One of the most powerful blessings you can give your child is life-giving words. They express support, high value, and renew your child. Listen in for lots of easy suggestions AND a key way to overcome saying the very things we don’t want to say.
Resources for Episode 10: Life-Giving Words for Your Child
- Proverbs 18.21 (NIV)
- Proverbs 18.21 (The Message)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- Join me on Instagram @teresadglenn
- Grab a copy of my book Becoming A Peaceful Mom ~ Through Every Season of Raising Your Child
Read Episode 10 Transcript
One of the most powerful blessings you can give your child is life-giving words.
God wants us to know just how powerful words can be. He inspires, even warns, us through Proverbs 18.21 (NIV), “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Or, here’s a plain paraphrase of the same verse from The Message, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (end quote)
Well, of course, you and I will choose words that give life! Life-giving words express high value, sustain, support, and renew.
(1) Life-Giving Words of Praise
Praise phrases pour out of our mouth in our child’s earliest years. When he takes a good nap, eats all his food, or even poops in the potty, animated approval comes easy. When he says new words, take steps, or scribbles with a crayon, audible admiration follows. Our words reflect our deep pleasure in our child. Think about it, the messy mouth with food all around it, the unidentifiable scribble, and even the potty experience compels our praise because we cherish and celebrate the child, not what he did.
Our child needs to hear our deep pleasure in him even more as he gets older, to remind him that he is seen, respected, significant, and designed with unique purpose. God wants our child to learn his is precious and of great worth, and he hopes that we are primary vessels to convey this.
Praise your child for his character and other attributes that you see glimpses of in him. Choose quiet moments, that aren’t necessarily tied to a recent experience. Here’s what I mean:
You are so patient, kind, hard-working, thoughtful…
You are beautiful, adorable, creative, fun to be with, a good big brother, dependable …
You matter, are unique, no one is like you, valuable…
Another way to praise is giving positive feedback. Watch for your child doing or trying to do something good or obedient, no matter how small it is, and praise him. Whet his appetite to desire positive attention.
Praise provides incentive for a child to continue in the same stream of whatever results in recognition. This is a win for parent and child. We strengthen in practicing praise and our child grows in the direction of our goal for him.
Some praise may feel silly, but to the child’s ears it is affirmation and approval. Here are some examples:
- Your child finally shares a toy: I love the way you shared that toy!
- Piano practice: You sound like you’re learning that hard piece.
- Table manners: You chewed your food with your mouth closed for almost the whole meal. Way to go!
- Sibling tension: When he teased you, you handled that so well. I’m proud of you.
Your child looks up to you, even if he doesn’t act like it sometimes. Your words of admiration touch hurting or weak places deep within. Here are a few themes and suggestions for things you could say:
- When he’s discouraged: I have so much respect for you. You put so much time and effort into this.
- When he’s disappointed: I sure do admire you. You worked so hard. You gave it your best. You. I am so proud of the way you approached this … kept trying … never gave up … followed through.
- When he’s making effort: Describe in detail every way that you see your child trying or working hard.
Life-giving words of praise say, I see you. I appreciate you. You are of great value and worth.
Don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t seem impacted. Rely on Jesus and, steadfastly, sow the words. He will breathe life into them.
(2) Life-Giving Words of Encouragement
At every age, a child faces the challenge of inexperience and perhaps uncertainty about herself or her ability—whether she’s learning how to tie her shoe, making a presentation in front of her class, struggling through physical therapy, gathering the courage to enter a room of unfamiliar peers, or struggling to obey us. It’s easy for her to get discouraged or down on herself.
She steps in, tries because she wants to or has to, and receives something—welcome or rejection, success or failure, encouragement or discouragement, and, whether she realizes it or not, her heart registers a conclusion, too.
Encouragement is vital and it’s our opportunity every single day. I wish I recognized this when we were raising our kids. Oh, I encouraged, but mostly before something obviously challenging or after something hard or discouraging. Don’t wait or watch for struggle. Build your child up to nurture her toward seeing herself the way that God wants her to see herself.
Encouragement is like fresh air and breathes hope to the soul. It supports, build ups, even cheers our child, and reaches the deep places within to counter feelings of self-doubt and discouragement.
Become a student of your child and a messenger for God. Ask him to help you learn about your child and how he wants you to be his messenger of encouragement.
Here are examples of messages of encouragement:
- To be supportive: You can do it. I believe in you. I’m on your side. I’m behind you 100%. Keep going. I’m praying for you. You’re so focused. Hang in there! You will finish. You will get through this. You will figure it out.
- To give positive feedback: I like the way you did that. Good choice. That’s an interesting approach. I’d like to see/hear/read more. You’re doing great. You put your shoes on the right feet today; way to go! You’re almost there!
- To communicate awareness: You handled that so well. I’m proud of your decision. I’ve noticed you’ve been practicing extra hard. I can see a difference because of your effort. You’re really improving. I’m impressed by… I know this is challenging. I can tell you are trying.
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”
Let’s become our child’s biggest cheerleader! When we encourage, we build their confidence to try, to do their best, to persevere through all that life brings.
Before we close, listen again to Proverbs 18.21, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Sobering and true words from our God who loves us and wants to help us live our best life on this earth. He knows we want to speak life-giving words—instead of the other kind that criticize, discourage, tear down, or judge—and he knows how hard it can be for us.
Why is it so hard?
Jesus helps us understand in the gospel of Luke 6.45. He teaches, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Jesus knows how the stuff of life can influence our heart and quickly fill it. He points out that our words reflect what our heart is full of on any given day.
Jesus want to be (to quote his words) “what the heart is full of” each day. He wants to be who we rely on and choose to be influenced by. When we do, he cleanses, heals, and restores our heart, such that what comes out of our mouth might even surprise us sometimes.
Let’s remember to rely on Jesus. He wants us to draw from him, the source of Life and Life-giving words. When we participate with him, the effort in our words of praise and encouragement will have the effect of His love.
Thank you for every opportunity to speak words of life to our children. Please fill our heart with your love and teach us how and when to be your messenger. Amen.