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Affirming words can go a long way

People Helping Each Other

Clean your room. Study. Go to bed. Cut the drama. Hurry up. Why’d you get a C on that test?

Clean your room. Study. Go to bed. Cut the drama. Hurry up. Why’d you get a C on that test? (I tend to repeat the same phrases when I talk to my kids).

However, I’ve discovered that I often don’t repeat the phrases that should be repeated.

Recently, someone told me that my older daughter doesn’t seem confident.  I tried to figure out why.  Then I thought about my words and the role they play in her level of confidence. I remembered telling her I was proud of her for effectively using a planner for school work. Her eyes lit up, almost in surprise.

Am I affirming her enough? Am I reminding her how special she is and how smart she is? Am I telling her daily that I believe in her?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. I’m saying plenty, but it’s not always the affirmative language that children need.

Maybe we assume that because they’re teenagers, they don’t need to be affirmed and encouraged. Maybe sometimes we just get too busy and don’t realize they’re lacking in confidence.  Whatever the reason, we all should find a way to affirm our children. Between the reminders to study and clean up, there ought to be time to say, “I’m proud of you” or “I like the way you did ______.”

Most of us know that words are powerful. Even if our children don’t admit it, they listen and internalize the things we say, directly or indirectly. Our words to them and about them really do have an impact.  We can all remember something spoken to us as children, that we still replayin our minds.

How do we talk about our children when we think they’re not listening? How do we talk to them when we’re angry or disappointed? Are we saying more by the words we DON’T utter?

Words can affirm, raise doubts or tear down. Think about the power of the words, “I love you.” We certainly can’t say that enough.

Try affirming your child today and every day.  Then watch them light up and grow in confidence.

– Vanessa W. Snyder is a writer, National Board-certified teacher and mother of two daughters in Washington, D.C. The author of a new novel, “The Second First Lady,” and co-author of titles in the “50 Ways to Christ” series, she can be reached at

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