I often try to be cautious about what NOT to say to my son. For example, "You're so *insert negative word*", "That's not good enough", "Don't be sad" or "Sorry isn't enough". But I often don't think about the things I could be saying to my child to build him up and strengthen his sefl esteem. i came across a brilliant piece on Huffington Post about the things that every child needs to hear. Some of them I do, some I do partly, while others I'm going to start saying.
Here's their list:
1. "I love you"
"You can give a child too many things, but you can never give a child too much love. When you tell your children you love them and tell them often, it lets them know they are valuable. It gives them a fan in their audience. Loving them gives them courage, time to grow; it allows them to make mistakes; it provides healing, and produces feelings of joy.
Telling your children they are loved teaches them to love themselves and how to love others."
2. "I'm proud of you"
"In order to develop a healthy sense of self, children need affirmation and validation. Children crave having your support and blessings, and direct most of their behaviors towards the gaining of your approval, love and acceptance. Be proud of them.
Although many parents tell their children they are proud, the difference is made in quantity, creativity, and sincerity."
3. "I'm wrong and I am sorry"
"When you can admit wrong to your children, you show them you are human and that you have compassion for how they feel on the other side of you. When you're real with them, you show that perfection isn't possible — not for them nor for yourself. Accepting your own imperfections requires honesty, and when you do this with your children, you help them to accept and have the courage to own their own imperfections, which increases their self-worth. They learn through you that it is OK not to be perfect."
4. "I forgive you"
"No one, no matter what age, appreciates being reminded of how they made a poor choice or mistake. Nor does anyone want to be punished endlessly for it, humiliated in front of others for it, or to have it rubbed in their face. As a parent you have to find the balance between having them face up to the consequences of their actions and remembering they have feelings. It is your task, as their parent, to teach them they are lovable despite their imperfections. Forgive them, don't condemn them."
5. "I am listening"
"It is incredibly important to listen to your children so they know that you are interested in what they have to say. Through listening, you learn about who your children are on the inside. It connects you to their inner world and creates an interaction which is mutually satisfying where both parent and child feel a sense of value. To avoid needless misunderstandings, it is helpful to reflect back to them what they have communicated as confirmation of the fact that you have heard them correctly. Once understanding is established, you can encourage, guide and praise them."
6. "This is your responsibility"
"Personal accountability is part of growing up. When your child makes a decision — whether wise or not — dealing with the fallout of the decision goes along with it. When parents make their children accountable for their decisions and actions, the result is effective lesson learning. Your children will quickly learn which actions are positive and which have a negative result. These experiences help teach responsible behavior and guide them long into the future."
7. "You have what it takes to succeed"
"The concept of success being a direct result of effort and persistence starts early. Healthy self-esteem is your child's protective armor against the challenges of the world. Parent your children to know their strengths and weaknesses and to feel good about themselves. In parenting this way, your children will have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They will smile more readily and show a more natural joy for life. Your kids will be realistic and generally optimistic when they deeply believe they have what it takes to succeed."