Kids have had a rough couple of years. As more and more of them start to return to normalcy as COVID cases have been trending downward, they’re faced with more and more responsibilities, social skills to practice, and mental stimulation, and it can be overwhelming. With so much on their plates these days, it’s totally natural that your kids may need an emotional boost from time to time.
As they go about their busy day, it can be a bigger help than you may realize to receive a sweet, unprompted message via text, a post-it note in the backpack or on the bathroom mirror, or even a note slipped under their pillow. It’s a simple way to connect while you’re not in the same space (or even when you’re just in different rooms in the house), and remind them that they are supported. Here are seven messages you can send your kid when they need a boost—
1. “I’m thinking about you.”
Letting them know that they’re on your mind is a great way to show that you care about them and what’s going on in their day. It can feel isolating to experience stress as a kid, before they’ve developed helpful coping mechanisms and gained the perspective of experience. Reminding them that they’re important to you whether you’re near or far—and no matter what they’re going through—can be a great way to reconnect and lessen that stress.
2. “How can I help you?”
Offer some space for them to ask for help if they need it. Some kids won’t ask unless prompted, and it’s good for every kid to know that someone is looking out for them when they’re having a hard day. If they’re really upset, it might help to offer some specific options. You might say, “What would help you more—having a snack or going on a walk together?”
3. “You should be proud of yourself.”
Remind them that they are doing a LOT, and it doesn’t go unnoticed! It can be easy to feel unseen as a kid. Let them know that you recognize how much they’re managing on their own, whether it be school, extracurriculars, being a good friend, or being helpful at home. Everyone likes to feel appreciated! You might start with an acknowledgement of something you noticed they did recently, like helping a sibling or being kind to the new kid in class, and then remind them to be proud of themselves.
Saying, “I’m so proud of you” is nice, but it can encourage kids to be motivated to do great things for the approval of others, rather than finding that motivation within themselves. Saying, “You should be proud of yourself” instead gives them ownership of that accomplishment and the feeling that comes with it!
4. “I’m here if you need to talk.”
Make sure they know that your lines of communication are always open. You are a safe place for them to vent their feelings and frustrations, so it’s important to remind them they can always come to you about anything.
5. “What do you want to do later?”
Putting the ball in their court and giving them some control over their time can be really empowering for kids. They spend so much of their time following directions and sticking to routines. It can be a great boost for kids to call the shots every once in a while! Variations might include, “What would you like for dinner?” “Would you like to invite a friend over this weekend?” or, “Do you feel like getting in some driving practice tonight?”—anything that puts them in charge of a decision.
6. “We’ll work together to make the rest of your day better.”
This one lets them know that you’re invested in how their day turns out, and that you’re going to support them and help them process what’s going on. Kids can have a hard time processing stress on their own, so it can be really comforting to know they have someone to help them through it.
A simple heart or kissy face emoji is a quick and easy way to let your kid know you’re thinking of them throughout the day. It can be even more fun to come up with a secret emoji you only use with each other. Try something truly random, like the teddy bear or the roller skate! It can be your secret way of saying, “Hi, I’m thinking of you!”