Do you nag your children often?
If your answer is “yes”, you’re not alone.
You want your children to be responsible and independent.
You want them to be motivated to do well in school.
Since they’re not there yet, you instinctively nag them to correct their behaviour and attitude.
But, at the same time, you realise that all this nagging isn’t working.
If so, this article is for you.
I’ve had years of experience working with thousands of children and teenagers. So I now understand the factors that help them to become mature, responsible and successful.
One of the most important factors is how their parents speak to them.
The more positive interactions between the parent and child, the less likely it is that the parent will need to nag the child in order to gain compliance.
It’s also more likely that a strong parent-child bond will form.
In fact, there’s a supposed “magic ratio” of 5 to 1 in healthy relationships: 5 positive expressions of feelings and actions for every negative expression.
So, in this article, I’ll share with you 50 positive things you can say to your children, so that – in the long run – you won’t need to nag them anymore!
Before we get to the list, here’s a bonus for you . . .
Here’s the list:
1. “I’m grateful for you.” Children feel special when they know you’re thankful that they’re a part of your life.
2. “What do you think?” Ask this question to show that you value your children’s opinions.
3. “I enjoy spending time with you.” Children and teenagers behave better when they know that you love them and like them. They’ll be less likely to rebel too.
4. “All of us make mistakes.” Say this instead of harshly criticising your children for accidental mistakes.
5. “You’re special to me.” This phrase will help to fill your children’s “love tank”.
6. “I appreciate it when you . . .” For example, you might say, “I appreciate it when you set the table for dinner.”
7. “I trust you.” Children and teenagers who feel as if their parents trust them are more likely to become trustworthy.
8. “You’re getting better at . . .” When you notice your children’s progress, they’ll feel encouraged and motivated.
9. “Have a good day!” This is a simple way to start the day on a positive note when you say goodbye to your children in the morning.
10. “Let me think about it.” This is a better alternative than instinctively saying no to your children’s requests (assuming the requests aren’t too unreasonable).
11. “What happened here?” Ask this question instead of assigning blame or jumping to conclusions, e.g. when you notice that a piece of furniture in your home has been damaged.
12. “It looks like you’re having a difficult time. Can you tell me about it?” This is an effective way to get your children to open up.
13. “I’m sorry.” When you’ve made a mistake, be humble and apologise.
14. “Your practice is paying off.” Children and teenagers appreciate it when their parents observe that their efforts have yielded results.
15. “How did you do that?” This question helps your children to focus on the process instead of the outcome.
16. “What’s one interesting thing that happened in school today?” By asking your children this question, they’ll be more likely to open up as compared to you asking, “How was your day?”
17. “What did you try hard at today?” This emphasises to your children that trying hard and improving are more important than achieving a specific end result.
18. “I’m sure you can do it.” Say this to your children to give them a boost of confidence.
19. “You decide.” Children learn to make wise decisions by making more decisions, not by following the instructions of authority figures.
20. “How do you feel about that?” This question will help your children to become more emotionally self-aware.
21. “I’m ready to listen.” By telling your children that you’re ready to listen without judging, they’ll be more willing to share what’s on their heart.
22. “I love you.” Children and teenagers need to know that they’re loved unconditionally.
23. “You make me smile.” By saying this, you’ll make your children’s day.
24. “Your opinion is important.” Your children will feel significant when you say this to them. And when they feel significant, they’ll behave more responsibly.
25. “You were right.” Admit it when you’re wrong. Your children will respect you for it.
26. “I can see that you’re becoming more . . .” Fill in the blank with “focused”, “organised”, “kind”, “responsible”, “helpful”, etc. as you observe even small positive changes in your children.
27. “I’m excited about doing this with you!” This emphasises to your children that you actually enjoy doing things together with them.
28. “That’s a good question.” By acknowledging your children’s curiosity, you’ll foster a spirit of lifelong learning in them.
29. “I accept you the way you are.” Parents want to raise children who are secure and self-confident. Saying this to your children is a good way to encourage them down the right path.
30. “You’re an important member of this family.” Remind your children frequently of their value and significance as a member of the family.
31. “I believe in you.” Your children want to know that you believe in them, that you have faith in their character and abilities.
32. “I saw that you tried hard at . . .” This phrase reinforces the principle that challenges are things to be embraced, not things to be avoided.
33. “Let’s do it your way.” Show your children that your way isn’t always the only (or best) way.
34. “Can you explain to me why you did it this way?” Empower your children to reflect on their choices and on what they’re learning.
35. “You’re learning how to . . .” Remind your children that the journey of learning is what matters most.
36. “That was thoughtful of you.” Acknowledging your children’s positive behaviour and attitude means a lot to them.
37. “Can you teach me how to . . .?” Your children will grow in confidence when they realise that you have things to learn from them too.
38. “Good point.” As your children grow in intellectual maturity and wisdom, show them that you observe this growth.
39. “I knew you could do it.” These words of encouragement will help your children to believe in themselves.
40. “How did you think of that?” Children and teenagers who go through such reflection will develop problem-solving skills faster.
41. “Would you like to talk about it?” This question is inviting without being overbearing or demanding.
42. “What challenge would you like to take on?” It’s through challenges that we learn and grow, so this is one way to encourage your children to view challenges positively.
43. “I care about you.” If you feel awkward about telling your children that you love them, start with this phrase instead.
44. “What do you think you can do about this?” Instead of solving the problem for your children, ask this question to enable them to solve the problem themselves.
45. “Will you forgive me?” Beyond apologising, asking for your children’s forgiveness is a powerful way to restore the parent-child relationship.
46. “Tell me more.” This is a simple phrase that encourages your children to share their thoughts and feelings.
47. “It’s OK to feel . . .” Rather than tell your children that they shouldn’t feel angry, sad, frustrated, etc. empathise with them and help them to work through their negative emotions.
48. “Shall we start over again?” If an argument has broken out between you and your children, ask this question to start the discussion afresh.
49. “I’m proud to be your parent.” When your children know this, they’ll want to do you proud too.
50. “What can I do to be a better parent?” Be prepared to hear an honest answer from your children. But by putting their feedback into practice, you’ll definitely become a better parent.
Despite what you may think, raising responsible, confident and successful children doesn’t require lots of luck.
It requires lots of the right inputs from you and others (that’s why I work with students 1-to-1 through this coaching programme).
So make this article your guide as you seek to build a better relationship with your children and bring them up well.
Add a couple of items from the list to your repertoire each week, and over time you’ll see big changes.
It’s time to get started! 🙂
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