What do you say that will stay with your kids the rest of their lives?
This beautiful question that has driven me to think about the words I use and the power that they hold. As an educator, language researcher, and parent, I am aware that the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. They internalize our messages, so we must choose our words carefully.
What I have discovered over the past 30 years is that these two words hold the power to change your child’s mood, their minds, and their hearts: You Matter. And if we understand them and leverage them in the right way, these two words serve as an invitation to children to find their purpose, follow their passion and seek to make a difference in this world.
Here is why these two words are so powerful:
- “You Matter” is Affirming: These words are not simply a statement of inspiration, they are a statement of value. There is a difference between being admired for what you know and being valued for who you are. The caliber of our children’s productivity, inner strength, contentment, relationships, and competencies is directly impacted by the strength of their self-beliefs. One of the most important goals we can make as parents is letting our children know they matter not just to us, but to the world. When young people get the message that their worth is not dependent on their grades, their perfect behavior, or even a significant feat…they become more secure in who they are and how valuable they can be.
- “You Matter” is Vision Casting: Children are on a journey. They are figuring out who they are and what their place is in this world. For some, that vision aligns with that of the world, but for others who follow a path that has been chosen for them and is inconsistent with who they are, emotional angst and suffering ensues. Our children need us to encourage their vision of success. These words show them they belong with us for who they authentically are. These two words are an investment in this process, casting a clear vision for their future and potential.
- “You Matter” is a Call to Action: When we tell a young person that they matter, we are inviting them into a life of service and action where they will be called upon to use their gifts and talents for something bigger than their own self-interest. I can personally attest that our children are not only ready for any challenge that comes before them, they are ready to do the work and make an impact.
If we want to usher in the future generation of creative, compassionate, and courageous human beings…
If want to unleash a new generation of fierce and determined young people who ask as they enter the world and workforce, “How are we going to make it better?”….
If we want to see a world better than the one that exists today…
Then each and every one of our children need to hear these words from the people they admire and love most.
Once they know this, everything in their world and ours changes.
By Caitlin Hardeman, former third through sixth grade teacher specializing in English Language Arts.