The 3 Words Parents Should Say to Their Kids When They Want to Talk

Do your best to resist the need to fix it.

Albiona M. Rakipi
The Motherload
Published in
4 min readJun 27, 2021

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Photo by Zach Lucero Unsplash

There is this belief that to be an effective parent you have to fix and solve every problem, and the faster you solve it the better. This leads to immediate reassurance the minute our kids come to us with any type of self-doubt or problem.

Observing my own actions as a parent I saw how quickly I would reassure my kids, in particular my daughter. For example, she would come to me afraid or nervous before a soccer game and say, “I’m so nervous about my game.” I would immediately respond, “Don’t be nervous!” This was quickly followed by words of encouragement letting her know how amazing I think she is. Everything I said was rooted in good intentions.

I wanted to reassure her and let her know she’s more than capable of handling the game, and I was going to be right there to support her. I would argue my response was pretty similar to what you would say if your child came to you with the same statement.

The problem was, I wasn’t listening. She didn’t ask a question. She didn’t say, “Should I be nervous about the game?” She came to me and said, “I am nervous.” My need to take her out of an uncomfortable space didn’t allow her to fully express herself.

Now, when either child comes to me with this type of statement, I say, “Tell me why.”

My job at that moment is to hold space and let them express what they need to. This doesn’t mean we’re never encouraging or reassuring. But when they come to us needing to voice their vulnerabilities, it’s important that we listen wholeheartedly. Not jump in and interject with a solution.

It would be the equivalent of you trying to vent to your partner, and he or she immediately stops you to fix the problem or reassure you. That is not what we always need. Sometimes we just want the space to express ourselves.

If we let our kids talk their way through it, often they can reach a solution on their own. It might take us asking thoughtful questions, but that can only happen if you’re tuned in and listening. This is particularly true as kids get older.

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Albiona M. Rakipi
The Motherload

Parenting coach, writer, podcast host (The Parenting Reframe), pediatric SLP, learn more at theparentingreframe.com.