Understanding‌ ‌the‌ ‌Power‌ ‌of‌ ‌Parenting‌ ‌with‌ ‌Words‌

July 13, 2020

There’s really no arguing that when you get down to the nitty gritty of parenting, words, language, rhetoric — all of the above — are just as important as actions. 

The words you use to interact with your child will impart just as much influence as the way in which you say them. 

Spelled out clearly by kid-friendly blogger More4Kids, “the words you use with your children can either build them up or destroy their self-esteem.”


Words are that powerful! 

Positive language infuses young minds with independence and confidence, while negative language has long lasting unhealthy effects on emotional, cognitive, and social development. Kids and young adults whose childhoods are filled with negative language, oftentimes find themselves burdened with:  

  • Feelings of never being “perfect” or “enough”
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Blaming themselves for the negativity
  • Feeling constantly criticized or judged

Down the road, these children grow into adults who may experience a high sensitivity to negative comments, feel overly rebellious, carry unnecessary guilt, demand too much of themselves and others, and some may even go down darker paths of substance abuse or worse. 

Therefore, choose your words carefully

Take for instance, parenting with care around words that begin with the letter “N.” 

You’ve probably never specifically thought about this word category before, but it turns out that lots of “N” words are actually very negative … we’ve already got one … negative: 

  • No
  • Not
  • Never
  • Naughty
  • Nasty
  • Nobody 
  • Nonsense

These are all harsh, depreciating words. 

Yes, you will have to use these words parenting, but it’s not about if you have to use them, but how you use them.

Alright, so how can you parent positively without foregoing those important boundaries and borders that are created with negative sounding words such as “no” and “never”?

Use positive language to reframe the words and the situation! 

Instead of negative “N” words, try a few positive “N” words:

  • Nice 
  • Neat
  • Now
  • Next
  • Need

Here are a few reframing suggestions to get the ball rolling in your household!

Your kiddo throws sand. Instead of saying “no, stop that right now,” try something like “we don’t throw sand, use your shovel or scoop next time.” 

Your kiddo is running in the house. Instead of saying “never run,” try something like “we need to walk in the house, if we run, we can get hurt.” 

Your kiddo is bouncing a ball on the walls. Instead of say “no, that’s very naughty,” try something like “it would be nice if you bounced the ball outside of the house right now?”

Of course, parenting with positive language reaches far beyond these small incidences. 

Positive language should also incorporate praising when necessary and as regularly as possible. 

Praising your kiddo for both succeeding and failing shows them that you’ve got their back, no matter what! This instills confidence, independence, and the drive to try again even if they think they’re going to fail.