Parents often report that they say, “I love you” to their children. These are beautiful words for your children to hear. Did you grow up hearing “I love you”?
My parents didn’t say “I love you” until my dad was in his late 70s and my mom was in her early 90s. Their childhood culture of Scottish, German, and English didn’t focus on these words of love. To change this family history, my daughter and I make sure we say, “I love you” every time we talk.
Words we say have a powerful impact on our children. Words are the building blocks of self-worth, self-image, self-talk, and sabotaging mindsets. Negative words have a very profound impact on children. Experts say that it takes 5 to 7 positive words to offset a negative word.
I encourage you to reflect on what negative thoughts you have about your children that lead to negative words. When you use language that feels judgmental to children, they don’t often say, “You’re wrong. Don’t say those hurtful words.” Instead, they believe what you say is the truth.
Here are some negative words to look out for and work on stopping. These words infer that the child is not good enough. Children feel judged and emotionally injured as a result.
- “You should…….”.-
- “Why did or didn’t you….?”
- “How many times….”
- “I’m disappointed in you.”
- “You should know better.”
- “Why do you have to be so…..?”
Write down now what you are going to stop saying. Make a commitment to yourself. If you are courageous enough, tell your child/teen what you are going to stop saying, too.
When you slip up, and you will at first, apologize and say you will keep trying to stop. Take full responsibility for your actions. Don’t blame them and say, “If you did…… then I wouldn’t say…..”
Learn to say “I love you” at least once every day regardless of your upbringing and frustrations during the day. Find that love inside so it doesn’t get buried.
When you say more hurtful words than words of encouragement and “I love you. You are amazing” then your children can start to doubt your love. They may even say, You don’t love me.” or “I’m no good.”
You may think that doing things for your children or spending money on them is your way of showing love. Children often don’t perceive it this way. Children need to hear “I love you” no matter what they do.
My Amazing Story of Creating Deep Connection
An experience sticks in my mind when my daughter was a teen and did something I didn’t like. (I’ve forgotten the details.) She was on her bed crying and I came in. I laid down beside her and put my arms around her. She said, “Why aren’t you mean to me as other parents would be?”
I had already told her I wasn’t happy with her behavior so now I believed it was time for her to feel my love. I told her, “I love you no matter what you do.” At that moment my daughter felt unconditional love and our bond was deepened.
From my upbringing, you know that saying “I love you” does not come naturally because I never heard it growing up. I have to make a conscious decision to express what’s in my heart. I encourage you to do the same so your children hear your love and it doesn’t get buried under hurtful words.
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