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Every day, I send my kids off to school with these 3 words your kids need to hear.  And I cannot tell you what an impact it has on their days, as well as my own… because these three words work for any age.

The 3 Words Your Kids Need To Hear

Someone yanks the toy away from your four-year-old at preschool.

Your daughter’s on-again/off-again friend leaves her out at recess.

Everyone’s swearing on the bus while your son rides home from middle school.

A little girl who dresses differently is made the butt of all the jokes by a group of kids.

Your daughter is feeling the pressure to have a boyfriend, despite being only 12.

These are the things our kids face every day…most of them outside of our watchful eyes.  With school, extracurriculars, and the general autonomy that grows with age and maturity, our kids are out of our sight sometimes more than half of their waking hours.

A little scary when you think about it that way.

So what will guide them when they are not with you and face things like inequity, bullying, loneliness, and peer pressure?

Yes, on an obvious note, we should be setting a good example at home.

We should be modeling the behavior we want our kids to have – kindness, respect for others, an acceptance of differences both physical and mental.

But it’s different with adults. How often are you in a situation where adults are bullying one adult in the group and making him or her cry? Please God, tell me never.

The point is, a lot of situations our kids will encounter are not ones they will actually SEE their parents deal with.

So yes, the foundation you build at home will help them develop the ethics and moral compass that will guide them in these situations.

But as to that part about them being away from youwhat can we do?

Well let’s think back about how you or I may have acted when our parents weren’t around.

I’m not saying I was bad…but I was different.  

So I realize my kids are no exception.  And it doesn’t make them bad either – they are doing exactly what every kid from the beginning of creation has done.  

They are forging their own path – learning how to handle themselves in this brave new world.

Three Words They Need To Hear Every Single Day…

So what can we do to make sure what we have spent years teaching actually stays with them as they go out the door?

Well, I can tell you what I’m telling my kids… three simple words.  

And no, it’s not “I love you”… (though they need to hear that, too.)

As we drive to school each morning and the girls are looking at me for one last time before they leave, I tell them…


In unsaid words, I’m telling them so many things:

  • Take the love and the way I raised you and hold it tight as you leave me. 
  • Don’t forget who you are…what you stand for…where you come from.
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes that’s feeling lonely, ostracized, or being made fun of.
  • Respond with love when someone hurts you, or at the very least, walk away.
  • Don’t hesitate to tell an adult if you see something that is wrong.
  • Remember that not everyone you come in contact with has parents that love them, a home that supports them, and a safe haven to return to that night.
  • Keep in mind that we all are faced with the choice to either help someone or hurt someone…either by our actions or our lack thereof.
  • Make the choice in every situation that will let you come home and rest easy that night. As simple as not hitting a kid in preschool when he took your toys or as complex as walking away when all the other kids “are doing it.”  Whatever “IT” may be.

(Find this print, Make Good Choices, here.)

Because sometimes our children need to hear our voice in their head in those moments. 

Not a voice telling them they will get in trouble.

Or that we will be disappointed.

But a voice that says I love you.  I trust you.  You have a good heart.  Make good choices.

Remember that the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

You got this…

You’re welcome to join my FREE e-mail series called One on One time.   It is completely free & I will send you this calendar to get you started. 🙂 

A close up 30-day printable calendar to spend one on one time with child

💛 This post was written by my very dear friend, Hillary Cole. Hillary is the mother to two sweet, generous, and kind daughters.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Well said. Thank you for sharing. The Mom, Grandma, Auntie/Teacher all appreciate your wisdom.

  2. I love this each time I read it I gain courage to learn more on how to raise my kids

  3. I love this. We often think of all the things we need to do for our kids, and teaching them to make good choices on their own can be overlooked. Thanks for the great reminder.

  4. I would love to hand out your article to my first grade parents at parent teacher conferences this week! Would you mind and do you have a ‘printable’ copy?

    1. Hi Mindy,
      I’m sorry that I missed this message. I’ll email you a printable PDF (without images) so you can send a copy home with your students (if I missed the conferences).
      I’ll send it to the email that you left with your comment. 🙂


  5. I’d say to my kid over and over, “There are consequences to choices. Choose a choice that has a consequence you like. If you don’t like the consequence next time make a different choice.”. She knew that the consequence in our house (ignoring other “natural consequences from a choice) was everything she valued was taking away for 24-28 hours (once a pre-teen, much shorter when younger). Then we’d talk about her choice, what she should have chosen, what she will do next time, how she will talk herself into making a choice she knows she should make when that voice in her head is trying to talk her out of it… When we were done I’d then say, “Now you have second chance to get right next time”. Hahaha about the billionth second chance.

    One time she snuck out. I caught her. She said, “I know I know mom” (and went to drag her mattress into my room to put on the floor – I also took away the door to her room since she valued that). Then she said, for the first time, “I thought about it before I snuck and and decided it was worth the consequence.” I said, glad you thought about it but it sounds to me like the consequences aren’t severe enough. “. She looked horrified. LOL. I didn’t change the consequence (and you don’t change in advance a consequence, they need to know in advance what the consequence will be) because for the first time that I knew of she had actually thought about it before acting even though she made the wrong choice.

    1. I would say that in possible you should allow your kids to not put themselves in anyone else’s shoes that’s feeling lonely, ostracized, or being made fun of and not respond with love when someone hurts them, or at the very least, walk away and hesitate to tell an adult even if they see something that is wrong.