5 Powerful Words to Say to Your Child Everyday


You know that moment when your kid comes to you, face glowing with inspiration and says something like, “Dad, I think I want to learn how to play the piccolo!”  And you respond, “Great! I happen to know someone who knows someone who plays the piccolo.  Maybe we give them a call and how about we search online for a 2nd hand piccolo.  And didn’t I see a flyer about a  kid’s band camp happening next month?  Let’s check that out.”  Pausing for breath you notice the glazed look on your child’s face and you realize you did it again, parental enthusiasm overboard.  Your child hands up in self-defense slowly backs out of the room saying. “Um, I take it back.  Actually, I’m not interested anymore.  No piccolo for me.”  

Here’s another scenario.  Your child comes to you in tears of frustration saying, “Mom, there are too many lines to memorize.  I can’t do it.  It has to be perfect for dress rehearsal by tomorrow.  I’m so worried I won’t have it down.”  Many a mom might feel the impulse to respond with, “You can absolutely do this honey!  Let’s practice together.  I can help with whatever you need.  Let’s get out the script and dive in.  We’ll stay up all night if we have to!”  In the face of such enthusiastic parental fixing a child’s common response is either to turn up the emotional  knob, “No, there’s no way I can do this!”  or shut down the emotions,  “Nevermind Mom, whatever  it’s fine, I’ll deal with it.”

These parental responses to either the inspired child or the frustrated child are not wrong but consider the possibility that neither meets the child’s needs in that moment.     

When a child is showing up with emotion of any variety consider it an opportunity to say 5 of the most useful yet rare words in the human language, “I’m listening, tell me more.”  

Children have a powerful need to be seen and heard by their caregivers – parents, extended family, teachers, and coaches.  

Finding the time, energy, and mindfulness to button our own lips at least once a day, every day – pausing whatever it is we are doing, turning towards our child with attention and expressing  verbally, somatically, and energetically – “I’m listening, tell me more” creates deep grooves of connection between you and kids.  This attuned attention also increases intelligence,  self-acceptance, and builds muscles of resiliency.  Full spectrum presence is literally the brain, body, spirit superfood that children thrive on.  

When listened to this way the frustrated child’s big emotions flow more freely, loosening their grip, allowing the natural emotional restoration process to restore balance.   Listening to an inspired child holds space for that inspiration to be explored free of judgment or parental agenda allowing your child’s natural curiosity to fly.  

It has the power to work with kids of all ages – age 0 to 99.  Very few of us get the opportunity to bask in full presence listening.  Even a few minutes can make a difference.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!