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5 Things You Should Say To Your Kids… Often

In each of my pregnancies, my husband and I talked to our babies. We wanted our children to get to know us in utero. We didn’t do this all the time, we actually had to be intentional with it. However, the more we talked to our babies, the more natural it became.

Now I have two children. One is almost 7-years-old and the other is 3 1/2. They are never short of words. Princesses, Webkinz, Frozen, Golden Retrievers… you name it and I get to hear about it; all – day – long. Sometimes I don’t give those conversations my complete and undivided attention but lately I have thought about what I say (and what I don’t say enough of).

As I considered these exchanges, I began to think about the things that we, as parents, could say more often to our kids.

Do you want to build a relationship with your kids? Here are 5 things to say to them. Click To Tweet

5 Things You Should Say To Your Kids… Often


What do you think?

These four small words have a huge potential to unleash a wealth of thoughts, wisdom, and speculation. Children have such amazing insights and often we, as adults, don’t even contemplate their perspective on matters. Adults often consider themselves to be the experts and teachers, yet we can learn a lot from the youngest members of our society.

Tell me more.

These three words let your children know that they have your attention and that you want to hear more from them. Everyone wants to be heard, this is especially true of our children.

You showed such (insert positive attribute here).

Notice I didn’t give a label here. I have issues with “labeling” children and I hate that I do it with my own (i.e. You’re so clever). This sort of thing is fluff and is meaningless to children. However, by telling your children; “You showed such creativity when you built that fort” or “You showed such determination in that game”, you are labeling a positive attribute. This is beneficial for three reasons:

  1. You are helping your children to see and appreciate positive characteristics.
  2. You are giving your children credit where credit is due.
  3. You are helping your children build a positive sense of self-worth.

Would you like to play with me?

Think of how many times your children have asked you to play with them. Now think about how many times you’ve asked them to play with you. When you invite someone to spend time with you, that action alone tells them how much you enjoy their company. What a wonderful way to help your children feel cherished!

If you’re not sure how to engage in play with your children, then check out this post HERE.

I love you.

Three simple words. So easy to say, yet not said nearly enough. Often when I say “I love you” to my children, I get one of two responses:

  1. Thank you
  2. Okay

It doesn’t matter what their response is; what matters is that I let them know how much I love them.

I was recently thinking about the conversations I have with my children and I began to think about the things that we, as parents, should say to our kids. Here is a list of 5 things you should say to your children... daily.

Check out these 5 things we should be saying to our kids more often. #parenting Click To Tweet

Just like when I was pregnant, these conversations and exchanges had to be intentional at first but with time they have become a lot more natural.

Which of these 5 things do you regularly say to your children? Is there anything you would add to this list of things we should say more often to our kids?


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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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50 thoughts on “5 Things You Should Say To Your Kids… Often

  • Janine Huldie

    First thing I thought was, “I love you”, which I must say more times then I can count from morning to bedtime, too. Wonderful advice and so very important that our kids know we do love them and have faith in them, too ;)

  • Jen@JENerallyInformed

    Great list Jennifer!

    I am terrible on the playing. I was better when there was only 1 or two of them, but it just seems like with 4 someone always needs something from me and playtime is so very hard to scrunch in. That is why I love one on one time where I can just focus on each child individually!

  • Echo

    This is perfection! These are definitely 5 things that ALL parents, including myself, should say to our kids more! I already say I Love You multiple times a day, but I need to work on the other 4. Thanks Jennifer!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed my list Echo.

      Parenting is a tough gig. I don’t know about you but sometimes I get so caught up with the “Big” picture that I forget about the little things (like asking their opinion or playing with them).

      I say “I love you” a ridiculous amount of times but I think it’s so important for them to hear it (and feel it with a hug or a kiss)!

  • Misty

    I love this Jennifer! I remember reading a book as a kid (I think it was Babysitter’s Club) and someone in the book recommending that the babysitters ask kids what they think. As a tween it stuck out to me, and I have carried that on into my parenting. I don’t remember my parents asking me that as a child. My parents were great, most of the time :) . But, we pretty much didn’t share our thoughts about things.

    The would you like to play with me gets me everytime. Playing toys is my least favorite part of parenting. Board games, books, educational activities, great! But, barbies, cars, etc, blah! I know I need to do it more though. Thanks for the reminder!! Great post :)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      That is so cool that you read that tip in a Babysitter’s Club book! It’s so important to check in with the children and see what they are thinking.

      Playing can be tough Misty. I’m really glad you mentioned that comment because I went back into this post and linked to a post I wrote over 4 years ago (I think it was my 2nd or 3rd post) with tips on how to play with children. So thank you!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Misty.

  • Dee Williamson

    I try my best to be careful what I say, and now that my girls are getting older I realize that they pick up on a lot. SO I try to say encouraging things to them as well, and teach them how to treat each other and others nicely. I never thought about the labeling. That is interesting. I should make an effort to label the activity. And playing…Oh I try really hard to balance everything. With 3 little ones running around, it’s difficult meeting each of their needs. A for effort?

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Isn’t it crazy on how much they pick up on?! My husband has a slightly sarcastic sense of humour and he’s had to scale it back because the kids are really picking up on things he says but confused by the intentions.

      Playing definitely becomes more challenging with more children in the mix, that’s for sure! One-on-one time is a rarity. However, maybe you can play “restaurant” or have a “tea party”.

      “A” for effort for sure! We can’t do these things all the time, but we can try to do them on occasion.

  • Jessica Dimas

    Out of these 5, I say the last one all the time and the first one sometimes. I really liked the labeling a positive attribute rather than labeling the child. That is so much more meaningful. I love this list you put together and am going to consciously try to implement the other three phrases. I know when I’ve asked my sons if they want to play, they are sort of taken aback, which is sad lol. I need and want to ask more often!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Jessica.

      It’s so funny but while I was writing this I was thinking of you. Let me clarify… I was thinking, “Jessica’s going to be so happy I wrote a parenting post… it’s been a while.” So, yes, I was thinking of you. Hearing that you liked this list thrills me that much more!

      Playing is the one I really have to be intentional with. It’s hard to “play” when there are so many other things to do. I found this shift particularly hard when I started homeschooling. I need to shut off the “teacher” and turn on the “playful pal”.

  • Katie | The Surly Housewife

    We are a total mushy family and say “I love you,” all the time lol.

    I love number 3! My sister and I talk about this all the time. She was told “You are so smart” so much when she was younger that it put so much pressure on her and she would cheat in order to keep up the smart persona. We need to carefully phrase how we praise our kids. It takes a bit of work at first but after awhile it becomes second nature.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Number three is a big one for me. I call my kids cute all the time. It drives me crazy that I do it too because they are so darn cute! However, I really want them to understand attributes rather than labels. Your example of a positive label just shows how children take these things and don’t really know what to do with them. Expectations, pressure… it’s rough. When my daughter aces something, I’m very mindful with checking in and seeing how she feels about how she did. It’s interesting to get their perspective of what success is.

      We’re a totally mushy family too. Love. Love. Love. Well, the mushy comes from me… but all the same, love. Love. Love!

  • Amanda @ Growing Up Madison

    All great advice Jen and I do happen to say most of them. I tell my toddler especially that I love her ALL the time and it’s fun to hear her say it back. One thing that she’s learned from me when she does something all by herself is “I did it mommy! High Five!”. I always say “High Five, you did it, great job!”. I always encourage her to do things and it’s been paying off.

  • Tamara

    I say “I love you” quite a bit, but I think it’s fascinating how happy they get when I offer to play something. It’s like their eyes light up like Christmas.
    The other day I suggested a puzzle and Scarlet leaped with excitement.
    So very important.
    And “tell me more” is a big one around here.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I love you is so important and “tell me more” makes a huge impact on our children.

      Conversations with our kids needs to start at a young age… that way by the time they’re teenagers, they have a trust for the process of conversing with their parents.

      Thanks for sharing what your family does Tamara!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Marie! Sweet, lovely Marie! It’s so wonderful to see you here. I have to pop over to your blog, you must be back from your blog break!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I had to giggle at your “tell me more” statement… yes the “tell me more” statement can be hard to get in there if you’re getting stories and questions all the time.

  • Jaime Buckley

    Loved it Jennifer.

    Can I add one more–one I love to use with the kids–especially when they’re in a creative mood?

    I’ll say, “Show me!”

    It’s like a magical approval and “Daddy/Mommy is interested” statement. Especially when they’re drawing or working with clay.

    One of my favorites is when they’re making books–or my son, Simon, is making his comic books.

    “Hey dad, wanna see what i’m making?” he’ll ask, most of the time timidly–because he’s peeking through the door while I’m working.

    Taking just those few moments and saying, “Show me,” is a powerful statement…and the kids remember it. Just make sure to say it with a smile.

    BTW–just a heads up: I talk about you in my Tuesday post…and mentioned you a couple times in my podcast as well =)

    – Jaime

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Ooooh, nice one Jaime! I love it! I’m going to have to pull that one out of the hat tomorrow. I’m certain it will raise eyebrows of doubt and suspicion at first but the power in those words… AWESOME!

      I’ll make sure to pop by when I have a chance. Thanks for the mention… I feel a bit like a celebrity in your neck of the woods!

      By the way, Evan is guest-posting this Friday here on The Deliberate Mom. You’ll show him some love right Jaime?! I was actually crying while proofreading his post (not because it’s sentimental or mushy… but because it’s so darn funny).

      Thanks again for sharing your additional point. Love it!

  • Rebecca

    This post makes me happy. These are things I have to remind myself not to say to Dylan, because I think I may ask for his opinion too much at this point, but what I need to remind myself to say to everyone I have dealings with. These are things you can say to make anyone feel important! Though “do you want to play” could go either way lol

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      How awesome that you already say a lot of these things to Dylan. He’s one blessed little boy – that’s for sure.

      You’re right that many of these strategies could apply to people of all ages. If you asked me to play I would totally know you mean riding tricycles and playing Skee Ball at Chuck E Cheese! *wink*

  • Tiffany-A Touch of Grace

    Oh I love this Jennifer. I don’t ask my daughter to play with me enough. I need to make it a point to do that more. I love the idea of asking “what do you think?” They really do have such wonderful little minds that you never know what they will be thinking at that moment.
    Really love this post. It fills my heart up.

  • Chelsea @ The Contented Wife

    Their responses to “I Love You” cracked me up! :) I agree with you – those are all wonderful things to say to your girls. I talk to my son all the time and ask him questions, even though he can’t talk yet. lol! I feel kind of silly sometimes carrying on a conversation with myself, but I think it will help him develop his own language skills when he gets older.

  • Lauren

    Love these! Such great things to keep a conversation going and to help us get to know our kids better. There are so many closed-ended questions and statements we make to our kids, but these get them talking. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      These really are relationship-building conversations… and they’re so important to utilize starting at a young age. If we want our teenagers to talk to us, we have to be building that trusting relationship MUCH earlier on.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Lauren.

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    This reminds me of the things I learned as an Early Childhood Educator about asking open ended questions. Too often we talk at our children or ask questions that don’t invite their thoughts or a conversation (much like what you were saying about commenting on blogs!). Children love it when we open up the conversation and give them a chance to share something that is important to them. Love the tip on asking them if they want to play with us. My children’s faces light up (and they are teenagers!) when I ask them if they want to play something together. Love this post, Jennifer! I think that we all know these things, but we often need the reminders.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I forget that we have the former ECE experience in common. How neat! No wonder we connect and understand each other so well. Oh if only we could meet for coffee and cookies… just imagine how much we would chat (and all the topics we could talk about)!

      I love that your teenagers enjoy spending that time with you too. What kind of things do they like to do with their mom?

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post Heather.

      • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

        Isn’t it strange to meet someone online and then wish that you lived close because you know you’d be great friends? I know we would!

        We love playing board games, going on adventure hikes, and making fun treats in the kitchen. We also still love family read-alouds by the fire. Not that all of those are really play, but we are spending time together.

        I did love the post! Keep up the great work. Speaking of keeping up the great work, how is you book editing going?

          • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

            I so wish we could meet in person because I feel as though we are already friends. Such a strange, but very cool thing!

            I’m so glad to hear that you are waiting until January to edit your book. The break will help you to see it with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of energy. Merry Christmas, my friend.