Children hear more than we give them credit for. Just ask any parent who has accidentally let out a swear word while driving in traffic. We know what we shouldn’t be saying around them, but what should we be saying to our kids every day?
Please, take the time to read this and remind yourself that you are doing everything right, even if you sometimes drop the F bomb at the wrong time.
1. It’s okay to be upset
Learning to control one’s emotions is a hard lesson. I’m 32 and still haven’t mastered it. Let your kids know it’s okay to feel anxious, sad, angry, jealous, frustrated and all of those other yucky emotions. It’s how we learn to overcome these feelings and move forward that matters.
2. I am here for you
You are there to talk, to cuddle, to simply sit in the room next to them until they are ready to face the world. With you beside them, life is so much easier for them to tackle.
3. I will play with you
You can’t say yes every time they ask you to play. But try, if you can, to play with them every single day, even if it’s just for a few moments. Those five minutes of moulding dough into pigs, drawing pictures of rainbows or racing cars across the room means the world to them.
4. It’s okay to make mistakes
No one is perfect. And no one is going to be the best at everything. It’s okay to struggle with certain things and it’s okay to make mistakes. All children need to know that.
5. Thank you
Even if all your child did was put his clothes in the laundry bin (and not on the floor right beside the laundry bin), a thank you a day goes a long way. Add a few ‘pleases’ in every day too.
6. I understand
All children deserve to know that they are being listened to and that their opinions matter (even when their requests are completely ridiculous). But before you say no to allowing your child to eat chocolate for breakfast, explain that you do understand, you are listening, but, no, that’s simply not going to happen.
Because it’s unhealthy. And because you ate all the chocolate last night anyway.
7. You make me proud
For winning an award, for reading a book, for helping out, for going to the toilet without requesting you to wipe his bottom – these moments are ones that make parents proud. Knowing you are backing them up, no matter what, will help them build confidence.
8. You are stronger than you think
And smarter. And braver. Because children do not come out of the womb thinking these thoughts. It’s up to us to help them realise just how amazing they are.
9. Take your time
Remind your kids that you are willing to wait for them. Every child learns things differently. What matters is that they are moving ahead, even if it’s at a slower pace than some of the rest.
10. It’s okay to be different
After all, ‘normal’ is only a mode on the washing machine.
11. I love you
Because you do. And you always will. And, even when your children roll their eyes at you (and tell you, “Yes, mum, I know that already”), deep down, they need to hear it.
Every single day.
Our role as parents is harder than most of us thought it was going to be. Yes, our main goal is to keep them alive (nailing it!), but we all want to raise our children to be happy, healthy, confident and caring. And often it’s what we say that instils these values.
No matter what you are saying – all the right things and sometimes the wrong ones – know that you’re doing a great job. This is something you probably don’t hear every day, but it’s something you need to keep in the back of your mind at all times.
Because, to your children, it’s an important truth.
This story was originally published on July 22, 2016.