5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children

Kids cause plenty of frustrating parenting moments. And when handled negatively, they can damage kids’ self-esteem. Mighty Mommy has 5 ways parents can put a positive spin on negative situations.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #238

Tip #3: Use Loving Names and Positive Labels

Name calling is an awful way to label a person, especially a child. I was recently at a friend’s house when her 10-year-old son rushed into the house after school and his backpack knocked her grandmother’s heirloom vase off the coffee table. It shattered into a dozen little pieces and his face went from thrilled to be done with school, to sheer horror for what he had just accidentally done. I wanted to slither out of their home as quickly as possible, but was I glad I stayed. Instead of losing her self-control and calling him a name like “clumsy” or “idiot,” my friend said, “That’s OK Sweetie, it was an accident and besides, it really wasn’t one of my favorite things in the room anyway.”   You should’ve seen his face light up. It wasn’t that he was relieved that his mom wasn’t upset, it was that she didn’t belittle him (especially in front of me).

Eliminate discouraging comments like "You're so lazy," "You're always a slow poke," or "You are the reason we’re constantly late." Negative labels bring negative results, which is the opposite of what you want. Positive labels bring positive results and children see themselves as winners. Turn the discouraging label into a positive one such as “We promised Grandma we’d be at her house by 5 PM, so please have your things ready in 15 minutes or we’ll have to leave your sports gear behind.”  

See also: The Power of Positive Words

Tip #4: Be Affectionate Often

When a child hears phrases like “I love you,” or “How’s it going?” or notices that you stopped what you’re doing when she enters the room and is greeted with a loving smile, it means the world to a child. And even though they would never admit it, the same goes for teens and college aged kids too. When you display affection to your kids and other family members, you’re validating to them how important they are to you, which sends the best positive message you could ever deliver.  

See also: 7 Ways to Build Your Teen’s Self Esteem

Tip #5: Speak Positively about Your Kids in Their Presence

Often after a negative incident has taken place, we as parents want to discuss it with our spouse when he/she returns from work. If your child is in the vicinity, however, don’t get into such a conversation until you’re certain your child can’t overhear you. Discussing negative behaviors while they are within listening reach can reinforce the bad behavior as well as damage your child’s self esteem. 

Once you’ve discussed a negative incident with your child, let it go and save further discussions about the incident privately. At this point, if you don’t have anything positive to share, then say nothing at all.  

See also: 5 Ways to Change Bratty Behavior Into Positive and 4 Ways to Keep Your Family Strong

What types of positive discussion and interactions do you have with your child? Share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me onTwitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT

There are certainly many parenting moments that can leave you feeling frazzled but when you look for the positive, you’ll realize how many wonderful moments you really do share with your kids. Keep smiling and until next time…happy parenting!

Mother and Daughter image from Shutterstock


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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