Originally published on Motherly.
By Denaye Barahona
With healthy self-esteem, your child will flourish. In an era where kindergarten is the new first grade, children are being pushed to develop academic skills from an early age. Yet all the intellectual skills in the world are of little value without the confidence to put them to use. This is why, as a parent, we should prioritize building healthy self-esteem and confidence first and foremost.
To do so, we can choose words that inspire confidence. Here are 25 phases that you can use to increase confidence and self-esteem in your children:
1. “You are capable.”
As a parent, our words become the internal language in the minds of our children. We know that our kids are capable of so much — let your words match this belief. Avoid saying things like, “You are going to hurt yourself” or “Don’t fall.” Our tone and language should communicate confidence.
2. “That was brave.”
Sometimes we need to notice things aloud. That means to let them know when we see them being brave. When we notice our kids being brave, they start to notice too.
3. “You’ve got this.”
You know that they have the skills and means necessary and your vote of confidence will give them that extra boost they need to succeed.
4. “I believe in you.”
As the parent, you have faith in your child’s ability. When you openly communicate that faith in them it will inspire it within themselves.
5. “You can do hard things.”
When the going gets tough the obstacles can seem insurmountable. So this direct phrase will tell them exactly what they need to hear — acknowledgment that this is hard work and that they are capable.
6. “No matter what happens, I love you.”
Our children need to hear words that communicate unconditional love. That means providing reassurance of our love — regardless of the outcome.
7. “Let’s try it together.”
Sometimes we all need a helping hand and be sure they know that you will be that hand when they need it.
8. “How’d you do that?”
Ask questions. When you see them do something hard, say, “How did you manage that? How can you do it again?”
9. “That sounds awesome, can you tell me more?”
Take it one step further than just noticing their effort — ask them to elaborate. Then hear the the pride in their voice when they explain.
10. “How can I help?”
When they get really stuck, don’t be afraid to offer your support. Let them know that the offer to help is on the table.
11. “Give it your best.”
We will never win it all, do it all, or be it all. But we can give it our best. Let’s teach our kids this lesson.
12. “I know it’s hard, but I have seen you do it before.”
It can seem overwhelming, but let’s give them evidence of when they have been successful before. This will instill the confidence that they can do it again.
13. “You are enough.”
It doesn’t matter what the outcome — they need to know they are enough just the way they are.
14. “You make me proud.”
Straight and to the point — you can never tell your child this enough.
15. “Even when we get frustrated, we still love each other.”
Feelings like frustration, anger and hopelessness are all common human emotions. And despite these big feelings we will stand by the side of our children with unconditional love.
16. “I wonder what would happen if…”
Try to evoke curiosity and a new way of thinking by wondering about the possibilities.
17. “Do you know what grit means?”
Kids love learning new words. Teach them about grit, resilience and perseverance to help them reach towards these goals.
18. “Want to hear a story?”
Share stories with your kids. Tell them about times when you overcame obstacles, met your goals and reached for the stars.
19. “Do you want to try something crazy?”
Challenge your children with things they think are beyond reach (even if it sounds a little crazy). They might surprise you and themselves.
“Try to evoke curiosity and a new way of thinking by wondering about the possibilities.”
20. “Sometimes new things can seem scary, but they can be exciting.”
Young children tend to cling toward people and environments that are familiar. But if we emphasize how exciting and joyful that new experiences can be, we can encourage the confidence to venture out of the comfort zone.
21. “I know you tried your hardest and I am proud of that effort.”
When we see them working hard and giving it their all, we can recognize this effort. After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.
22. “It looks like you are curious about this, let’s take a deeper look.”
Encourage curiosity and exploration in children of all ages. As a result, they will be more likely to seek out new information and experiences with confidence.
23. “Sometimes we make mistakes, and that is how we learn.”
The path to growing up is filled with stumbling blocks and learning experiences. When we parent without shame, we help our children to use these mistakes as learning experiences.
24. “How did you challenge yourself today?”
Start the conversation about growing, changing and taking risks. With each challenge and accomplishment, the sense of self-esteem will grow.
25. “Repeat after me, ‘I can do it.’”
Positive affirmations are powerful — they can rewire the brain. When we teach our children to use positive affirmations from an early age they will reap the benefits as they grow.
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