"Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids," by Paul Axtell, ($15.85, Jackson Creek Press," compares a list Axtell was given 20 years ago about the most common things parents say to their children. You’ve probably said them yourself:


Don’t give me those excuses.

Let me put it another way.

I don’t have time now, maybe later.

Do you think I’m made out of money?

Just wait until you have kids of your own.

What in the world do you think you are doing?

Don’t eat a snack; dinner is almost ready.

Be nice to your little sister (brother).

Clean your room.

When I was your age …

Are you lying to me?

Eat your dinner; there are children starving all over the world.

Can’t you understand what I’m trying to tell you?

Can’t you ever do anything right?

Who do you think you are?

Why don’t you grow up?

This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you.

When are you ever going to learn?

Do it now!

Can’t you kids get along with each other?

Why can’t you be more like …?

Go to your room!

Do your homework!

Don’t use that tone of voice with me!

Shut up and listen to me!

You’re not old enough to understand that yet.

Here, let me show you how to do it right.

I’m doing this for your own good.

Turn that radio down.

Of course, the last one shows how dated this list might be… what kid is listening to the radio now? They are all streaming. Still, these phrases are hurtful to kids, Axtell argues. We adults need to think before we speak.

Instead, he suggests there are 10 things we should be saying to our kids:

I like you.

You’re a fast learner.

Thank you.

How about we agree to …

Tell me more.

Let’s read.

We all make mistakes.

I’m sorry.

What do you think?


He goes through all 10 things and talks about how you can change the conversation you’re having with your children. He even helps you practice how to build making conversation as a family.