Children hear a lot of things during the course of a day. Each and every word makes a lasting impact. Parents, teachers, coaches, advisors, and mentors must choose their words carefully. We aren’t always going to have the right words at the right time, but we always need to try. Here are six things I think children need to hear more often:
1) Yes! We want to keep children safe and prevent them from becoming unruly and spoiled. The word “No” is often set as default. I think children need to hear ‘Yes’ more often. You don’t have to give in to every request, just quantify when they can do something. “Dad, can I go to a friend’s house?” Try, “Yes, but not today. When your room is clean ask me again for another day.”
2) I Make Mistakes Too! Children need to know that everyone makes mistakes, and that failing is the pathway to success. We want students to accept and demonstrate responsibility, show leadership, and try new things. When we as adults use the wrong words we need to let children know we made a mistake for that too.
3) You Can Accomplish Anything! I use to think everyone heard this from their parents. By the end of my first year of teaching, now twenty, I knew this isn’t true. This really was a great gift my parents gave me. I placed no limitations on my future. I dreamt big, and went after and achieved goals that really should have been unobtainable. Remind children every day that they too are limitless despite any odds or environment. Remind them they can accomplish anything.
4) How Can I Help You? Children need to understand that they can always ask for help, but also need to know that we aren’t going to give them the answer or do the work for them. In the age of Google,answers sometimes come too quickly. Let a child know you are willing to lend a hand when they get frustrated, but at the same time you’re excited to see what they can do independently. Solutions don’t always have to be immediate. Help them understand the process of discovery, questioning, learning, and reflection through collaboration.
5) Thank You! There are many positive ways to express this sentiment. Let a child hear you tell them they did a great job or that you like they way they said or did something and you will give them the equivalent of a 5 Hour Energy Drink for their confidence. Even better, brag on them to a third party. This is the biggest reward a child can receive. A thank-you can arrive in different packages, and they are fun to open at any age. A thank-you to a child can mold their behavior and attitude on the world. (And they’re free, so give a lot of them.)
6) You Are Loved! Can anyone ever hear this enough? Sometimes we need to tell children we love them, and sometimes we need to remind them that others love them. (You know, in that non-creepy way.) As a mentor, coach, teacher, or advisor, we may need to remind a child that even though their parent, or another person in their life was hard on them, or held them to a higher standard, it was an act of love. Children and teenagers sometimes need a little perspective from a third party to see how high standards are indeed acts of love.
I’ve put my foot in my mouth plenty of times and had regrets about some of the comments I have made. My intentions were always to challenge others to become their best, but it didn’t always come out the way I wanted. The art of communication is one we must continually practice and adjust. This list serves as a reminder to me to be quick to correct and find words of encouragement. What would you add? What do you believe every child needs to hear?
Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.
He has entertained and amazed audiences across the nation
including corporations, schools, churches, conferences,
and anywhere people come together to be entertained and inspired.
Please consider booking Kelly for your next event.