After I tuck my kids into bed every night, I collapse on the couch, close my eyes, and sigh.  Unfortunately, with four kids, I get about 2.7 seconds of peace before one of them asks for another drink of water, needs an extra hug, or remembers a month-long school project that’s due tomorrow.

But after a few turns on the bedtime merry-to-round, I can finally sink back into the couch. That’s when the replay of our day starts in my head.  It’s like a 10x sped-up video, but every time my mouth opens to say something to my kids, the video slows down so I can hear myself.

“Put your shoes away.”
“Your room is a mess!”
“Stop bugging your sister.”
“You haven’t brushed your teeth yet?”

My own personal highlight reel of nagging and negativity, directed at the people I love most in the world.

The weight of my words crushes my chest, and my mind scrambles to remember: when did I say something loving, something sweet, anything positive?

Was I so focused on treading water in a never-ending sea of parental to-dos – getting snacks, folding laundry, mediating sibling squabbles – that I forgot to tell my children how much I love them?

My kids deserve better. They deserve to hear every single day that no matter what road bumps we hit, I feel lucky to be on this lifelong road trip with them.

But There’s A Slight Problem

It’s heart-breaking to think that your child’s last thought after you tuck them in at night and before they fall asleep may be: Is Mommy mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Does Daddy still love me?

What’s more, lack of connection with your child also leads to more unnecessary power struggles and less cooperation from your child when you ask them to clean their toys up, to help empty the dishwasher, or to stop chewing their food like a cow with a megaphone.

But as parents in today’s world, we have a lot on our plates. Because of that, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the daily struggles of parenting that you forget to stop and tell your child how much you love them.

When you have too much to do and too little time to do it, you are in survival mode not nurturing mode. And those positive sayings for kids like “You’re important to me” and “I love you to the moon and back” that our children crave from us? They go unsaid.

How Important Is It to Share Positive Words for Kids?

Recently, I came across this quote from a doctor and author who specializes in childhood development and trauma: “Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experienced by the child.” – Dr. Gabor Mate.

In other words, those positive messages for kids don’t work when you just think them to yourself after your kids are tucked into bed.  You need to actually say them out loud.

I realised it was time for a change.

Because the research is crystal clear that when kids feel warmth and affection from their parents, that has a life-long impact on the child.

Not only do kids with affectionate parents do better in school and develop a healthy self-esteem, they also end up emotionally happier and less anxious as adults.  Parental warmth has an impact on your child’s physical health.

And so the important question is: When you’re busy and overwhelmed and just impaled your left foot on a stray Lego, how can you remember to say out loud all the positive things you should say to your child to remind them of your unconditional love?

Here’s A Quick Fix For Every Busy Parent

This is easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of parenting life, so I decided to set up a visual cue.  Something to serve as a gentle reminder for me to switch out of survival mode a few times a day and fill my children’s tank with unconditional love.

Because when you’re trying to stick to a habit, research shows that a visual cue can remind you of your intention when you’re most likely to forget it.

For example:

  • If you set a goal to eat healthier, you could leave a note on your fridge to remind yourself that “Snack = Veggies only.”
  • Or, if you wanted to stick to an exercise routine every morning, you could set your workout clothes on your nightstand the night before.

For my visual cue, I made a nice printable list of all the positive things to say to your child to show them you love them.  I can stick this list of positive words for kids on my fridge, tape it to my bathroom mirror, or leave it on the driver’s seat of my car as a reminder every time we get in the car to go somewhere.

Try Some of These…

  1. You are important to me.
  2. I love spending time with you.
  3. You make me smile.
  4. I love you no matter what.
  5. I feel so lucky to be your mom/dad.
  6. I’m proud of the person you are.
  7. You are beautiful to me, inside and out.
  8. You can always talk to me, even if it’s about something that makes you nervous or scared or sad.
  9. I’m grateful that you’re in my life.
  10. I’m here for you, no matter what happens.

Visual Clues Have One Weakness

After a while, they become wallpaper. In other words, after you get used to seeing the cue in your environment, the cue stops reminding you. And this list of positive words for kids is not immune to this phenomenon.

But there’s a simple fix: When the cue stops catching your eye, just move it to a different spot or change the cues 😊.

Best Time To Use Positive Words For Kids

Here are a few ideas for how to work these positive messages for kids into your days:

  • Surprise your child by saying their name out of the blue, then saying a phrase – bonus point if you bend down and get on their eye level first.
  • Pick a different phrase to say at bedtime every night while tucking your child in – say it with a smile or whisper it while you give a big bear hug.
  • If you’ve had a moment of disconnection like a disagreement or power struggle, deliver kind words with a hug, back rub, or pat on the shoulder.
  • When you notice your child seems sad or upset.

Give it a try!  And think of your own favourite positive words or phrases for kids!

Article adapted for from Kelly Holmes – Certified Parent Educator and author of Happy You, Happy Family.