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The Power of Words

Our words can promote and inspire our children to lift their behaviour, but they can also deflate, infuriate and lock in the wrong behaviour


  1. “I am going to give you another go at that. You have not shown your true colours yet.
  2. “You are a bright girl/boy so I am not going to need to remind you on this one.”
  3. “This is a challenge – but I reckon you are up to it.”


  1. “What on earth did you do that for?”
  2. “How many times do I need to repeat this before you get it?”
  3. “I am fed up with you and your behaviour.”

This was a recent tip we heard from Parents Inc which really hit home. Words are so powerful, yet so often we open our mouths and constantly spout forth negative language, then wonder why our kids aren’t responding!

How often do you talk to your children and what kind of ‘conversation’ are you having? If you have fallen into the trap of constantly being negative with them, what can you do to turn things around?

  • Stop & listen to yourself – kind of an ‘out of body experience’ if you can…imagine what it might feel like to be the child on the other side.
  • Is your frustration justified? Most often it is e.g. They aren’t doing their homework, they aren’t keeping their room clean, they leave stuff all over the house, treat you like a taxi service etc. But sometimes we just get stuck in the negative, not ‘picking our battles’ but going after everything and anything that is wrong.
  • Look for the positive. What are they doing right? How can you encourage them to do more of this? Are you being too impatient & not letting them learn from their mistakes?
  • Make it a family rule not to talk down to each other & to stop saying things like ‘you are stupid/useless/waste of space.’ If you or anyone else uses this kind of language (or worse!) to other members of the family, make a point of saying sorry. You can’t take the words back once they are out there, but you can tell them you were wrong. All kids have value, they are all different, with a range of skills & abilities – and they are all amazing.
  • Never ever give up. Kids need to know that you will love them no matter what.
  • Encourage. Encourage. Encourage. Let your words make a difference.

Here are some ideas for you to poach and use with complete abandon – set yourself a challenge to use at least one of these phrases every day for the next week…

  • Your skills are really improving; you are amazing!
  • How kind of you to share toys with your friend/sister/brother. That’s very generous.
  • You are taking really good care of your pet. He’s so lucky to have you!
  • Now that’s what I call a thorough job! Thanks for picking up your toys. It is a great help.
  • That’s a great effort; don’t worry about that small mistake. Everyone makes them, you did really well!
  • Keep at it; I know you’ll figure it out. Can I help or shall I leave you to it?
  • I love the sound of your voice.
  • I remember when you were first learning that. You’ve come a long way.
  • You’re so fun around the house; life would be boring without you!
  • What would I have done without you today? Thanks for helping me with that job.
  • I’m so proud to tell people I’m your Dad.
  • You are really patient, well done for sticking with it & learning all your spelling words.
  • I’ve never thought of it that way. How creative!
  • You’re doing a great job of controlling your anger.
  • You’re on the right track! That’s using your brain.
  • You’ve put a lot of careful thought into that.
  • Way to go! Excellent! Superb! Amazing! Fantastic!
  • Hey, you’re getting the hang of it! Your practice is really paying off.
  • Now that’s an interesting point. Thanks for sharing it.
  • You solved your problem; how clever!
  • That is wonderful! Your confidence is really showing!
  • I love your sense of humour. How do you think up those jokes?
  • You hang in there when the going gets tough. You’re a strong person.
  • Look how much progress you’ve made. You should be proud.
  • Hey, relax for a while; you deserve a break.
  • I really enjoyed your performance. No one could have done it better.
  • Keep trying; I know you can work this frustrating problem out.
  • It’s a real gift to me when you do your chores without being reminded.
  • Congratulations, you can be proud of your achievement!
  • I love watching you grow up. You never cease to amaze me.
  • You are such an interesting person.
  • I love you, totally, completely, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…I will never stop loving you.

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