Words Matter in Parenting

February 11, 2014 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

As Bob approaches his teen years (only one more month to go), I’m reminded of how important conversations will be, now more than ever. Words are powerful. Not only do they have the potential to build up; they also have the potential to hurt. With Bob, I’ve tried to use words that are loving, helpful and kind. But, I’m reminded of how hurtful words can be especially when I think of my own childhood and teen years.

[caption id="attachment_2430" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Words Matter"]When parenting, words matter. Here are three ways that words have an impact on the emotional life of a child. By Heiddi Zalamar of Life with Bob.[/caption]

Parenting and Sharing Feelings

Bob and I are pretty open with one another about our feelings – both positive and negative. I’ve taught him to be more expressive, even if it is to say that he is upset with me. Why? Because I wasn’t allowed to express any anger as a child. I was not given permission. It was as if I didn’t have a voice, and for many years, that was the case. I learned to bottle up my feelings and hide them behind a smile. Not sharing my feelings hurt because I could not be truthful about them. In fact, I became afraid to confront anyone about something I didn’t like. Even now, my heart races when I have to talk to someone about negative feelings. It was so easy to teach Bob to share his feelings with me. I simply expressed my own in a healthy way. Sharing our feelings allows us to connect in a very special way.

Parenting and Building Trust

Another way that words matter is in how much kids trust their parents. My parents weren’t those who were open about their feelings and trust for me. They were working parents simply trying to do for their children in that same way their parents did for them. It was hard to go to them with a problem because they’d react to it negatively. For example, I had been teased for years by another student. Bullying 20 years ago wasn’t as well-known as it is today. I’d come home crying about being teased and they told me to toughen up. When I realized that I could not go to them with a problem, I felt I couldn’t trust them. I didn’t want Bob to feel the same towards me. So, I’ve shown him how to be unafraid to talk to me if he has a problem. Now that he’s becoming a teenager, I hope that he will continue to see me as a trustworthy parent.

Encouraging Positive Self-Esteem

For years, I’ve struggled with a low self-esteem. My parents were not very expressive about talents, pride or even love. It just wasn’t their way. In fact, I find it awkward now when my father tells me that he loves me and is proud of me. With Bob, I’ve tried to do something different. I didn’t want him to feel the way that I did – alone. So, I’ve shared how proud I am and talented I think he is. Kids need to hear everything – good and bad. But, there has to be a balance. Bob knows that he has many positive qualities as well as things to work on. Words to build up a child’s self-esteem matter so much because it gives them a sense of good relationship with themselves and others.

Word Matter in Parenting

Words matter. They make a huge difference in a child’s life. By taking the time to share words that matter, you can help your child in more ways than you can imagine.

Photo credit: Key Foster via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2014, February 11). Words Matter in Parenting, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

February, 22 2014 at 8:19 pm

Such a great post with so much meaningful tips! Word do matter, they build us as adults!! Hope many parents will find this post!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 24 2014 at 3:15 pm

Hi Amelia,
Thank you for reading and thanks for the compliment. Words DO matter, very much. This post came from my own childhood experience of not having that encouragement and support. Today though, I can see how much that shaped my parenting style. Now Bob can have the benefit of feeling supported and loved. Take care and please visit again soon. :)

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