Dina Berdy, LMSW with the Birmingham Maple Clinic writes about the need for children to feel valued in their relationships.
We forget that our children need to hear the same things we need as adults in our relationships! We want to feel special, honored, not taken for granted. We don’t want to wait until we are “good” to get these messages. There is no reason to hold back on some of these sentiments as you build trust and bonding (yes, as with any relationship, you are building trust with your kids.)
Here are some loving things you can say to your child that may not have occurred to you. You don’t need a reason, a good grade, or even compliant behavior to say them.
1. Rewarding the relationship:
“I hope you enjoy your child when you have one as much as I enjoy you”
“Thank you for spending time (walking, cooking, playing, reading…) with me.
“I really like you. You’re fun to be around.”
“When I was your age I loved when my mom /dad did x with me. It made me feel special. I hope you feel that way too sometimes.”
“I really enjoy your (humor, talent, cuddling…). It makes me (laugh, feel loved, feel excited for you…).”
“I’m so lucky to be your (mom/dad).”
“You are a joy to have around.”
2. Honoring the person over the behavior:
“When I’m mad or frustrated I’m always loving you still.”
“You are a jewel to me. You are treasured. “
3. Honoring the child’s growing skills and his/her willingness to be generous:
“Thank you for your patience (shopping/ waiting…). I appreciated it and enjoyed your company.”
“I know it was hard to (wait/shop…) I appreciated it and enjoyed the time with you.”
4. Relating importance:
“I missed you today! I thought about you today!”
5. Honoring autonomy:
“I like when you have opinions. I see you are your own person!”
“I see how this skill ( insert skill or trait) has really grown in you. (With my child its sense of humor, love of reading, being kind to others.).”
My own Granny would say to me: “I love you but I also really like you.” Does your child know you like them? It doesn’t hurt them to hear it. A lot.