselves and how well they do in life. Crazy, right? With all that riding on parenting, it’s no wonder why we all want to make sure we’re doing the best we can.
A few years ago, there was a weird shift in parenting that I noticed. There were parents who wanted to give their kids everything so they would always say “yes” and never wanted to use the word “no”. Then, another group felt that giving their kids enforcement like “good job” was setting them up for expectations that were not “real world” enough.
When I first became a parent, I was reading all this stuff wondering how best to talk to my kids — how much positive reinforcement to give them so they felt loved, yet didn’t lower expectations. I wanted to do the best that I could and give my kids the best they could have — and I lost sight of one real thing. Kids are human and so am I. I let go of all those “how to talk to your kids” rules and realized that the 8 phrases I was afraid to say — are actually healthy for my kids to hear.
1) “I’m sorry”
I have really learned that kids learn best through modeling. One manner that I have wanted them to have is the ability to apologize and to say sorry when needed. I would instruct them to say sorry when I felt they needed, yet didn’t really say it much myself. Now, if I’ve done something wrong, forgotten something or was out of line — with my kids — I am not afraid to say that I’m sorry.
It was a word I thought I shouldn’t say to my kids, but I am not afraid to use it anymore. It’s followed up with an explanation but I believe that this is not a bad word and in my opinion, it’s better than the “because I said so” many parents use.
3) “Good job!”
You know what? I love hearing when I am doing a good job — in work, life or anything. I like to hear positive feedback and it does a good thing for the spirit. I don’t know if I understand why many don’t think this is a good thing to say to kids, but I think positive enforcement can go a long way for kids self-esteem and it makes my kid’s face glow when they’re told they’re doing well.
4) “I don’t know”
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t want my kids to think I do. If they ask something I don’t have the answer to — I feel no shame telling them that I don’t know. Sometimes we will talk about what we think it means and sometimes we will look it up. For me, this is an important one for my son to hear me say since he gets upset if he doesn’t know something he thinks he should.
5) “Can you play alone for a minute?”
I don’t have to entertain my kids every moment of every day — and I don’t. I think unstructured alone play is important and healthy for both the kids and for me. I ask them to play alone (or better yet, with each other) daily and don’t feel bad about it at all. Neither should you!
6) “I’m so proud of you”
The look my kids get on their face when I tell them I am proud of them means the world to me and it’s amazing to see. I think so often we’re busy parenting through re-direction and telling kids what they should be doing differently and this positive statement can make a huge difference.
7) “Yes, I made a mistake”
I am not perfect — far from it. If I lose my temper with the kids (hello, Clomid makes me a bit loopy), I am not afraid to tell them that I’ve made a mistake and then #2 comes back into play here too and I apologize. It’s a great way to model this behavior for my kids and shows them that time goes on when you’ve made a mistake.
8) “Just wait a moment, please”
My kids don’t dictate my time and if I am busy with something and they want my attention, I’m not afraid to ask them to wait a minute. Whether I am busy working for a moment, focusing on dinner or just need a few minutes of quiet — asking them to wait is perfectly okay to do.
Photo credit: adapted from LarimdaME /FlickrShare This Post: Tweet