Words have Power

The other day in church, we were asked to invent something with Lego. This was to illustrate the point that we are creative beings. Fortunately, we were also given the option of using pen and paper, which I felt more comfortable with. I decided to express my thoughts in words – another form of creativity.

This got me thinking about the creative power of the words we use with our children.

Words can be used in a positive or negative way. Nagging, criticising, putting down are all ways of damaging a child’s self-esteem and does nothing to encourage their beautiful inner self to shine through.

A significant session on the parenting courses I have facilitated on behalf of InterACT is one about talking to children. We use a DVD which shows a woman talking to her friend, using a tone which is often used by adults with children. The woman gives constant instructions, is very demanding and shows a lack of consideration to her friend’s feelings. As we watch the DVD, all the parents in the room seem to draw breath and admit that they sometimes speak like that to their child but would never consider or dare to speak in that way to their friend. Each parent resolves to go home and be different after that, as they realise that their own child deserves to be spoken to with respect and consideration.

Be careful with the words that you use and the way that you use them, especially when you are angry.

Avoid labelling a child, even if you see it as a joke. Names like clumsy, trouble maker or slow coach can have a long term and damaging effect.

Pause for thought:

Spend a few moments thinking about a time when you received harsh words.

How did it make you feel?

Are you still affected by that experience?

Now think of a time when you shared something with someone and they showed they were really interested in you. They gave you respect and used encouraging words.

Did that experience have a positive effect on you?

So, let’s end thinking about a way that we can increase our children’s self-esteem and self-worth (and ours)


 Praise works wonders with children. It helps them feel good about themselves and encourages them to behave well. There are two kinds of praise you could use:

  • Praise for doing: For example, recognising a child’s efforts, like sharing a toy with their friend.
  • Praise for being: just for who they are. Notice your child’s individuality.

Praise is more effective when it is specific, rather than phrases like “good girl”. Use encouraging phrases: – “I like it when you help me by washing the dishes”.

So to end: Words have power and can build up or tear down, so if we want to help our children to grow in a positive way, they need love support and encouraging words.