Words to live by in our house

I recently posted about words which are banned in our family. Being of a positive turn of mind, I’d far rather post about words we welcome and encourage. As with the banned words, we lead by example – or try to!


We use the word love every day. Someone suggested that such frequent use trivialised the word and made it meaningless. I disagree with this one – love is like hugs. You can never have too many and talking about it generates it. I tell each of the children that I love them each day as I drop them to their assorted drop off points. If ever I was hit by a bus, I’d like them to remember that the last words they heard from me were words of love.

Please and thank you

To my mind, manners are non-negotiable. I use manners when I ask the children to do something, when they do something I ask, and equally as I’m talking to my husband. Yes, my life would be easier if I didn’t insist on these, but I want to send my children out into the world able to talk to anyone politely. If you are making a request, you should frame it with a please. If someone has done something for you, or given you something, you should thank them.  It’s as simple as that.

Great job, well done, great effort

We use these phrases, and words, when the children deserve it – that is to say, when they have done a great job or done something well. I think it is possible to over-praise, or to give empty praise, and I want my children to feel wonderful about their real accomplishments and efforts.

I like…

Normally followed by “how you’ve sat nicely and eaten your dinner” or “that you brought your lunchbox to the kitchen without being asked” or even “how you dealt with your brother.” I believe that the positive reinforcement you give children helps support and encourage them. It’s not empty or over-effusive praise, it’s an acknowledgement that you’ve noticed what they’re doing. Incidentally, I also use this with my team at work and they seem to appreciate it too!

Positive words

Much as we discourage the negative words, we encourage positive words and phrases. Rather than saying “Yuck, I don’t like this dinner!” we say “Thanks [whoever made the dinner] for making me this meal. I’ve tried it but I don’t really like it much. May I have something else please?” We also try and be kind in our comments on people’s outfits or hairstyles or viewing tastes. Not always successfully, and there’s a fair amount of ribbing that goes on, but you get the idea!

We try to make our choice of words at home positive, as we try to make our environment loving and nurturing. Do we always manage? No. But the striving is important and we improve day by day. I’d love to hear ways that you bring positivity to your family, home or working life. I’m always open to new ideas!

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