It is common knowledge that words have a huge impact on our general development, character development, motivation and perception of the world. What we hear in childhood can resonate in our minds throughout our lives; it affects what kind of people we become and forms our attitude to life and other people. Therefore, it is worthwhile to sow positive words and emotions in our children’s minds that will be repeated and developed over time, as well as those that will make them become happy adults full of empathy.
“I love you”
Talking about feelings is not always easy. Many adults have problems with it, depending on what we took out of our own family home. The less experience we have with talking about our feelings, the more embarrassment we face. So it’s not enough to hug, spend time together or talk – you also need to make sure that the child can name specific feelings. Why is this important? Because in this way we allow a child to learn that words expressed in the right way are as equally meaningful as actions. They both complement and strengthen one another. Saying “I love you” is an extremely important sentence that strengthens the sense of security, belonging, being needed and appreciated. Let’s say it as often as possible with genuine heartfelt emotion, and children will learn about and understand love.
Many parents find the idea of apologizing to small children ridiculous. Why? Because it is rooted in a sense of “superiority” and in the belief that the child cannot have any doubts that the parent is always right. Admitting that mum or dad have made a mistake is often tinged with the fear of losing authority. However, apologizing to a child really only has good consequences! It teaches them that pleading guilty or ‘owning up’ to your wrong actions is the right thing to do. It shows that everyone (even an adult and experienced person) can make a mistake and apologizing is a sign of strength, not weakness. When we set such an example for them, we can be sure that the child will duplicate this behaviour at a young age and as an adult.
“I understand you”
Consumed by our own problems, stress and constant shortage, we tend to underestimate children’s concerns and worries. When a toddler is crying, we keep saying “it’s alright”. On the first day of school, we say “everything will be alright”. Do such words show them understanding, empathy and that we can be counted on? Human understanding needs a simple and extremely important signal that says that everyone has the right to their own feelings, interpretations and opinions. It is entering the children’s world and then drawing closer. Importantly, understanding does not necessarily mean showing approval for someone’s behaviour. You can understand why someone behaved in a certain way and at the same time condemn that way of solving the issue – it is worth remembering.
“You can be proud of yourself”
Just like adults can be motivated by the praise of a boss or a friend, a good word can trigger a series of positive behaviours for children too. Positive self-directed praise to the child can be an impulse to act because directing praise to them (“you can be proud of yourself” instead of “I am proud of you”) will help build healthy confidence and teach them how to appreciate themselves. Such a reversal of praise also has another very important role – it teaches the child to build a picture of themselves based on their own feelings, not the opinions of other people.
“And what do you think about that?”
There is a reason why we like people asking us questions. According to scientists, we are more sympathetic to those who show interest in us during a conversation, without interruption. Aside from the fact that asking questions is an impulse for very interesting conversations, it is above all a statement that ‘your opinion is important to me’. Asking questions in communication with a toddler is important, inspirational and developmental, and in addition, it develops curiosity and shows that ‘if you don’t ask, you won’t find out’.