I work from home three days per week and barely an hour goes by when I don’t feel a set of little eyes staring at me from across the table. My 4-year-old is always finding the most fascinating things that she just can’t wait to show me. I look up from my laptop to examine the rock, crayon, or doll she’s captivated by before sending her on her way and returning to work. The cycle continues until bedtime and repeats daily. I love it, but, admittedly, it decreases my productivity.
But I’m willing to pause my work for her because I want her to know I care about her. To a child, especially a little one, the words “look at me” really mean “Do I matter to you?” Kids not only crave our attention, they need it. When our eyes and ears are on them, they feel seen and important. Their self-esteem gets boosted. They feel valued by the people they cherish most. When they seek our attention, they become very vulnerable. What we do (and say) in those moments has the power to build up or tear down. I don’t ever want to miss my chance to leave a profound mark on my kids’ lives. Next time they come calling, here are 15 positive things to say to kids.
1. You are fun.
All kids want to know time spent with them isn’t a burden. Rather, it’s a delight! Tell your kids you think they are the best; then make memories together.
2. You are creative.
Your kids have skills and abilities they can use to make something for themselves and others. Asking them simple questions like “What do you want to make today?” is a great way of reminding them that their ideas, desires, and ability to create things matter.
3. You are unique.
God made them totally different from their siblings, friends, and even parents. They don’t have to mimic or imitate anyone. Each child is unique and that is a special gift to cherish. Tell your kids how thankful you are that there is nobody else in the world like them.
4. You are intelligent.
I love when my kids have a breakthrough in school. They finally got that good grade they have been chasing or come up with an answer to a complex issue. Hug them tight and tell them you are so proud of their brainpower.When kids model compassion for others, point out what a great character trait this is.
5. You are compassionate.
In Ephesians 4:32, God tells us to forgive others just like he’s forgiven us. When kids model compassion for others, point out what a great character trait this is.
6. You are ambitious.
Some think of this as a negative word, but I see it as a great asset. Ambitious kids are determined to see their dreams come true. Praise their work ethic and drive to accomplish great things.
7. You are valuable.
This is among the most powerful positive things to say to kids. Each child needs to know God “knit them together in their mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:14 calls children “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This means each child is a person of great worth, no matter what anyone else may say.
8. You are adventurous.
Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on family hiking trips. It was fun to explore! Adventurous people leave the couch behind in search of what life has to offer. If you have a wild child who wants to experience life to the fullest, compliment his or her adventurous spirit.
9. You are joyful.
In my house, we teach our kids that joy is to be prized over happiness because joy comes from God while happiness is based in circumstances. When things are good, kids feel good. When life’s a wreck, they will struggle. Explaining the difference between happiness and joy will help kids avoid becoming a slave to their feelings.
10. You are witty.
This is different than being smart. This covers everything from cracking a great joke to problem solving to writing great stories. Praise your kids when they display wit.
11. You are charming.
Sometimes, that smile can melt your heart. “I admire your cheerfulness” or “I like your grin and giggle” are both positive things to say to kids.
12. You are able.
One thing my kids say a lot when faced with adversity is “I can’t.” If your kids do this, remind them they are able to do hard things.
13. You are determined.
We have a saying in our house: Lewises never quit. Determination is undervalued. When your kids demonstrate it, hug them, and tell them you’re proud of their effort.
14. You are beautiful/handsome.
Physical beauty is not the most important feature of a person, but it does feel nice to get a compliment on your appearance. Be specific with your kids by saying things like “I love your pretty eyes” rather than just “you look nice today.” This will build your son or daughter’s confidence.
15. You are trustworthy.
Trust is at the root of every good relationship. When kids know you trust them, they will be more open with you. Teach them how to make good decisions; then tell them how much you trust them to do the right thing.
Sound off: What other positive things to say to kids can you come up with?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What words make you feel loved?”