“How you talk to your children is how they learn to talk to themselves.”
I stumbled across this statement years ago — long before Baby B was conceived — and it stopped me in my tracks.
Holy Shakti, I thought. It’s soooooo true.
As someone who has dealt with a fierce inner Mean Girl my whole life, the truth behind these words hit me hard. I knew that a harsh inner critic was NOT something I wanted to pass on to my future children. I knew, even back then, that I wanted to speak to my future kids in a way that set them up for a lifetime of self-love and expansion… not a lifetime of beating themselves up and feeling ‘less than’.
So since giving birth to my daughter in 2021, I have been exquisitely aware of my words and thoughts. Nick is too — it’s something that we both feel incredibly passionate about.
But we don’t just do it because it feels right to us both intuitively…
There’s also MOUNTAINS of robust science that links the way we talk to our kids with their outcomes later in life — everything from their ability to bounce back from disappointment, to their willingness to try new things, to their brain development, to the kind of mental self-talk they engage in. (If you want to do a deep dive on this, check out my podcast with the amazing Dr Daniel Siegel, or check out the books ‘Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfill Your Potential’ by Carol Dweck or ‘Grit’ by Angela Duckworth.)
It’s super interesting, super-powerful stuff…
But sometimes, when you’re in the moment with your kid, you might find yourself at a loss for what to say, or resorting to the same few lines every time, or even accidentally letting your own outdated programming slip out of your mouth without meaning to. (No judgment, mama — we’ve all been there, and it’s a lifelong journey for all of us.)
So whilst I was breastfeeding the other day, I decided to come up with a list of 40 things we can say to our children to show them they are seen, heard, held, witnessed, and oh so loved.
Below, you’ll find a list you can return to again and again. (I highly recommend bookmarking this page.) It’s stacked with questions, comments, and words of love and praise designed to fill your child’s love tank and set them up for a growth mindset.
Start saying them to your child today. (It’s never too early or too late to get started.)
And for bonus points, start saying them to YOURSELF too. (Because yep, it’s entirely possible to fill YOUR OWN tank and improve YOUR OWN mindset with the words you say to yourself. #winning)
Here we go —
- You are so loved.
- You are so kind.
- You are such a beautiful person, inside and out.
- You are so important to me.
- I’m so glad you’re here.
- Thank you for choosing me as your mama.
- Thank you for being here.
- You are safe.
- You are seen.
- I got you, and will always be here for you.
- It’s ok to fall down.
- You tried so hard just then, I’m proud of you.
- I love watching you learn.
- How did you come up with that amazing idea?
- WOW! The way you solved that was really creative.
- I’m so proud of you. YOU should feel proud of you too.
- You can do anything you put your heart into.
- I love who you are.
- You ask great questions.
- I love hanging out with you.
- We can do tricky things.
- I’m here to support you.
- How can I support you?
- I’m so grateful for you.
- You are so worthy.
- You are here on earth, which means you matter.
- Your opinion and your voice matters.
- Use your voice, we want to hear from you.
- That’s really interesting, tell me more.
- I’d love to know what you think about XYZ.
- I can tell you worked really hard on this.
- I love how much you love to learn and grow.
- I love playing with you.
- Make sure you love yourself as much as you love others.
- You are the best in the whole wide world at being YOU!
- You are perfect just the way you are.
- I can see you are feeling sad/angry/frustrated etc. right now. Where do you feel that in your body? And would you like to talk about it?
- How is your heart today?
- You are enough.
- No matter what, I will always love you.
Imagine if we were all told these things daily from birth. How amazing would that be?! It doesn’t matter how old you are now, or what you’ve been told by others or by yourself in the past, you can choose TODAY to start speaking to yourself like this.
And as for our children… imagine if we told them these things daily. Imagine the self-confidence, self-love and self-respect that would instil…
The best part is we CAN do it! We can start telling them one (or more) of these things today.
To make this a habit, I recommend printing this gorgeous image out, sticking it up where you can see it, and making a conscious effort to add a new phrase to your arsenal each week.
Then sit back and watch your child thrive and flourish. If you start saying these things to them, they will start saying them to themselves, their siblings, their friends, everyone. You will have created a positive ripple effect in their life and in the world at large. So start today, sweet friend.
Finally, I’d love to know — what number is your favourite and what number are you going to start saying to your children today?