Words of Affirmation and Children

If you are familiar with the Five Love Languages (of Children), you know every person (and child) has a special language they give and receive love. While this is true, I have yet to see a child not greatly impacted by words no matter their primary "love language."

As I put J down for a nap today, I snuggled close to her and whispered in her ear a little ritual we do often. "I love your smile. I love your giggle. I love your love of life. I love your expressions. I love how you capture attention. I love your ability to entertain any time any where. I love your wit. I love your one liners. I love how you make me laugh. I love how you love. I love your passion. I love how you play a crowd. I love to watch you dance. I love your chocolate eyes. I love you. From the top of your hair to the tip of your toes." With each encouraging word her body relaxed, her breathing evened out, her smile grew big, and she snuggled closer to me. She responded physically and emotionally. All of my kids do the same thing. When you begin to tell them all that you love about them, their heart and eyes latch on and their heart and body respond to words of life pouring into them.

Critical or threatening words also elicit a physical and emotional response. I love my children, but one of my gravest flaws as a mom is my lack of self control in the area of words. No I don't name call, or curse, but I do yell and criticize. It is a generational sin I fight every day. What can I say, I am Italian. ;) Yelling was such a part of my home growing up, a part of my culture. Then I married a boy from Mississippi. We often joke that our wedding was My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Sweet Home Alabama! He is gentle and soft spoken. Refined. To make him angry it is usually a slow boil, rarely boiling over. I, on the other hand, am a volcano. He is helping me to make this volcano dormant . . . this is no easy task!

Just as they respond wholly to words of encouragement, all of my children respond physically to yelling. They get tense, move farther away physically, eyes downcast, fear in their eyes. Yes they know I would never hurt them physically, yet their affect shows their emotional pain. C is the most dramatic physically. He cowers. If I begin to yell he hides or runs or will get into a ball or cover his ears. I rarely yell at C. As soon as I begin and he acts like I have physically beat him, I immediately check my voice and usually whisper a much better response. His response is extreme, but it shows exactly what all children feel when they hear yelling and criticism. While I am saddened that I ever yell at C, I appreciate his extreme response because it is a grave reminder of how damaging that habit can be.

In the same way, C responds the most physically when receiving words of affirmation. Each word of encouragement calms him, fills his soul, encourages his heart, and breathes life into his precious being. Seeing this response is a physical reminder to fill their hearts with words of encouragement. Research shows that children need 13 affirmations per 1 negative comment, correction, or criticism. 13 to 1!!! Oh, how backwards things are here all too often. I am deepening my commitment to speak words that encourage and affirm, telling these precious three children in my life what I really think about them. That they are fantastic, amazing, talented, intelligent, loved, cherished, and mine!

I want to speak life, not judgment. Encouragement not criticism. This is an area of my life that I struggle with daily, but I will not give in. I will fight my flesh everyday to speak life.


  1. 13 to 1! Wow! I knew it was a lot, but I'm glad to know exactly how important words of affirmation are! :) Thanks for sharing, Nicole.

    1. It does seem crazy doesn't it! It certainly raises the bar and gives us something to reach for! ;) Thanks for stopping by!!! :)


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