6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say

6 Short Sentences Your Kids Need to Hear


In raising our five children, Susan and I have tried to consistently convey to each of them these 6 short sentences. We’ve done it with our words and our actions. And, as I write this post, I’m realizing I need to say these things even more because they can’t be said enough.

Saying these 6 short sentences will give your child a strong sense of security, identity, belonging, and value.

1. “I’m here for you.”
Being available for your child is incredibly important.  They may not need you when you tell them this, but they’ll remember you promised to be available to them when they need you the most. This sentence is more than just giving them permission to find you when the going gets rough…it’s an invitation to them.  It tells them, “I will do whatever I can to help you whenever you need me.”

2. “I’m proud of you.”
Some middle-aged men I’ve talked to have never heard, or have waited years to hear, their dad say “I’m proud of you.”  And many of  them thought if they just performed better, if they just made it big in sports, or if they just had a thriving money-making career, their dad just might notice. Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t make your kids wait. Tell them today.

3. “I believe in you.”
Remember back to your teen and early adult years?  How confident were you in yourself?  And how confident are you today in yourself?  Self-doubt and second-guessing come with the territory of being human.  And you can be a great source of support to your child through these struggles. Your child needs to know that somebody somewhere in this world believes in them and their immeasurable value.

4. “I want the best for you.”
This sentence has a couple of benefits.  First, it tells your child that you have a purpose behind your parenting.  They may not understand how you see “what’s best”…and they may not even agree with you, but they will hopefully start to appreciate it over time as they see you working hard to do what’s in their best interests.  I have often said to each of my kids, “I’m doing this or saying this because I always have your best interests at heart.”  And they know they can always trust me. Second, it puts you in their corner.  Again, they may not always see how your ideas, your standards, or your consequences are really for their benefit, but giving them this regular reminder at least assures them, in the depths of their heart, that you are for them, not against them.

5. “I will stand with you.”
I saw a video recently of a dad dancing with his daughter at a talent show.  The girl had a severe and rare disorder that keeps her from having almost any muscle tone, control, or physical abilities of her own.  But as her dad picked her up out of her chair and danced around the stage, her nearly inexpressive face suddenly blossomed with a huge smile.  This girl knows that her dad is willing to risk embarrassment, harassment, or scorn from any person in order to be counted with her.  This sentence tells your child that you are willing to be identified with them even when they’ve made a mistake or have to do hard things.

6. “I love you.”
This is, quite simply, a sentence that cannot be said too many times.  Big family moment?  “I love you.”  Quiet and quick goodnight? “I love you.”  Dropping them off at school or a job? “I love you.”  Just for no particular reason at all in the middle of the day?  “I love you.”

Has your child heard any of these sentences from you recently? How did they react? Please share your story below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • NumbersGirl07

    Thank you for these reminders!
    I’ll be in the car and reach back and tickle or gently touch my 4yr olds knee. “I love you sweetheart. ” And she responds, “I love you too, mama.” It’s beautiful and makes my heart smile, even when she pretends not to hear me 🙂
    The other thing that I’m reminded of as I read this is as adults, we need to hear these things too, and we do from our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • drrichardnorris

    Good reminders. These actually apply to any leader, friend or family member.

  • Happy Mama

    I totally missed out on hugs, kisses, “I Love You’s” and similar expressions from my parents, but that didn’t give me excuse to withhold those from my children. I used them freely and still do even now that they are adults. And like the mama of the 4 year old in another comment, I hear those same things back. God graciously filled the void!

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  • Thanks for the insight. I have to add the other 5 phrases, ‘I love you’ has been done …

  • Great post Mark. I would add, “You’re my boy/girl.” People, especially our children, have a strong need to belong. When they already have a sense of belonging, they will be less apt to look for it elsewhere.

  • Charmain Ross

    This is a very wonderful post, which is
    especially great for me to see. I have an eight-year-old daughter named Chloe. She does not identify with being a girl, she is a tomboy. I was the same as a child but her case is a little bit different. She is constantly asking me about if the things she does makes her seem more like a boy. I do not think that is appropriate for me to make that decision for her, so I just tell her that she is just Chloe. I do very often tell her the sentences that are posted above. I don’t know if this is a phase that she’s going to grow out of, or if this is just who she
    is permanently. Either way sentences like these can lay the foundations for the acceptance of herself and knowing that I will always be there for her no matter what she decides to do in life and that I will always love her no matter what

  • Charmain Ross

    I’d also like to say that any parents that have a child or children like mine all of the sentences are crucial for their self-esteem. All children want to feel like they fit in or they belong, and as a parent when you see your child struggling because they feel like they don’t fit in it can be heartbreaking. So with her dad and I, and her extended family excepting and loving and
    always being there for her,I have very high hopes for her Journey through life. Thank you so much. Any comments would be appreciated of parents who can empathize with my

  • Sheri Dice

    My children hear each of these on a daily basis. It didn’t stop one of my 16 year old sons from packing his things and moving out during the night. I’ve tried to be the best mom possible, but my heart is broken.

  • Lauren


    I just prayed for your heart and the heart of your son. I am so sorry to hear that your child has responded in rebellion. Thank you for saying these things to your children.


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  • You’re absolutely right! Thank you for sharing.

  • Christy

    Why not just tell her that girls can do anything boys can do and that it’s ok for her to be a tomboy. That just because she likes to play sports, fix cars, work on things, or whatever, that doesn’t mean she’s supposed to be a boy. I’m a huge tomboy but I’m also a wife and mother and couldn’t be happier! They call me the whirlpool repair mom because I’m always fixing the dishwasher or dryer. I played softball 7 days a week for years until I got too old and banged up. But I was always still a girl. Just my thoughts but it’s ok to be like a boy without becoming a boy.

  • wendyt

    Such an astoundingly simple answer! Would that the world would hear them before more children are misguided into making decisions with lifelong, even eternal consequences.

  • Armando

    I tell my son at least 20 times a day, if not more, that I love him. I even tell him I am proud to be his Dad.