Six Important Words For Every Child To Hear

Turns out that once your child ventures down the path of self-doubt, there is no going back. Once they start to see themselves through the eyes of others, sometimes those who are also feeling insecure, their confidence begins to chip away. No longer do they see themselves as awesome, but instead they feel awkward. It is our job as parents to remind them that even when they feel unsure, *we* believe in them.

Shortly after the school year began last fall, I found Emma, my normally carefree, self-confident, whimsical child, experiencing her first bouts of true self-doubt. I saw it as the peeling away of childhood innocence and the beginnings of real-life, permanent inward female judgment. It seemed far too young and far too soon to see her feeling this critical, this unsure of her place in the world, and yet, she had been dealt some pretty tough blows in the months prior so I couldn’t help but think there could a connection.

Her first experience with death. Watching her grandfather fall in love with another woman and seeing her place in his life change so dramatically. Having her other grandfather become deathly ill right before the start of school. These were some very grown-up things to have to sort through, and brought with them feelings that she had never had to experience before.

So, I got it, but it didn’t make me any less sad to see it happening to her.

And then I began talking to girlfriends about their children (turns out it wasn’t just the girls who were changing), and we all seemed to be seeing a common thread. The pure innocence was fading and in its place was reality, and sometimes that reality was harsh.

I wanted Emma to know that I was on her side. I wanted her to know that I was in her corner. I wanted her to know that even when she didn’t know it, I knew that she was amazing. I found a book called “I Believe In You”, and I bought it for her. I wrote on the inside and left it on her pillow. We read it together that night before bed and have read it many nights since, and I hoped that the message in the pages was sinking in.

In her lunchbox each day I included a note. I always ended it with the same sentence…

Remember that I believe in you.

I had no idea whether it made a difference, whether the words that I wrote mattered to her, whether she truly took them in and found herself imprinting them on her heart.

Until I showed up at her 2nd grade Author’s Reception on Thursday, and she proudly opened the book she had spent all of the year working on to the dedication page and showed it to me. 

And then I knew for sure. Those six little words mattered. The routine of the notes in the lunchbox, the reading of the book at bedtime, the reminding of her of her importance, it all meant something. She heard me.


Comments

Six Important Words For Every Child To Hear — 110 Comments

  1. Those are beautiful words – and even more beautiful because they are true.

    I love that you take the time to remind your daughter every single day.

  2. This post is awesome. Just awesome. I bet your daughter’s dedication filled your heart with such love & pride! I would have been bawling my eyes out! It’s sad to know at some point our children must grow up and shed their innocence, but I take heart in the fact that we can guide them through the transition by constantly reinforcing our belief in them.

    P.S. It’s nice to see that some schools still teach cursive! And your daughter’s handwriting is WAY better than every single 2nd grader I know!

  3. I love this story.. I don’t love how our children slowly start to let go of that beauty within and latch on to the ugly of the world…

    But I love how you embrace your precious Emma with fierce love and support-

    And I Iove that she sees that, feels that, realizes that in her every day…

    And oh how I believe THAT-my dear friend, will be all she really needs.

    • It is really hard to see them lose their childhood innocence, isn’t it? Thank you so much for this very sweet comment my friend. :)

  4. Oh, the dedication page brought tears to my eyes! I imagine as a parent you do everything in your power to love and protect your children, and how hard it must be to see that shell of innocence they have when they are young start to fade away. Emma clearly knows you are there for her, regardless of what changes she might be going through and moments of self-doubt she might be experiencing.

    • It is really hard to watch it happen Bev, especially because it is inevitable and seems to start younger and younger. At the end of the day, you just do what you can to let them know you are on their side. :)

  5. Yes! Yes! I love this! I put notes in Fiona’s lunch box and started doing it for similar reasons. Things making her world feel out of control and dealing with the mean girls in school (it starts so young!) I wanted her to know that she always had home and that her family would always be her rock. I love that you do this.

    • Isn’t it just heartbreaking how young the mean girl stuff starts??!! I honestly do not remember it before 5th grade and then definitely middle school, but we certainly started seeing it this year.

  6. That is such a great book, I ran out (well logged on to Amazon) and bought it immediately when you recommended it before..

    K will be entering 2nd grade in the fall and I am starting to be more aware of innocence being lost and harsh rules of acceptance coming to light. As insane (if you know me and my lack of patience) I briefly considered home schooling (or a half and half program) to protect her a little bit longer. Realizing that was not the answer for our family, it is nice to be reminded of these other tools we can use to arm our kids for the real world!

    • As you know, homeschooling would also be a no-go for me, too. I do think that this book has proved to be very helpful in navigating our way through the beginnings of this. May I also recommend the American Girl books, which have also been helpful…they are great for as they start to get even older. :)

  7. I love this! You are so right! Our kids are definitely going to experience self doubt, and family should be their “safe place!” We should be helping them build their confidence! It is so cool that your daughter is hearing you – this is such an awesome post!

  8. After I read about that book in your blog a while back, I went out and bought that book and have read it to my kids several times since. I want you to know that YOU made a difference in my kids’ lives. YOU helped me to give them a tool for their waning self-confidence. So I thank YOU, my dear friend! You are one of the best Mamas I know!

  9. You’re making me cry. For real. This is so beautiful and so helpful to those of us with babies and toddlers – who seriously don’t know self-doubt yet. “You’re pretty, Scarlet. You’re smart, Scarlet.” “I know!”

    I will treasure this post.

    • Yes, I remember those days well (and Abby is still in that phase, thank goodness), so it is definitely shocking when that goes away!

  10. This made me cry…I have a 9 year old son and I can see changes in him also and I think as parents if WE have to make sure we constantly reassure our children that we are in their corner, no matter what! It’s hard to watch (helplessly) as their innocence slips away… :(. Great post!

    • Thanks Tracie…isn’t it hard to see it all changing right before your eyes and not be able to do a thing to stop it?!

  11. It’s true. Kids may not show it on the outside, but they hear. They listen. They remember. I’m so glad your message got through. Loved this post. Followed you from SITS. Have a blessed day!

  12. Great posting. I’m glad you got to see results of your good parenting. Emma is the coolest kid ever, she shouldn’t have any self doubts.

  13. I feel an Oprah ugly cry coming on! So awesome! It is true – People (our children especially) don’t care what you know until they know that you care. If they know they are loved, that they are believed in…they can conquer the world and anything that life throws out them!

    • Love this SO MUCH.
      “People (our children especially) don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
      So beautiful and so true. :)

  14. Those are such fantastic words and I don’t think I tell my kids this.
    But thanks for inspiring me because i will let them know…starting today that I believe in them…

  15. I’m crying as I read this. What a beautiful story about paying attention and understanding what your child really needs then following through with a meaningful daily affirmation. This is so different than the “everybody get a trophy, everyone is a winner” type of self esteem building. And the “you can be anything you want” which I think sometimes puts more pressure on kids.

    Your simple statement, “Remember that I believe in you.” means no matter what you are in her corner. It also means, as your daughter interpreted and expressed in her beautiful dedication, that you believe she will always try to do her best and will challenge herself daily. Your words give her both confidence and protection and they are perfect!

    • Aww, Mo, you made me cry with this comment. You are SO SWEET! :) Sometimes I think that daily affirmations can become trite but in this case, I believe it was exactly what she needed. :)

  16. Woah. You just opened a window into something in my soul. I am now crying. You are an amazing mother. I need to make sure my children know that I believe in them, because no one ever believed in me. xoxo

    • Having met you in real life, I find it devastating that no one ever believed in you…you are so worthy of belief and so amazing. Something tells me your children will never feel that way. :)

    • Thank you Melinda…it was nice to get some validation sooner rather than later and to know that I was making a difference. :)

  17. Sometimes I worry that my nine year old daughter is a little weird and out of place. She’s also a bit immature for her age (she still watches {and loves} preschool television programming). Just this morning she was getting ready for camp and she came to me with Tinkerbell toe socks pulled up to her knees and asked if she could wear flip flops. I love that she is quirky and does her own thing, but I worry about when the other kids start pointing it out and making fun of her. I told her that it was fine with me, but that some people might think it looks silly. She ended up taking off the socks, and I worried that I have muted her creativity. She still wears stripes and plaids together, though; so I’ve not lost all hope!

    • She sounds absolutely wonderful Rabia, but I also know what you mean about worrying for her…I have no doubt that you are an amazing mother who is protecting her every step of the way! :)

    • I definitely do…in fact, it is where I get most of my information from her…a special time for sure! :)

  18. I love this post so much. Those words are so important because that self-doubt can creep in sometimes. Thank you for this reminder.

  19. Oh my god this is so sweet I almost started crying! That is so awesome. As a girl/woman/lady who struggled with self-confidence at a young age, and definitely began to question myself way too early, I wholeheartedly support this tradition! That is so awesome and sweet of you, and I love that you knew she needed to hear some kind, encouraging words. I’m so glad you got to find out how well it was working, though-I bet that moment was awesome!

    • It was really one of my parenting highlight reel moments for sure…and it felt really good to know that the message was being received! :)

  20. Isn’t it wonderful when you get tangible proof that you are doing this parenting thing right? Our kids hear us, even when we think they aren’t listening. Thanks for reminding me of that!

    • Given that the proof that I am not totally messing up this parenting gig is hard to come by, yes, it was really validating! :)

  21. OMG I’m crying! You are an amazing Mom and she is so lucky to have you!!! I lost my mom to cancer when I was 17 and I miss her everyday but in those 17 years she made me the strong woman I am today! Onward amazing moms raising amazing girls!!! I am in awe of you!!

    • Oh Allie…hugs. :( Being motherless is hard and being a motherless mother is even harder. I have no doubt that your mom is smiling down upon the person you are knowing that she helped get you there.

  22. Oh, I am a blithering idiot here! I can hardly see through my tears. That was beautiful. Just beautiful. You are a wonderful mama. It’s interesting that we just wrote about self-esteem in kids, and how it is bad to overpraise them with global, disingenuous “Good job!”s all the time. But you have shed light on the other side of the subject- an even more important side, in my opinion. The importance of bolstering our children, especially during crucial times of transition. The importance of showing them that they are special, and that we believe in them. One of my favorite posts of yours, ladies. Wow.

    • Awww, Stephanie…you are making ME cry! Thank you for this…I loved the self-esteem post that y’all did, by the way. I thought it was amazing. :)

  23. This is just so beautiful. I’m all teary:) It’s amazing how she really took your words to heart – they have shaped her!!!! So special that you saw the impact – and know how important what you say is to her. Beautiful.

    • Thank you Leah. I love that those words have shaped her, too…I like to think that one day she will say them to her children. :)

  24. My daughter Fallyn made a Mother’s Day gift like this last year in preschool. The statement was “My mommy looks the prettiest when she…” And her response was “goes to the bar!!!” As funny as it was and still is, I haven’t been to a bar since before her older brother was born. I got some grief from her teacher and other parents because they took it for what it said, but everyone that knows me thought it was hilarious because who knew she even knew what a bar was. I thanked her for her thoughtful gift and love it! And get a good laugh EVERYTIME I see it!

  25. This is so incredibly sweet! I love the way you incorporated non-threatening methods to help build up her self-confidence and affirm not just your love, but your support. Clearly, it made an impact. I wouldn’t be surprised if this became one of her favorite childhood memories.

    • Oh, I hope it does Leslie! That would really mean a lot to me…I certainly know that it is one of my favorite memories! :)

  26. So sweet! We say “I love you” plenty of times, but sometimes other phrases like this can be just as important. Goo for you for sticking with it! What a beautiful tribute from you daughter. I think you both got something you will never forget! :-)

    • Thanks Lisa! I totally agree with you about having other phrases besides “I love you” in our bag of tricks! :)

  27. Oh my sweet goodness, that is so sweet. I had originally read this this morning while I was still in bed (thank you bloglovin’) and it just about brought tears to my eyes. As a former elementary teacher, there is just something so special about the written word with children. It is so honest and so vulnerable. I love everything about this treasure of a post!!!!!

    • Thank you so much Karen! Love this comment…totally agree with you about what children write…it is the best! :)

  28. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful mama you are and what a perfect idea (the talks, the book, the notes).My almost 10 year old has been sharing some similar self doubts recently and your idea reasonates for me. Thank you! And hugs to you and that amazing daughter of yours!

  29. This is so sweet! It is tough being a girl and dealing with the self conscious issues that start when we become adolescent preteens. I pray constantly for God daughter and hope that she continues to trust the guidance of her mother and loved ones and make good decisions. Little things like notes from my mother and special treats from my father always made me feel special.

  30. Oh my god, this is so sweet I might just cry. You’re a great mom and it was about time you knew it yourself. I’m going to call my mom now…and tell her pretty much the same thing :)

  31. Oh my gosh I just got chills reading that! Way to go mom…and seriously that is the sweetest note from your daughter…looks like you are doing things right!

  32. That brought tears to my eyes!! I love this post, so sweet and encouraging. I am going to find that book for my daughter as well. She may be a little old for it, but the sentiment is what I want to show. Thanks for this!

    • You should definitely get that book for your daughter…even if she is too old, she will still appreciate the sentiment. :)

  33. trying to type with the tears flowing down my face woman…that is just so beautiful and a wonderful example of motherhood and how we need to raise our kids up

  34. What beautiful proof that small, daily affirmations have a profound and lasting impact. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m crying into my coffee over here!

  35. What a beautiful post. And what a lovely gift you gave your daughter. Great job noticing her struggles and trying to help. I’m glad you were rewarded with the validation that it’s working. So often our work as moms doesn’t show in their lives for many years. It’s nice when we get a little gift like this one.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  36. Ummm, hello, I am on vacation this weekend and sitting here by the pool crying!!! Wow, what a touching post. Thank you for writing this. I want to be the kind of mom you are one day. I have already started a collection of children’s books and have added yours into my Amazon cart.

  37. Oh that just makes my skip a beat! Sometimes we despair and wonder if our children will ever learn the lessons we work so diligently to teach. When we get to see the fruit, though, it is a heart-overflowing moment.
    Thanks for sharing this glimpse of lessons of love! Your daughter is truly blessed by you.

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