1. Thank you
Not just when something is good, but also for another bringing correction and truth into your life. Thank you can specifically encourage character qualities in one another’s lives, eg. “Thank you for being thoughtful and seeing that I needed a drink”. Or simply, “I appreciate you (for being you).”
2. How may I help? or How can I best help you now?
We are created for living in community. We can be an arm at the elbow for each other. A small child can reach under the couch. A tall person gets the jar from the top shelf. A younger person holds the door open for an Elder. Mother can help child with a new word or a tricky maths problem. We best achieve what we would like when we help others to achieve what they need or want.
Yes, “please” is still a classic when asking for something. Hopefully, for our children (and the adults too), this word along with the other polite niceties of life will freely flow off the tongue.
4. How about a hug?
- A bear hug,
- a “Good Morning” hug (you know the day goes so much better with one or two of these),
- a family hug (complete with the hand pats on the back – are you a 2-patter or 3-patter?),
- an Olympic hug (everyone in, jumping and noisy as!),
- an arm across the shoulder
– all say “I love you”, “I want you around me”, “I’m glad to be with you”.
5. I love you
We may leave secret notes, hug or kiss, or gaze longingly into our Other’s eyes, but at times nothing substitutes a verbalised truth: “I love you” said with the tone of voice that will melt the Other’s heart (and our own).
6. You can do it
Encouragement and giving hope are high on the list of priorities for parents and grandparents to offer to their children. A smile, a pat on the back, a hearty “yeah!” all show our children that they are finding their place in the world – our part of it anyway. This gives them confidence to try out new things as they mature.
7. Good job!
Right up there with other forms of encouragement. Honest, speecific, and deserved praise and rewards can be spread around generously. This models a generous and warm spirit for our children.
8. Tell me more
More encouragement. Words like these show your child that you are listening and that you would like to hear more about what’s on their mind. “Tell me more” encourages conversation without passing judgement or giving immediate advice.
9. Let’s all pitch in
Co-operation and team effort make many jobs easier and speedier – and often more fun: “Let’s all pitch in and finish raking the leaves so we can go in and bake cookies,” or “Let’s all pitch in and clean up the kitchen or we’ll miss the movie.” Family activities and group chores can develop into pleasant rituals that enrich a child’s life and create fond memories.
10. It’s time to…
“It’s time to get ready for bed”, or “do your work”, or “tidy up your bedroom floor”. Children need structure in their daily lives to provide a measure of security and predictability in an often insecure world. It is up to you as parent to establish and maintain a workable schedule of activities, always remembering that children benefit from regular mealtimes and bedtimes.
Here’s an interesting view on praising children.
There are other phrases that need to be used at times that we’ll look at next Monday – those harder phrases that define boundaries and admit wrong.