Six Words You Should Say Today

If you have ever experienced an emotional response simply by watching someone you love in action, I’ve got six words for you.

Very rarely does one sentence have immediate impact on me.

Very rarely does one sentence change the way I interact with my family.

But this one did. It was not from Henry Thoreau or some renowned child psychologist. It was a comment from kids themselves. And if I’ve learned anything on this “Hands Free” journey, it is that children are the true experts when it comes to “grasping what really matters.”

Here are the words that changed it all:

“… College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’”

The life-changing sentence came at the beginning of an article entitled, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One” which described powerful insights gathered over three decades by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC. Although I finished reading the entire piece, my eyes went back and searched for that one particular sentence; the one that said, “I love to watch you play.”

I read it exactly five times. And then I attempted to remember all past verbal interactions I had with my kids at the conclusion of their extracurricular activities.

Upon completion of a swim meet, a music recital, a school musical, or even a Sunday afternoon soccer game, had I ever said, “I like to watch you play”?

I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented, and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed.

By nature, I am a wordy person—wordy on phone messages (often getting cut off by that intrusive beep) and wordy in writing (Twitter is not my friend).

And although I have never really thought about, I’m pretty sure I’m wordy in my praise, too. I try not to criticize, but when I go into extensive detail about my child’s performance it could be misinterpreted as not being “good enough.”

Could I really just say “I love to watch you play” and leave it at that? And if I did, would my children stand there cluelessly at the next sporting event or musical performance because I had failed to provide all the “extra details” the time before?

Well, I would soon find out. As luck would have it, my 8 year old had a swim meet the day after I read the article.

Her first event was the 25 yard freestyle. At the sound of the buzzer, my daughter exploded off the blocks and effortlessly streamlined beneath the water for an unimaginable amount of time. Her sturdy arms, acting as propellers, emerged from the water driving her body forward at lightning speed. She hadn’t even made it halfway down the lane when I reached up to wipe away one small tear that formed in the corner of my eye.

Since my oldest daughter began swimming competitively two years ago, I have ALWAYS had this same reaction to her first strokes in the first heat. I cry and turn away so no one sees my blubbering reaction.

I cry not because she’s going to come in first.

I cry not because she’s a future Olympian or scholarship recipient.

I cry because she’s healthy; she’s strong; she’s capable.

And I cry because I love to watch her swim.

Oh my. Those six words …

I love to watch her swim.

I had always FELT that way—tearing up at every meet, but I hadn’t said it in so many words … or should I say, in so few words.

After the meet, my daughter and I stood in the locker room together, just the two of us. I wrapped a warm, dry towel around her shivering shoulders. And then I looked into her eyes and said, “I love to watch you swim. You glide so gracefully; you amaze me. I just love to watch you swim.”

Okay, so it wasn’t quite six words, but it was a huge reduction in what I normally would have said. And there was a reaction—a new reaction to my end of the meet “pep talk.”

My daughter slowly leaned into me, resting her damp head against my chest for several seconds, and expelled a heavy sigh.  And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure’s off. She just loves to watch me swim; that is all.

I knew I was onto something.

Several days later, my 5 year old daughter had ukulele practice. It was a big day for her. The colored dots that lined the neck of her instrument since she started playing almost two years ago, were going to be removed. Her instructor believed she was ready to play without the aid of the stickers.

After removing the small blue, yellow, and red circles, her instructor asked her to play the song she has been working on for months, Taylor Swift’s “Ours.”

With no hesitation, my daughter began strumming and singing. I watched as her fingers adeptly found their homes—no need for colorful stickers to guide them.

With a confident smile, my daughter belted out her favorite line, “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind; people throw rocks at things that shine …”

As her small, agile fingers maneuvered the strings with ease, I had to look away. My vision became blurred by the tears that formed. In fact, this emotional reaction happens every time she gets to that line of the song. Every. Single. Time.

I cry not because she has perfect pitch.

I cry not because she is a country music star in the making.

I cry because she is happy; she has a voice; and she is free.

And I cry because I love to watch her play.

I’ll be damned if I hadn’t told her this in so many words … or rather, in so few words.

My child and I exited the room upon the completion of her lesson. As we walked down the empty hallway, I knew what needed to be said.

I bent down, looking straight into the blue eyes sheltered behind pink spectacles and said, “I love to watch you play your ukulele. I love to hear you sing.”

It went against my grain to not elaborate, but I said nothing about the dots, nothing about the notes, and nothing about her pitch. This was a time to simply leave it at that.

My child’s face broke into her most glorious smile—the one that causes her eyes to scrunch up and become little slices of joy. And then she did something I didn’t expect. She threw herself against me, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whispered, “Thank you, Mama.”

And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure’s off. She loves to hear me play; that is all.  

Given the overwhelmingly positive reactions of my daughters when presented with the short and sweet “I love to watch you play” remark, I knew I had a new mantra. Not that I would say it like a robot upon command or without reason, but I would say it when I FELT it—when tears come unexpectedly to my eyes or when suddenly I look down and see goosebumps on my arms.

Pretty soon I found myself saying things like:

“I love to watch you read.”

“I love to watch you swing across the monkey bars.”

“I love to watch you gently admire God’s smallest creatures.”

“I love to watch you love your baby cousin.”

I now know how important it is to say it—say it simply—in moments when I feel that heart palpitating kind of love that comes solely from watching another human being who I adore.

Now at this point, I could wrap up this story with a nice, tidy, Kleenex-required ending, but living “Hands Free” means taking it a step further, going outside the comfort zone.

And it struck me that there is one other person to which this new mantra could apply. It hit me when this person, donned with white bandage on his arm from giving blood, was hoisting a large trashbag as we cleaned the art room at a center for residents with autism.

I watched him, my husband, from the corner of the room where I was dusting shelves with my youngest child. Embarrassingly, I had to turn away so no one saw me tear up. In that moment, I reflected on other recent events where I had been going about my business and had to stop to take pause. Moments when I stopped to watch my husband in action simply to admire the loving person, the devoted husband, and caring father he is.

But had I ever told him in so few words?

It was time.

And since writing is much easier for me than speaking, I wrote my observations down. There were no long-winded paragraphs or flowery descriptions, just words of love, plain and simple:

I love watching you help our daughter learn to roller skate.

I love watching you teach her how to throw the football.

I love watching you help your employees in times of need or uncertainty.

I love watching you interact with your brother and sister.

I love watching you read side by side with our daughters.

I love watching you laugh.

I love watching you love our family.

I typed up his note and plan to give it to him when we have a quiet moment together this weekend. I don’t know what his reaction will be, but it doesn’t matter. I feel these things, so I should say these things.

When simply watching someone makes your heart feel as if it could explode right out of your chest, you really should let that person know.

It is as simple and lovely as that.

*********************************************

The next time you feel the need to guide, instruct, or criticize after a ball game, performance, or extracurricular activity, instead consider six simple words: “I love to watch you play.”

Furthermore, if you become emotional simply by watching someone you love in action, consider these six words, “I love to watch you _______.“

In some cases, less is more.

Less can be exactly what they need to hear. No pressure … just love, pure and simple.

My newly released book, Hands Free Mama, describes exactly how I transformed my distracted, perfectionistic, hurried life into one of meaningful connection, inner peace, and gratitude. To learn more or purchase Hand Free Mama, a New York Times Bestseller, click here.

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone,  Burning the To-Do List,  & Letting Go of Perfection  To Grasp What Really Matters!

Hands Free Mama:
A Guide to Putting Down the Phone,
Burning the To-Do List,
& Letting Go of Perfection
To Grasp What Really Matters!

 

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Comments

  1. 1

    Josh Misner says

    What you have just described so eloquently is the topic of my doctoral dissertation, currently in progress. I would love to chat with you about this sometime!

    • 2

      says

      WOW! Josh, what an outstanding topic for your dissertation. First, may I commend you on your remarkable pursuit and wish you well on such a tremendous achievement. Secondly, I would be honored to talk to you in more depth about this topic. As a parent, teacher, and advocate for children in general, I would love to help in any way. My email address is rachelstafford@handsfreemama.com or you can send me a personal message on “The Hands Free Revolution” FB page, as well. Thank you!

      • 4

        says

        I was a teacher for 27 years and always felt that it was very important to praise children without criticizing them…of course I was never a mother. A mother’s job is so much more difficult, because mothers always want the best for their children.. more sometimes than their children can perform, if they are perfectionists and very competitive. In reality that produces too much tension and competition among siblings in a family. It hurts the very core of the family unit. I’ve witnessed it in so many families, having taught in a university town wherever we lived.
        You have come up with the best short-worded praise that makes people feel proud of themselves without feeling any criticism. Bravo!

      • 8

        Sandra says

        Well, I’ve been meaning to write you this long, heartfelt email about how your posts have helped me so much in my journey. But taking too long to get to it on my to do list (not to mention thinking you would probably think me weird for gushing so) turned into a blessing.

        Six words. All I really needed to say.

        • 9

          says

          Thank you, Sandra. Now that’s twice in one day you’ve made me cry. :) I am so honored to know my messages have helped you. And being able to share here in this space and receive this kind of feedback has helped me immeasurably. It is moments like this that I feel so blessed to provide words that make a difference. My friend just sent me the link to this beautiful song, and I was listening to it when I saw your post. I feel compelled to share it with you because it pretty much sums it up:

          “These bruises make for more better conversation
          loses the vibe that separates
          it’s good to let you in again
          you’re not alone and how you’ve been
          everybody loses
          we all got bruises
          we all got bruises.”
          -Train (Bruises)

          • 10

            Sandra Lee says

            I love that you quoted Train. I listen to “California 37″ almost every day driving to work.
            Thank you for a well-written post that I can lovingly share.

      • 11

        JRG says

        Thank you so much for this poignant message. I admit to be ‘too wordy’ with my child, I have received the most beautiful bright smile coupled with alert sparkling eyes when I simply hug her and I tell her “I’m so proud of you” (also 6 words ;). I also cry often when I watch my daughter(s) because I am overcome by the emotion of being completly blessed by God’s mercy, for giving me two beautiful & healthy(key word) beings to take care of & nurture. There is no ‘how to’ or prescriptive guide on how to be a ‘perfect’ parent, and when I fail it hurts so much. I carry the guilt long beyond my child’s memory of my wrong doing. It’s messages like the ones you write that help guide us, and help get the ‘weight off’ For your work, your time, your beautiful messages. Thank you. :)

  2. 13

    says

    Ok, aside from making me cry at 6am….I love the idea of using those 6 words! As a trained dancer it is sometimes challenging for me not to offer ‘constructive feedback’ on my daughters technique, time and time again. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that my heart sings just by seeing the pure joy in her face as she dances….I’m going to let her know that tonight.

    • 14

      says

      Thank you, Kirri! Yes, it is that look of pure joy on our children’s faces when they are doing something they love that touches the soul deeply. Thank you for wasting no time in telling your daughter these powerful words tonight! Thank you for commenting!

    • 15

      Emma says

      I’ve cried too, and I’ve just read the text at 5 am!
      I really love it, it´s strong, pure and so real.
      It was a real pleasure to read it, thank you

    • 17

      says

      Thank you, Traci! Comments like yours will make it a little easier to hit “publish” the next time I wonder if a particular post is something someone else will want to read (besides my parents). :) Thank you for the encouragement!!!

  3. 18

    maureen says

    i just wanted to say thanks for your words. my daughters are all grown up but you make me remember that they still need to hear things like this. you make me think and i like that!

    • 19

      says

      Thank you, Maureen. It brings me great joy to know people with grown children and people with no children read my blog and find value in my messages. I really appreciate you taking time to tell me.

  4. 24

    Kim says

    “The pressure is off.” Aha moment. That really struck a chord with me. As a fellow blabber mouth, what starts as a compliment to my sons after their soccer games, usually winds up with me commenting on each and every time they touched the ball. I mean to say “I love to watch you play,” and will now say just that… and only that.

    • 25

      says

      Thank you for sharing this, Kim! I think so many of us can relate to what you have described here. I appreciate that you’re willing to consider a different approach. That is so inspiring to me! Please let me know how it goes!

    • 26

      Jenn says

      I had the same “A ha!” moment……….at the pressure is off. I put myself under intense pressure to achieve and know I have great expectations of my kids as well…….too great for their ages and performance levels. This article was a great reality chack for me, thank you!!!!!!

      Yes, please keep pushing that publishing button add me to the list of “I love to read your writing”.

  5. 28

    says

    I am a sobbing mama. My husband just came in from taking out the trash to find me crying reading my screen. At first he was worried, then he said “you’re reading the hands free mom thing aren’t you?”
    I love that you are willing to share your story with us.

    • 29

      says

      Oh Chrissy, you have made me laugh out loud with your husband’s comment! Thank you for sharing that with me. Somedays I struggle with sharing; somedays I am a little more hesitant to reveal my not-so-pretty stories, but from now on, I will remember your words and that will give me the boost I need. Thank you!!!!

  6. 30

    Amy Belanger says

    I am being convicted about my time spent on facebook. I am nearly ready to delete myself but your posts are one I would miss the most. I love to watch you write.

    • 31

      says

      Thank you, Amy. I can totally relate because Facebook is both a blessing and also a curse in my “Hands Free” life. My messages take flight on Facebook and reach the multitudes and for that I am grateful. I just try to remember to use it as a tool for communication rather than a time waster, taking away from what really matters in my life. I am so thankful to know you enjoy reading my posts and find value in them. I am so glad you are here.

  7. 32

    says

    I love this. You have made me cry again!

    Each time I read one of your posts I am inspired with something new to use on my journey of becoming a better mother and a better person.

    I love to read your posts.

    xx

    • 33

      says

      Thank you, Michelle. I am comforted greatly by your words. To know that my flaws and my struggles are not just mine … and to know that my sharing them helps others blesses my life beyond measure. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me. I am so glad you are part of this journey.

    • 35

      says

      Thank you, Krista! I love the simple phrases and they definitely stick with me throughout my daily routine. I am glad you think so, too. I am so happy you found my blog, too! And how sweet of you to take time to comment!

  8. 38

    diane says

    I love WHAT you write!
    each day I am trying to be a better mom & wife!
    I feel like I have wasted so much time….but, moving forward!
    Your words inspire me!
    Thank you

    • 39

      says

      Thank you for your honesty, Diane. And what I love about being “Hands Free” is that it is NOT about what happened yesterday; it is about today and the critical choices we make today. Here’s to moving forward and grasping the moments that matter! Please keep me posted. I see a beautiful future for you … starting NOW.

  9. 40

    Jana Taylor says

    I’m adding my “I love to watch you write” the the chorus. :-)
    I grew up with a mother that was by nature a critical person. It wasn’t something she set out to be, she just was. I never, EVER, doubted that I was loved & treasured but I admit that at times I never felt that I was “good enough” in anything I did because she always found something to tell me to make it “better”. It wasn’t until I was much older & my mother was in the last few years of her life that I learned more about her childhood that helped me understand her perspective & why she was the way she was. My husband, bless his heart, finally told her once when she asked why we hadn’t visited in a while that he had to spend days “putting me back together” after a visit. She was stunned…she had no idea how critical she always was of me. Everything she said she did from a place of love & wanting me to be “the best” but because I wasn’t the “best”, I never felt good enough. Thankfully in the last years of her life she worked hard at making sure I knew that I was more than enough, that she “loved to watch me play” & I’m so grateful for that change in her as it helped me see what I could be as a mother, that even though I could find things to tell my daughter to help her “be the best”…I needed to tell her that I loved to watch her play.
    Thank you for sharing your walk with us & even though my “baby” is 22, I’m still learning to be a hands free mama.

    • 41

      says

      Thank you, Jana! This is so insightful. I appreciate you sharing this. It is helpful for me, as a parent, to read (from an adult perspective) what it was like to grow up with a critical parent. I find it so interesting that your mom had no idea. I think that is the case with so many of our “good intentions” as parents. We think we are being helpful … we think we are doing what we are supposed to be doing … but in fact, we are causing long term damage in our criticism. I commend your mom for changing her ways once she found out how she was hurting you. This proves it is NEVER too late to change … it is never too late to start over. What peace that gave you! I know your experience will stick with me. I appreciate you taking the time to share this. I am so glad you are on this journey with me!

    • 42

      says

      May I reply to this comment, too? I think I know how you feel, Jana. My dad was always highly critical of me. He still is to an extent, but I don’t see him very often. It’s not only been a hindrance to me, but it’s how I learned to parent. Those things stick with you for decades.

    • 43

      S says

      Jana, I cannot express how much I believe your “Everything she said she did from a place of love & wanting me to be “the best” but because I wasn’t the “best”, I never felt good enough” comment just set me free. I just found this blog today (it’s WONDERFUL, Rachel!!), and have been sitting here, crying, in my office at work, unable to peel my eyes away (yes, I will get back on task tomorrow!).

      Your comment, Jana, just succinctly summed up for me the difficulty I have had my entire lifetime with my now 70-year-old mom (my husband regularly has to “put me back together” after weekly visits as well…I constantly leave her home emotionally exhausted and feeling like a failure). Unfortunately, it has also become my way with my beautiful, compassionate, slightly uncoordinated, “noticer” (to quote another blog post) 10-year old daughter as well. I am constantly trying to “help” her be the best she can be, and your phrasing not only helped me to see how damaging that may be, but also, how much it mirrors the constant feeling of “not good enough” I have been given by my own well-intentioned mom for the past 35 years.

      Thank you Jana for making your comment, and thank you Rachel for your amazing blog and for the community it brings. I am so thankful the Lord brought me here today…this post and several others have given me hope that I can change – both my inner voice I use to beat myself down after I leave my mom’s, and my audible voice I use to tell both my daughter and son how much I love to watch them ___________. Thank you.

  10. 44

    Camille says

    Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! I’m glad I was able to read this before my son is old enough to remember the times I may have criticized him. I am a natural at criticism and need to learn to keep my words simple and loving. Thanks for this! A great lesson for us all!

    • 45

      says

      Thank you, Camille! I commend you for being able to see in yourself what you need to work on … it took me a long time to realize (and admit) where I need to change. This brings me great hope and inspiration to read your words tonight.

  11. 46

    says

    Wonderful words for adults involved in the lives of children! When we bring home a newborn we take the time to watch them sleep and breathe. How much more important is it to verbalize to them, around them the wonder they bring to our lives each and every day.

  12. 48

    Stacey says

    That was beautiful. I cried so much because I haven’t been saying this and this is what I have meant every time I say something else to my husband or daughter and with this little change I see great healing for my family. Thank you thank thank you!!! I will be using these six words from now on!!!

    • 49

      says

      Thank you, Stacey. I am so touched by your words. Looking back and realizing we may have missed an opportunity is painful, but there is hope in the fact you can see it now … and you have vowed to make a change. There is a lifetime of beautiful exchanges ahead for you and the people you love. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  13. 54

    E says

    I don’t have kids, but your post (especially the “I loves” to your husband) reminded me in an important way of the joy God has when he watches us (me) play. So important (and so not how I typically think). Thanks.

    • 55

      says

      Thank you, E. What a beautiful insight you have offered here. I can relate so well in your words: “and so not how I typically think.” It is difficult for me to allow myself to “play” or even rest. But in those times, I am closer to God and can hear the messages He places on my heart. In that time of play and rest, I am restored. Thank you for taking time to leave this thoughtful comment.

  14. 56

    says

    I had to go through and read it all over again along with all the comments. I love that you shared the Bruises song lyrics. And I also love to watch you write!

    • 59

      says

      Thank you, Beatrix. I just read your post and it is SO lovely! You have captured the essence of what it means to cherish that time with our babies because it does go by so quickly. We must be mindful not to wish ourselves to the next stage (which I am guilty of doing too often) but instead savor where we are right now.

      • 60

        says

        Thanks Rachel, I agree – I don’t think we should rush our kids, but I’m also guilty of it sometimes! Look forward to reading more of your blog :D

  15. 61

    says

    Our girls just started swim lessons back up and I made a promise to myself I would not pull out my phone and do any of the millions of things you can do on a smartphone (not even a quick sec – it’s ridiculous how tempting it is. It’s my time to sit, be still, and pay attention to my girls. More and more I see parents so completely disengaged, it’s heart-breaking. As we were talking afterward I said, “You know, I love this time because I love watching you girls swim.” Ahhhh! :-) And the instant smiles on both of their faces are STILL in my mind. These are moments you can never get back.

    • 62

      says

      Thank you, Anneke! This is why I love sharing my journey to be Hands Free in an open forum like this! You inspire me! My writer’s brain often takes over when my youngest in having her swim lesson. I start making notes get lost in my thoughts. I thank you for reminding me to watch those kicks and smiles as they master new skills. I will be watching intently at the next lesson! Thank you so much for taking time to share your inspiring thoughts!!!

  16. 63

    Kim Burrell says

    Thank you so much for those words! In a matter of minutes you have change my life. How those six little words will change a life of a person. From this day forward, I will say those six words to my son/love one at least once a day. WOW! Amazing because I really do just love to watch him!

    • 64

      says

      Thank you, Kim. I am so grateful to know those 6 words have made such a difference to you, as they have to me. I love that you are striving to say it once a day. It seems the more I have been saying it, the more comfortable I have become. I was so used to giving so many “supporting details” that this short sentence of praise feels “new” to me. But the reactions of my family are so positive … it just makes me want to continue. Thanks for taking time to share!

  17. 65

    says

    I, too, read that same article and forwarded it to every parent I know, taking a little grief for it in the aftermath; it seemed to have struck a nerve. Maybe next time I will just share this blog post and hope your eloquent writing will soften the blow of reality. Great find and I look forward to following you more.

    • 66

      says

      Thank you, Dawn. I have had several coaches and parents say that they have shared my article. When I share my thoughts, I strive to avoid sounding judgmental or negative in my messages … I think most parents mean well in their intentions to guide and instruct their children. The purpose of my message was to bring a new awareness that they may have not considered. Many people have responded that they didn’t think about how their excessive instruction may be coming off to their child, and that they would change their language immediately. I am thankful that the message has been received so positively and that it is making a difference in the way people are communicating with their loved ones. I really appreciate you taking time to share your comment, and thank you so much for being here!

  18. 67

    Shelby Emrich says

    Thank you for the tears! :-) My oldest is only 4 so we’re just starting out with the extracurricular’s, but just the other day he went to story time at the Library all by himself (kids only) and I teared up..amazed he transitioned so gracefully (and didn’t need his mama). He will also be starting soccer soon, and this is such a great article to start that venture with! I will keep it clean and simple, I love to watch you “…….”! THANK YOU!

    • 68

      says

      Thank you, Shelby! It inspires me to read your story … that you made note of that momentous moment in your child’s life. So many of those moments are missed. What a lucky boy he is! I appreciate you taking time to share and leave an encouraging word for me!

  19. 69

    Cheryl says

    Being a very wordy person, I totally relate to the difficulty in expressing my thoughts “in so few words.” I appreciate you introducing me to a new phrase to add to my conversations.
    So, so good!

    • 70

      says

      You are so welcome, Cheryl! It nice to know I am not alone in my “wordiness”! Although it CAN be a blessing at times! So happy you will be using the 6 words. I hope it makes a difference in your life as it has for me!

  20. 73

    says

    Thank you for your beautiful reminder to appreciate our families (out loud) for the gifts that they are. Working with hypnotic suggestions, we know that every word we speak is powerful, so I have shared your lovely words with all the families on our Hypnobabies Official Facebook page.

    Thank you so very much for this post!

    Carole Thorpe, Hypnobabies VP

    • 74

      says

      Thank you so much, Carole. I am intrigued by your area of expertise! I will be sure to check out your Facebook page and find out more. I really appreciate you sharing it. Thank you for being here!

  21. 77

    Kat says

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today, both to help me move forward in my development as a parent and a partner, but to help normalize the fact that I embarrassingly tear up every.single.time any of my children perform. I am trying to be more mindful and present and I am realizing over and over that it’s really about expressing how I’m feeling in the moment.

    My daughter, too, plays the uke and sings. The line that gets me is from “The Show” by Lenka. “I’m just a little girl, lost in the moment. I’m so scared, but I don’t show it.” It rocks me to my core, “Oprah ugly-cry”- style every time. How wonderful to know I am not alone. Thank you for this post.

    • 81

      says

      Hi Susan, thank you for taking the time to comment and share your link! I look forward to reading your post. Sounds like something I would love. Thank you also for subscribing to my blog! So happy to have you along on this journey to grasp what really matters!

    • 82

      Jeana says

      Rachel & Susan, thank you both for your articles. For different reasons, I have consciously chosen not to say, “I am ‘proud’ of you” to my children. But I have also realized my deficiency as far as praise and encouragement and the gaping hole that has left in my children’s hearts… I have even gone as far as to tell them, “If I were to use the word proud, this would be one of those times…”. LAME. The best I have been able to come up with to this point (almost 30 years of parenting) is to say that I am so “pleased.”
      THANK YOU for these “six words” and for fellowship in avoiding the phrase “I am proud of you.” “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” <

  22. 83

    says

    I love to read your blog.

    Great post. I think there are so many parents who so clearly need this message. I’m glad it’s getting out there .. it’s a serious topic.

    • 84

      says

      Thank you, Shawn! I agree; it is a serious topic. I am over the moon by the response–over 40,000 online views in two days. It appears that many parents have been yearning for a way to express their love after a game or performance … they just didn’t know what to say. Thank you for leaving a comment!

  23. 85

    Natalie says

    I have always struggled with words to use in place of praise, as I believe that saying ‘Good Job!’ all the time is a judgement, and creates an atmosphere wherein you children rely on and look for your approval to know if they have done well. These words are a perfect way to show how proud you are while allowing them pride in their OWN accomplishments, without judgement…. Not ‘You swam well today!’ but ‘I love to watch you swim.’… Perfect!

    • 86

      says

      You bring up some really great points, Natalie! As a child, and even as an adult, my motivation too often is to hear the words, “Good job” and I really wish it wasn’t that way. I would love to do what I can to prevent my children from seeking that external praise. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  24. 87

    Spirit @ From tantrums to treasure hunts says

    This is such a touching and amazing post. Made me bawl my eyes out. What an inspiration what a remarkable thing to share so that other to can share the love and joy.

    Thank you for helping me be a better more mindful mother <3 keep writing, I love to read your words

    • 88

      says

      Thank you for the beautiful and encouraging words! Some of my posts are harder to share than others, but I definitely felt this one needed to be shared with as many people as possible. I am thrilled by the response! Thank you for taking time to comment!

    • 90

      says

      Thank you, Emily! It makes me so happy to know when one of my posts not only touches someone’s heart, but also makes a person take ACTION. That thrills me beyond words. Thank you for taking time to let me know!

  25. 91

    LESLIE TROY says

    As a mother of 2 autistic sons (PDD and Aspergers- age 14) It is all I can do to get through the day and keep the peace. By the days end I am usually grateful that they made it through and seem generally happy. I
    have told them that I am proud of them, that they have done a good job and that I love them. But I don’t think I have shared my feeling quite like you have suggested. I am looking forward to trying. It may not make a difference with them, but it is sure to make me a little weepy! (I cry at coffee commercials)

    • 92

      says

      Thank you for sharing your story, Leslie. I am so glad that I have brought you a new awareness and that you are so eager to try this suggestion. As a behavioral specialist and teacher, I had many students with autism. I just loved discovering new ways to encourage them and connect with them. Please keep me posted! I would love to know how things go. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

    • 93

      Jeana says

      Leslie, my eleven-year-old son, Noah, is autistic. I could relate immediately with your comments. A few moments ago, Noah said the word “spoon” the best I have ever heard him say it. Instead of “Good job” or “Good talking,” I used the “six words” for the first time! I said, “Noah, I love it when you use your words!” I don’t even think he heard me, but it felt really good to begin a new way of encouraging (putting courage in) my children.
      <

    • 96

      says

      Hi Susie, thank you for your honesty! Sometime it is difficult for me to evaluate my actions and realize they could be more harmful than helpful … however, that is always the starting point for change. I wish you luck in your efforts! Thank you for being here!

  26. 97

    says

    You are So amazing!! Hit the nail right on the head!! My daughter was recently diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and this “new perspective” is so completely perfect!!

    On a side-note, I have a business in which we help people create wonderful treasures to help others (family, friends, etc) know they are loved and I was just thinking while reading just how powerful it would be to use photos of your girls and/or hubby and write them a simple story and put it into hardbound book form…so they can read and re-read and get those warm fuzzies everytime knowing they are loved!! I’d be so happy to share more! With you or anyone else who might be interested! Contact me!! And thanks again for making a difference!!

    • 98

      says

      Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, Haylee. I really appreciate your feedback. I am thrilled this post has given you a new perspective from which you can lovingly connect with your daughter. Let me know how it goes!

      Thank you for telling me about your business. The hard bound book sounds lovely. I look forward to going to your website to check it out.

  27. 100

    Toddp says

    Thats a nice nut overly simplistic approach. While I agree, all kids want to hear ‘nice job’ after a performance it is not always the best thing to say. We live in an age of kids getting participation trophies (for just showing up)! And such verbal mush contributes to that. After a recent game my daughter had where she performed poorly, and stopped trying, she did maybe 1 out of 10 things correctly. She knows better, she has done better, but basically quit on it. I was incensed, and hated watching the event. So afterwards, I told her her the errs in her ways and found the 1 thing she did right to complement her. But really, no judgement just love would be doing your child a disservice as a parent. Without honesty, there is no learning, no real growth in the child.

    • 101

      says

      While I respect your right to a differing opinion, Todd, I feel that you missed the point of my article. Never once did I endorse saying the phrase “nice job” to a child, nor did the article that I cited. The phrase I endorsed was “I like to watch you play.” That is entirely different than providing a subjective phrase such as “nice job.” Which brings me to the point of my message: When I watch my children, I become emotional simply because I love them and love watching them perform. Yet, I had never told them that, which I believe is a wasted opportunity to express something very important.

      I have 10 years experience as a teacher and behavioral specialist for children. Many of my students worked below their potential, yet, never once did once use shame as a way to motivate my students to do better. Yes, I would hold them accountable and yes, I would guide and instruct when they needed to improve, but I didn’t use shame as a motivator for improving behavior. Many studies show it is not effective and actual causes behavior to worsen. I do not believe in using shame to improve my children’s performances either. There is a time and a place to talk about how they could improve, but it is not right after the game, which is what the article I cited mentioned was the request from hundreds of collegiate athletes who were interviewed. Interestingly, many adults of critical parents have written to me over the past two days about this article. Even to this day, they are still scarred by their parents’ constant assessment of their performances and the fact they never could please their parents.

      Your opinion of this article is among the minority.This post has had over 40,000 online views in two days and there has only been one negative comment. The hundreds of other comments posted here and sent to me personally have been overwhelmingly positive. People are not wasting time in telling their children, “I love to watch you play.” And the responses of their children confirm that this statement is not only empowering, but it is life-changing. Maybe you ought to give it a try and see what happens. You might just see your child’s face light up like I did.

      • 102

        says

        Well put, Rachel. I’ve read your blog only a handful of times, and don’t actually have children of my own. However, I know this feeling, and can imagine my mom responding to this post in the same way that Todd did. Unfortunately, not everyone is open to realizing that they need this type of insight and change in their approach…yet they are the ones who could most benefit from it…

        • 103

          says

          Thank you for your insight, Brandy. I find it highly beneficial to hear from people with different past experiences and life situations than mine. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint so beautifully.

  28. 104

    says

    YES! Thanks for stating this so perfectly and movingly. I love to watch my two girls play. I will tell them more. Thank you!

  29. 106

    says

    From one parenting blogger* to another, wow. Thank you for eloquently stating my favorite parenting tip: catch them doing something good and let them know. As the parent of a young man almost 20, I still love to watch him do his favorite things. And advice is stored until he asks for it.

    *I’m more of a parent advocate, not a parenting expert

    • 107

      says

      Thank you, Helene! This is so inspiring to know you still love watching your son at age 20. I would bet you two have a close relationship where he shares things with you. I look forward to checking out your blog! Thank you for commenting.

  30. 108

    says

    I remember many parents in the stands during competitions say “I love to watch your daughter on beam”. Sadly, I don’t recall ever saying the same (about my own kid). I wish I could have had some of the outlets that are available today (Facebook, blogs, etc…) I too tend to be wordy (and loud) in my comments and reactions to my daughters performances both in dance and gymnastics. They survived the sometimes embarrassing over-enthusiastic outbursts from me (we laugh when we hear me on old videos). I want to say “I love to watch you be you.” to my grandchildren some day.

    • 109

      says

      It’s not too late, Wendy! I just had someone tell me that before her mother died, she was able to tell her daughter all the things she loved that she had never said before. Her mom always thought that she was showing her love by constantly telling how she could improve. But once she knew it was hurting her (even though her daughter was grown), she spoke the words her daughter longed to hear. Their relationship improved greatly from that point on. Maybe today is the day you tell your daughter how much you loved watching her on the beam and how much you love watching her be who she is today. Please keep me posted. I see a beautiful future ahead for you. Thank you so much for sharing.

  31. 110

    kalli says

    ohh my gosh this was such an amazing read! i am so blessed by you and your writing! the part that got me most was about telling your husband these things. he may think i am crazy but i am gonna do this soon!!!

  32. 112

    Greta says

    Hello,
    I read this original article a few weeks ago and discussed it at length with my husband who is a coach. I really LOVE your writing on how this applies to our children – I appreciate “seeing” it in action, and the reminder to keep it simple in areas other than sports as well. Your family is fortunate to have your love!

    • 113

      says

      Thank you so much, Greta! I am so glad that I could take that insightful article and go a little further with it–apply it to real life. It has really resonated with people, which thrills me beyond words. I have been touched by all the coaches who have expressed appreciation and interest in my message. It brings me so much hope for our children. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.

  33. 114

    says

    Rachel – you mention a kleenex ending? feh… more like I was already three tissues in and then you hit me with your husband needing to hear those six precious words?

    I read your blog entry, from start to finish, that first time, to my husband. I felt as if it could have been me – as if this stranger I’d never met, occupied my own wordy thoughts. I had just, and I mean just, left my email, where I had written a novella to someone. And will now send her an email with a subject line, READ ME FIRST. I will share the six little words, and a link to your page.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have not only enriched my life, but the lives of those whom I hold most dear. Can a stranger be a friend? I do believe we can.

    Rachel, I love to read your words.

    Here are six more:
    Never stop writing. Just. Don’t. Stop.

    • 115

      says

      Hi Nancy, thank you so much for your honesty and realness. I love that this post touched your life so deeply and that it has ignited a change within you. That is truly a gift to me. Yes, I do believe a stranger CAN be a friend. It is in the sharing of our imperfections and struggles that a bond is created. I adore your authenticity; it is beautiful to me. Thank you, friend.

      • 116

        says

        Well, as we are friends, let me just say, this is a most unique start and one for the books. I mean, I’ve met friends, through friends, at school, work, garden… and yes, networking online – but never this way that feels so genuine. sending you love

        • 117

          says

          Thank you, Nancy. I remember when I first stepped into what I call “the light of realness” on this Hands Free journey and revealed my scars and imperfections to a friend. She didn’t judge, she didn’t act like she had no idea what I was talking about–instead, she stepped into the light with me and said, “I know. I feel that way, too.” That is when I realized what makes an authentic friendship. It is when you can be yourself, scars and all. In fact, I have come to learn that when we see each other’s faults, we can love each other even more. That is what I love about this community. The people, like you, who read my posts and say, “Yes! I know how you feel! I am right there with you.” So that has become my new definition of friendship–that loving connection that occurs when two people can be real with one another and from that beautiful place, they can grow. I cherish every friend who comes to this space and shares who they truly are … some would say that scars are not beautiful, but I would disagree. I am SO grateful you are here, Nancy!!!

  34. 118

    Cyndee A. says

    I just wish I had this type of thinking fed to me 25 years ago when I was raising my children! Blessings to you!

  35. 120

    Leanna Lawrence says

    such profound words – you have given me so much to mull over. I am not one to read many blogs, but my friend on FB linked to this post, and I was drawn in to reading it. I will be forever grateful that I did, and I imagine that my interactions with my children and my spouse will never be the same (and that is a very good thing). I am typing this with tears streaming down my face – because you, in your beautiful writing, have given me such an amazing gift. So for that, I am writing this comment to say, thank you.

    • 121

      says

      Wow, Leanna. You have touched my soul with your heartfelt words. I am grateful to your friend for sharing my post which brought you here. What a gift to know that my message has inspired you to think about the way you communicate with your family and that you plan to do things a bit differently. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you letting me know how you feel. THANK YOU!

  36. 122

    Ellen says

    I’m seventeen and I wish my parents could be more like you—your girls (and the rest of the world) are so incredibly lucky to have you.

    • 123

      says

      Dear Ellen, thank you so much for your kind words. You have confirmed to me that love and acceptance, without judegment and criticism, is the best way for parents to show love to their kids. I received a comment from a father who indicated that he felt my message was “verbal mush.” He went on to say that he felt it would be a disservice to his daughter if he did not tell her the error of her ways. I only wish he could read your words before his daughter is 17 and feels like you do.

      Ellen, you sounds like a very kind and compassionate young lady. I wish you peace in your heart and healing in your soul, dear one.

  37. 126

    Lynn says

    Magical ! simply magic. From this day on it will be a part of my expression to my kids and grandkids. I am a first time reader who hit the jackpot! May I also commend you for acknowledging your readers–all of them. What a blessing.

    • 127

      says

      Thank you, Lynn. I love your enthusiasm and willingness to jump in there and say those 6 words! Your children and grandkids are very lucky! Thank you for your sweet comments. I ADORE the wonderful people who read my blog and those who take time to comment such encouraging words! The least I can do is write a little note back! Thank you for being here!

  38. 132

    Julia Albicocco says

    thank you for this article. i taught for several years at a school for children with learning disabilities and i tend to be wordy myself. when first working there i was going on in detail to a student about something and they were looking at me as tho they were confused. later the veteran teacher who taught me so much pulled me aside and said too many words, keep it simple. say exactly what you mean in as few words as possible. hard to do but very effective. thanks :)

  39. 133

    Marcia Ratliff says

    I thoroughly enjoyed this!! It is nice to see this because I have often always said these things when I feel them. I believe in being encouraging and letting others know when you appreciate them, love them, love something about them or the things they do. It’s the simple things in life that truly make me happy. And, I hope to spread that same kind of joy to others.

    This world is too caught up with “keep up with the Jone’s” and into material possessions. So, I could never be as eloquent as your writing is, but loved that you wrote this. It brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you!

  40. 137

    says

    Thank you SO much for putting into beautiful words something I’ve been trying to live and parent by without quite knowing how or why. I love it when you find something wise and wonderful and realize “yes, this is what I’ve been striving for!” – it’s just nice to have that affirmation and helps you cement yourself a little more firmly on the right path.
    I’ve shared this blog post many times with others and will continue to do so – bravo and thank you!

    • 138

      says

      Thank you, Lara! I agree! Parenting can be so tricky, and I tend to second guess myself. But when I read about the positive result of something I have been doing all along, that is so uplifting and empowering. Your family is very lucky to have such an insightful and loving mother. Thank you for taking the time to comment! You made my day!

  41. 139

    Chris Reynolds says

    Thank you for showing me the words I’ve meant to say for years. As a grandmother of four competitive young boys, I will now know what to say to reinforce how much I love their effort, and not merely the result. I hope I was as encouraging with my own competitive children, but fear I was not. Thank you!

    • 141

      says

      Thank you, Julia! I adore Glennon’s work. What an honor to have you stop over. Thank you for the beautiful post you provided. That was incredibly insightful and thought-provoking. Her suggestions and examples of praise were so enlightening. I am so glad you embrace the 6 word phrase … I celebrate your last line especially: “Love wins!” It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts!

  42. 142

    Kinnison says

    Oh my…tears are flowing…I WILL REMEMBER the power of these words following my son’s t-ball game this Saturday…so much more valuable than, “You’re great at the plate, but you’re not going to make All-Stars with the kind of fielding I saw today…” Ouch. I thank you. My son thanks you.

    • 143

      says

      Thank you, Kinnison! Nothing makes me more delighted than to know the 6 word phrase is being put into practice! I can already see your son’s beaming face to those powerful words! Thank you for taking the time to tell me the impact it had on you. It means so much!

  43. 146

    Mike DeNeef says

    First time on your blog – won’t be my last. Thank-you for clarifying what my wife and I have been struggling with for some time. I am a coach/athletic director and so often cannot help myself when it comes to feedback instruction. Your post made me remember my youth and how happy it made me when my grandpa used to come and watch me play – and said something very similar. I will work to be less ‘helpful’ (that’s what their coaches are for) and more ‘unconditional loving’ because if I want them to learn one thing from me – it is not how to get back on defense; it’s that they are ALWAYS loved.

    • 147

      says

      Hi Mike, thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts and your insight. It is refreshing to hear from a coach/athletic director who sees the value in this message. I especially like what you say here: “I will work to be less ‘helpful’ (that’s what their coaches are for) and more ‘unconditional loving’.” I am striving for the same, although it doesn’t also come easy. However, I know that approach will be the best for my child in both the short term and long term. As you pointed out about your grandpa watching you play, I think of the way my parents watch my children perform … no words, just pure delight on their faces. What child wouldn’t cherish that from his/her parents? I thank you for visiting my site and taking the time to comment!

  44. 148

    says

    Hi Rachel,

    Your blog came across my path today and while I don’t have my own children, I thoroughly enjoyed this post since it applies to well, so many people in my life. One of my roles is as a dog trainer, I’m always trying to lower people’s unrealistic expectations for their dogs and teach them how to simply enjoy their dogs (they’re not around too long!) … I think I’m going to share this blog post with an “insert dog for child” suggestion. :):)

    Thank you for a beautiful read.

    • 149

      says

      How wonderful, Michelle! I believe in compassion and kindness to all living things so why wouldn’t this message apply to dogs, as well? I really appreciate your comment about simply ENJOYING their pets presence, just as you should simply enjoy a loved one’s presence.

      Thank you for sharing your unique perspective and insight!

  45. 150

    says

    I love to see my children do almost anything, because I love to see them alive. I love when they live their lives, specially when they do things they like.

    • 151

      says

      Oh Mariel, your comment gives me chills: “I love to see my children do almost anything because I love to see them alive.” How often do I take that miraculous gift for granted? Too often, I’m afraid. I will remember your words. Thank you for taking time to share.

  46. 152

    says

    Oh thank you for that wonderful article (and for your two “case studies”). I am too very wordy and I recently thought of if my comments can be understood as some kind of pressure although I am so happy and proud of my girl. And so your article fits in perfect.

    • 153

      says

      Thank you, Nora. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to consider how you can improve on your feedback with your child. Please come back and let me know the results of your new, shortened phrase of loving communication! I appreciate you taking time to leave a comment!

  47. 154

    Bernie says

    Your words have struck a chord in my heart & brought tears to my eyes.
    I am such a wordy mum, always striving to better my son’s work or performances. All he needs is for me to edify him with these 6 simple words.
    Just as important, if not more, my husband sure needs to hear these words too.
    Thank you so much.

  48. 155

    says

    Rachel, I’ve been so disconnected lately; from blogging, from friends, even from my kids and spouse. This really hit home for me. I find myself wishing it were so easy to say those six words to my kids, resenting myself over the fact that it should be so easy and that I’m the one making it difficult.

    Lately I’ve allowed myself to be personally affected by the near-constant tension between my son and step-son due to the tension it’s caused in my relationship with Karin. But in so doing, I’ve also distanced myself from the good moments. I haven’t been feeling those moments you describe where you feel your heart may burst. I used to. I need to reclaim that right as a parent, for myself and my kids.

    Inspiring post, as usual. You may not see me comment very often, but yours is one of my favorite blogs. You’ve helped bridge a connection between my heart and mind today. Thanks for that.

    • 156

      says

      Hi Chris,

      I must say how much I value and appreciate your honesty and openness. It is not easy to admit when we have been disconnected, but from that difficult place of awareness, I truly believe connection can be restored. You have a deep insight in seeing that the tension with your son and step-son has caused you to distance yourself from the good moments. That is profound. And I am certain you can get back to that place of emotional joy in the moments because I know the loving and devoted father you are. I am touched by your words that I have helped bridge a connection between your heart and mind today. I thank you for that. Somedays sharing my life here is difficult … but words like your make it worth it. Thank you so much.

    • 157

      says

      Hi Chris,

      I must say how much I value and appreciate your honesty and openness. It is not easy to admit when we have been disconnected, but from that difficult place of awareness, I truly believe connection can be restored. You have a deep insight in seeing that the tension with your son and step-son has caused you to distance yourself from the good moments. That is profound. And I am certain you can get back to that place of emotional joy in the moments because I know the loving and devoted father you are. I am touched by your words that I have helped bridge a connection between your heart and mind today. I thank you for that. Somedays sharing my life here is difficult … but words like your make it worth it. Thank you so much.

      Hoping that today is a starting point of renewed connection and emotional joy in the moments, my friend.

      • 158

        says

        For me, this is what blogging is all about. This post was exactly the spark I was hoping for when I clicked on the link. I’ve been longing to get back to my blog and reconnect with my kids, and this is the perfect catalyst. I’ll report back later. :)

          • 161

            says

            Oh wow. Chris, I am again blown away. There is so much courage in your story. I can’t be certain, but I feel strongly that your message is going to help someone else greatly. When we see one another’s scars, imperfections, struggles, and dark times, we come to love each other more. We also find a little bit of hope to anchor us. I applaud you for sharing your struggles. I applaud you for writing after one month away. It is beautiful to watch someone rise up despite falling down. I envision you now with a light shining on your face … and it is a glimpse of what is to come. Celebrating your achievement today. Thank you for letting us see what hope looks like and feels like. It is not always pretty, but it is real and it is empowering.

  49. 166

    Kellie says

    Bless you Rachel for your passion & for sharing it so beautifully w/those of us who so need to hear and read your insightful inspiration… Reading this particular post, I believe was God led as I am struggling daily… moment by moment to cling to… No, rather regain any meaningful purpose or joy in my life… for myself, and my family…. My husband of 20+ years & four boys 18, 16, 13, & 9…. In an effort to heal regret and pain, I have detached from those who matter most, and replaced them w/technology… social networking… shopping….any distraction that is all too close at hand to help me escape.

    Your words touch so very close to my heart. All four of our boys were blessed (as most are)with lots of energy, a need to be active, & a passion for sports… and oh how “we loved to watch them play”… they were (are) like poetry in motion. As you write, any joy from watching them play was not because of “the making of a future star” but rather because of the self-discovery we had the pleasure of witnessing within them. The courage they found, the character they built, the respect they gained for themselves and for & from those around them.

    Having once experienced that, makes no longer having it so difficult to overcome. Life has taken its turns, some good… however, it is the not so good I fail to accept and rather remain focused on what “was” vs “is”…. A type of comparison really…. one that robs me of any joy. Despite my efforts it is hard to ignore the regression in the boys… I see their confidence faulter, their expression dwindle, their character questioned by those lacking, and their confidence disappear…. by will or by force. I carry a great deal of guilt as I often blame myself for being joyless because of “my need” for them to thrive….
    Your post brings me comfort, not without a steady stream of tears … as I realize, while it may be a need of mine, it is one I have for them… to once again be uninhibited, less guarded, and afraid to make mistakes so that they may once again feel that freedom brought by being satisfied in themselves & content within their own skin… I do believe these six little words will be a step in the right direction. I will begin to use them and seek those not- to-be missed moments! Hopefully inspiring my family to do the same… Thank you so much…

  50. 167

    Wendy Bradford says

    So beautiful. Thank you for making me cry and for the great relationship advice. It’s so simple and we all need to be reminded what to do. More often, we hear- what not to do. This is the thing I admire from great teachers. Please keep writing.

  51. 168

    Gina Boulanger says

    I love to watch my daughters play and perform. As a teacher, I love to watch them sing. I’m not much of a crier, but I’m glad I’m not the only one blubbering secretively on the sidelines and audience. But I need to tell them how much I like it, though.

  52. 169

    Kasia says

    tearing, but teses are tears of happiness and relieve. i found your webside and FB page yesterday and this is what i am in need of. huge eye openner for what i thank you today. being busy mom, wife, nurse, student, daughter etc. i have forgotten of simple thing such as to be hands free mom. since reading your notes last night, i spend great quality time with my children today by simply sitting at the kitchen table and talk talk talk and then took them for a walk and was actually showing them world around us… so thank you again and looking forward to more …
    p.s. my eldest daughter is a swimmer and my middle one is a gymnast so tomorrow is a lesson learn from you “I love to watch you swim/practice!” and will try very hard to stop there…

  53. 170

    says

    What an inspiring post. I too sometimes find myself coaching and encouraging instead of just saying those simple words ” I love to…..”. Thank you for bringing such clarity to this, and I hope to be more mindful.

  54. 171

    says

    I love this. So simple and so true! Thank you for this. I will carry this with me as I journey through motherhood with my two daughters.

  55. 173

    Maribel Reyes says

    So true! you brought tears to my eyes, because i really do love and enjoy watching them play, swim, run, thrive! It is also very encouraging! and often times we forget to notice the positive, the good! the success even if it is in tiny steps it is success! thank you for reminding us of these 6 words very important words if I may add. :)

  56. 174

    says

    Is there a problem with the CSS here? I can’t read anything here without highlighting it with the mouse, because it’s all purple. I’m using Google Chrome if it makes a difference.

  57. 175

    Carrie in FL says

    I’m just discovering your blog in the last two days, and I have a lot of catching up to do, but this one brought me to tears. So many times, so many moments I too well up when I am watching my kids, or husband or friends do something, and yet I let the moment pass without the simple six words. I can be that parent/wife that says too much, not meaning to take away from the moment. Fewer words is wise!! Thank you again for the reminder!

  58. 177

    Ayesha says

    I totally empathise with your feelings. And believe it or not these are the exact words I said to my son who plays soccer…”I love to watch you play”.
    Thanks for putting into words what I have felt for so long.

  59. 178

    says

    you have caught it right on… we all want somebody to notice us

    Those six words prove that we are aware of something special in someone’s life … that we have noticed them and that we ‘love’ something about them. That is the love thread that binds us together in Christ

  60. 180

    says

    A friend shared this post with me today and I love it! Why is it so easy to say so much more and so hard to stop at I love to see you x? But I’m going to try this…and I’m going to follow your lovely blog now!

  61. 182

    Krystie says

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful bit of advice. life has been so hard lately, thank you for putting the important things in to perspective for me on such a fragile day. my tears of sadness turned to joy. again, i can’t thank you enough.

  62. 184

    Jan C. says

    I am struck speechless by the simplicity of this idea. Is this the reason my “helpful” analytical comments after my kids’ performances never seem to strike the right note with them? My goal has always been to be supportive, to show that I was paying attention, to put into words what I thought they might have in their own minds about their performance and then let them know they did well (or that they were just having one bad day, depending). I always felt something about my method wasn’t hitting the right chord, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to do things differently. Is it too late for me, do you think? My kids are 26, 25, 19, 17, and 14. This blog post is, as Oprah might say, a “lightbulb moment” for me. Could it be as simple as just saying, “I love watching you play the clarinet?” I’m not even sure I could say that without bawling like an idiot, because I am that parent, too–the one who is sitting in the audience filled with emotion that I feel too foolish to express. I don’t know how I found my way to your blog today, but I’m really glad I did!

    • 185

      says

      Jan, this makes me smile! I can relate to everything you say! And no, it is NOT too late. And although it might seem awkward at first to say that short, simple line, just watch your child’s face light up. I have found it gets easier/more comfortable to say and my children continue to light up like it is the first time they heard it. It is life-changing, really. I am SO glad you found your way here, too! Keep me posted!

  63. 186

    Gabriella says

    Children are teachers, yes, but so are you. Thank you so very much for this incredibly valuable lesson. I had a good cry this morning thanks to your lovely post. I’m off to tell my children how much I love to watch them, well, do everything. :) Thanks for reminding me what children really, really want to hear from us.

  64. 187

    says

    i can’t find ali edwards’ link to you/original post, but found you, so wanted to say, that after watching and umpiring my daughters’ 2 netball games this morning – after their games, i simply said ‘i love to watch u play’. thank you

  65. 189

    says

    Like everyone else, I teared up at this blog. This was so inspiring, so heartfelt, and so what I wish had been said to me more often as a child. I fully believe in the power of these 6 little words. I found this blog on an old freinds fb, saw the word mama and had to read it, and I have to say, it’s nothing that I thought it would be. It was so much better. I read the whole blog, every comment made, and all the shared blogs. Except for mr toddp, who I myself would NOT want for a father, you touched and changed the lives of everyone. As I commented on my old friends fb, I’m going to be saying this to my 10 month old. He may not fully understand what it means. But he does understand the word love. He’ll grow up hearing this from mama a lot. Thank you. You saved my child a lot of unmeant heartache. I need to read more of your blogs. I won’t forget this.

  66. 190

    says

    When my son went through his teenage years and had his ups and downs, he’d ask if he disappointed me. My answer would be that growing up was learning from your mistakes and that “I love watching you grow up.”

    I think it made all the difference in the world – much better than a lecture.

    • 191

      says

      That is one of the most beautiful things I think I have ever heard a parent say. Thank you, Robert. I will remember your words. You have given me a gift by sharing your insight. Your son is very blessed.

  67. 193

    Danielle says

    What a beautiful article. I love watching my children do so many things but I rarely tell them that. Now I will. Thank you!

  68. 194

    SMartInCincy says

    Rachel- Thank you for making time for this blog, for your readers, for the lives and hearts that your words touch. We are all luckier and more blessed for your generosity with your time. I’m trying to live the words every day with my children. And trying desperately to pry the cell phone out of my husband’s hand. Our daughter is 16 months old and is doing so many things for the first time. And I don’t want him to miss a moment. I don’t want him to wish to have time back that he HAS now. Any suggestions on how to get him on board?

    Again, thank you. Although your blogs generally make me tear up (I don’t try to hide it), I appreciate every one.

    Thank you.

    • 195

      says

      You are so kind! Thank you for taking time to tell me the impact of my messages on your life. It truly means the world to me. Thank you also for the commitment you have made to your daughter. I commend you for realizing the importance of connecting with her now and also encouraging your husband to do so, as well. That is truly a gift to both of them.

      I would share with your husband the impact that letting go of distraction has had on your life. I would be open and honest, making sure he knows this comes from a place of love for him and for your daughter. Be clear that you are not asking him to give up technology or neglect his work responsibilities–even short time periods being fully present with loved ones can make a difference. If he could just limit his use of technology when he is in the presence of your daughter, it could really make an impact on her life and on his, as well. That would be a starting point. From my experience (and from my readers), once you begin to scale back on your distraction, your eyes are opened. You then see what you have been missing (the best parts of life) and you are then reinforced to continue this letting go of distraction practice.

      I also share three posts I wrote that have resonated many of my male readers.

      Dear Distracted Dad: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2010/12/13/dear-distracted-dad/

      Thanks to the Guy Who Put Down the Phone: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2011/12/05/thanks-to-the-guy-who-put-down-the-phone/

      Start The Conversation: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/02/20/start-the-conversation/

      I wish you only the best, my friend. Keep me posted.

  69. 196

    says

    YEAH!!! Love, love, love to watch them play and be a part of their play and be INVITED!!!

    Just found your blog, a friend told me about it! So far, I love it!! I will definitely be checking you out!

    Awesome post!!

    Thank You!

    Andrea : )

  70. 197

    says

    That has just made me cry, made my heart swell and made me smile…. gorgeous! I tell my boys and hubby I adore them all the time, but I know me. As they get older, I’ll add buts, ifs, explanations. I will never forget this, it’s burned into my brain… thank you!

  71. 198

    Sarah says

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. Seriously, tears streaming. How truly simple it is to make a kid’s day, to make them feel special, and wrap them up in a love and approval that only a parent can give.

  72. 200

    Stef Newman says

    I love reading all of your posts, but this one really struck a chord with me. We can express sentiments like this in so many ways, and it brought tears to my eyes thinking about how often I can share a feeling like this with my kids. Thank you for this new daily mantra I can’t wait to try.

    Today is my birthday, and my nine year old daughter, who has a passion for cooking and who just started baking by herself, made me incredible cupcakes from scratch, along with my favorite icing, also from scratch. After I sampled her buttercream, I made it a point to say, “I love tasting your work.” Her smile alone was the best present I could have asked for!

  73. 203

    says

    The message in your post really spoke to me ~ I’ve been doing this more and more, and seeing my son’s face light up when I talk to him this way is so rewarding. I am also a bit proud… I have been leaving my smartphone home altogether when we go out to the park ~ I feel much more ‘in the moment’ with my kids and more relaxed for it. You are inspiring x

  74. 206

    says

    I am crying as I write this- this touched me in so many ways it is hard to share. I love this post and will return to it often. I am bookmarking and pinning it right now. I would love to share it on Boy Mama Teacher Mama too if that is okay with you. Thank you!

    • 208

      says

      Thank you for sharing the message, Stephanie! It has been viewed almost 100,000 times because of people like you. I had big dreams for this message … that it would touch some lives … but this is beyond my wildest dreams! I am truly grateful. I look forward to checking out your page! With gratitude, Rachel

  75. 209

    says

    Oh my. Thank you is all I can say to you after reading this post. You bought tears to my eyes.
    I have 17 month old twins so I have not yet come to the stage of sports or other activities. But I hope, no actually I know, the memory of this post will stay with me forever. I too am a woman of many words. I tell every detail of an event or whatever I may be telling someone about. Sometimes less really is more.

  76. 211

    says

    followed a link and found this amazing post…. so glad I did.

    I am so that mama who tears up when her kids step up and do something, and also that mama who is tempted to blabber on when all I need to say is “I love to watch you…”

  77. 213

    justanotherwakeupcall says

    “I love to watch you play” – I will say this today! its a beautiful mantra and i get the feeling it will work for me. thank you :)

  78. 214

    says

    Wow! That was so wonderful…I am another mama you have just brought to tears with your beautiful words. Thank you for sharing these moments with us….my LO is only 14 months and I find myself tearing up watching her do what she does. I have a very close friend who is a dancer. We lived together while she was attending college for dance and I spent many hours watching her in rehearsal as well as on stage performing. Every single time I saw her dance I would be brought to tears. I wish I had these 6 words to use then but I have them now. I’m going to let her know how much I loved to watch her dance all those years ago. I’m so glad you recognized the need to do this with your husband as well. This is a great reminder to us all to tell everyone in our lives that we love when they touch us like this!
    Thank you thank you thank you!

  79. 215

    Storie says

    Thank you so much for this post. I don’t yet have children of my own, although it is something I have looked forward to my entire life. This post made me appreciate my own mother more for saying those simple words, “I love to watch you play”. I remember when they visited me one day when I was an intern at the zoo. My mom cried so hard watching me feed the bears as children surrounded me in awe. Now I more deeply understand why she cried so much that day. She loved to see me grow, learn, stretch my wings and fly.

  80. 218

    michele says

    God has given you a most precious gift. I’ve been reading checking on your blog off and on for a few months now and it is such a blessing to me every single time. I mean seriously, every time, i tear up as something profound hits me and i see a new way of looking at or interacting with my children. Thank you and may God continue to bless your relationship with your children AND your husband.:-)

    • 219

      says

      Thank you, Michele. I feel so blessed to write the message divinely placed on my heart. This blog has brought me in contact with such amazing people. Each comment and email message fuels my writing even more. Thanks for being a regular visitor. Your support means the world.

  81. 220

    says

    Like you, I am verbose by nature, so this kind of brevity is challenging. I have said something similar to both my daughter and husband…and I’ve tended to tack on another sentence or two just because. I look forward to practicing this new “short and sweet” speech with both of my beloveds. Thank you!

  82. 221

    JD says

    I found this article when a friend posted it on Facebook, and it has since been shared by another friend. I too, do not remember having EVER told my kids that I love watching them do anything, and yet, of course, I love watching them do EVERYthing. One thing I had to say is that we, as parents, need to actually WATCH. I have been to so many sporting events and have looked around to see parents with their eyes in their gadgets and not focused on their kids. I see their kids make a swoosh or score a goal and look over to to their parents for affirmation, and they are crestfallen to see that their moments were not shared. It’s heartbreaking. Thank you for the reminder that we all live in the moment, and thank you again for this marvelous piece of writing!

  83. 223

    Rosie says

    Thank you for putting it so eloquently – I don’t have children but those six words apply to everyone, and I got that feeling you get when knowledge clicks into place as I read your post.

    And, I love the loving respect I see behind the fact that you have answered every comment! Bless you x

  84. 225

    says

    I love your thoughts. They are also my own. In fact, I wrote two books about them called, “The Time-Starved Family” and “The Mother’s Mite.” I haven’t blogged for almost a year now because I want to be a “hands free” mom, too.
    I quit my speaking job that took me away from home.
    Slowed my pace.
    Now. I. Just. Love. To. Watch. My. Kids. Grow.

    And I don’t want to miss a thing…

    • 226

      says

      Thank you so much, DeAnne. Those sound like books I would love and would gain much insight from! Thank you so much for sharing. I admire what you said about giving up the blogging and speaking to live “Hands Free.”

  85. 227

    says

    Oh my goodness….This is so beautiful it made me cry! I have no idea what your spiritual beliefs are, but this truly blessed my heart as a mom and as a child of God! This is SO the heart of our Father! The pressure’s off! We can lean into Him and relax because He approves of us! Yay! Thank you. <3

    • 228

      says

      Thank you, Elissa! I often write, “I am simply the messenger on this journey, and it is by the grace of God that I have this message to give …” I am incredibly grateful to share the words that are divinely placed on my heart. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  86. 229

    Trish D says

    I love watching your beautiful authentic vulnerability radiate through your words in every post I read and re-read. *tears*. Thank you Rachel. Xx

  87. 233

    Kali says

    Tears. amazing. as a homeschooling mom of three, with one highly gifted five year old, i need this reminder.

    I am not sure of my parents said these exact words, but I will say this: one of the things that always has stood out to me about my childhood (and adulthood) regarding my relationship with my parents is that they have supported me in my talents and dreams. I started performing in plays around age five and started singing before audiences around age eight. I was also an avid writer. My parents never missed one performance, not one, and that is saying a lot. They showed my poems and stories and essays to family members and friends. I was by far not the most talented child in any if these areas, but I enjoyed them greatly. I felt my parents did too. They did not make me feel negatively critiqued but neither did I hear exorbitant praise. I truly think they just enjoyed “watching me play”.

  88. 234

    says

    I love the fact that this post is nearing a year from your publish date and it is still touching people. It was shared on facebook by a ‘fellow’-missionary friend here in Belize, Central America. My husband and I have 4 ‘original’ children and we are in the LONG process of adopting a Belizean sibling set of 3. My eldest son has already gone to college but that leaves us with 6 in the home; plus the students we have at school. It doesn’t matter how many children are in the family…time is precious!

    But not nearly as precious as those who pass through our care.

    Each relationship has its challenges. There is always something that COULD be said but… ‘ain’t nobody got time for all that’. I truly try to say what I need to say and leave the rest. However, I do get bogged down and distracted from time to time. Thanks for the reminder.

    I included our website but it is SO outdated since I’ve been using our facebook group more recently. One day I’ll try to resurrect the website but for now…I have more ‘precious ones’ to attend to.

  89. 236

    Charles says

    thanks for your piece and it’s great to see it’s so well received. In Aotearoa/New Zealand the nation wide Playcentre movement focuses on holistic creative children’s play, with volunteer parents running the centres; it may be of interest to you. http://www.playcentre.org.nz We have loved watching our three sons play and flourish there.

  90. 237

    says

    I love this and I just found you and am convinced I was inspired onto this post and your blog. I have been having mom guilt like no other! I just need to simplify the kid’s activities. I don’t need to do fancy activities or learning games. Just be there and be wtih them! I don’t have a fancy phone for this reason because I don’t want to be trapped to it, or feeel like I need to be trapped to it. Thank you

  91. 240

    Amanda says

    How lovely is this article. It brought tears to my eyes knowing how 6 simple words would mean to your loved ones. I have found myself in this situation many times. Watching my son play, watching my husband draw and play with the kids, watching my little girl crawl. I will have to use this. Thank you for sharing

  92. 242

    Barbara Tantum says

    I was so moved by your article that I had to use those six words that night (I’m always guilty of saying too much.). So after my son’s baseball game I told him “Will, I loved watching you play tonight!” And my son answers, “Yeah I know right. I’m awesome!” Lol. So much for a heartfelt moment. Luckily I think my girls will react differently. Thank you for sharing such life changing words!

    • 243

      says

      Well, you gave me a smile tonight, Barbara! I love that you gave it a try and even though you got the “cool” answer from your son, I’d like to believe it means something deep down … or perhaps will in the future. Thanks for taking time to write to me. It means so much to know that you were moved by the piece enough that it inspired you to act. This means so much to me.
      -Rachel

      • 244

        Barbara Tantum says

        Thanks Rachel. I think I should mention that my son is only 7. Not sure he was being cool as much as being very confident in himself. LOL Looking forward to reading your future posts!

  93. 245

    says

    It’s amazing how powerful these few words I are…

    Just the simple things can be changed into such motivators for our little princes and princesses and, you get the most unexpected answers too…

    Thanks, great post…

  94. 246

    Ally says

    I love this! I also catch myself saying “I love you, but…” when trying to correct my child’s behavior. “I love you, but you you may not hit me.” “I love you, but you need to eat your dinner.” I’m going to be more conscientious about that after reading your post. Criticism and correction should not be linked to a parent’s love. There’s a time for each, but love should not be conditional. Thank you! :)

  95. 248

    says

    I have no words Rachel I’m tearing huge droplets of tears and smiling too! I just love what you write. You are an amazing ,mom and wife! And an amazing person for touching so many lives

  96. 249

    says

    Thank goodness for comments! I was beginning to think I must be a hormonal mess or something. Tears came welling up in my eyes as I read this too. Thank you for such a wonderful reminder. I have said these words many times but definitely not enough and not to my spouse-I am positive I need to use them more.

  97. 250

    SandraA says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I am a newbie to your blog (from Momastery), and I am hooked.

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in July, and I am crying at the many things I will tell him that I love watching him do. I am a scrapbooker, so it will be in the form of a mini-book. I feel blessed that you have given me the answer to what I’ve been asking myself; what can I possibly say to him about the 40 years we’ve been together?

  98. 254

    faatima says

    I found your blog today … theres so much that i have teared about … theres so much that i am guilty of … and theres so much to fix – but I am also rejoicing in the thought that its not too late .. and I can make it a hands free revolution -for me and my family … this post is so apt and so great for me and my kids at this point in our lives. Thank you. xxx

  99. 255

    Reeta says

    This beautiful post was shared by a friend on Facebook today. I really needed to read this today. I will remember those words and to really let myself feel those feelings you wrote about with my own girls. Our sons and daughters are a perfect gift to us and we as parents need to be a perfect gift for them. I can’t wait to see my girls tonight and tell them those words.

  100. 258

    Ashley F. says

    This is the first post of yours that I have read and it really hit home for me. A friend of mine shared it on Facebook and I am so happy I read it. I am a teacher and coach and am sometimes too quick to criticize rather than commend. I will keep these 6 words in mind to try with my students and also with my 7 year old cousin who is doing a dance recital tomorrow. I am excited to go watch her just so i can tell her afterwards that i love to watch her dance. Thank you for your inspirational post.

  101. 259

    Dawn says

    This is the first time I’ve come across your blog. It made me tear up too. I’ll have to remember to use these words with my family-(siblings; children; parents; and husband) and with the special needs students that I’ll be teaching as I start my new job in August. I’ll have to read more of your blogs. I love to watch/read how you are inspiring many people….

    • 260

      says

      Thank you, Dawn. I am so glad you are here. I taught special ed for 9 years. I learned some of my best Hands Free lessons from my students. I wish you all the best in your new job. I found that the most important thing was connecting with the students and building them up–that is how we made the most progress. If you ever have a hard day and need encouragement, feel free to write me. I have lots of blog posts written about my teaching days. I would be happy to find the perfect one to share with you. I wish you all the best. Thank you for the work you do and the love you give to these precious children.

  102. 261

    says

    Rachel,
    Really lovely writing (and expression) about the power of few words to convey what is often hard to put into words. I relate to your penchant for over-wordiness and this article will really help me scale back the words. Simplicity is our friend in today’s overtly complicated world.
    Do you have any blogs or articles about the importance of play for spirit? I would be honored to post a blog of yours on my FB page http://www.facebook.com/sharedmeals and would be happy to offer a writing from any future blogs I write for my “Shared Meals Matter” blog as well on yours. My heart was lifted that you said you learned from your special ed students. Bravo, Rachel!

  103. 263

    Toni Ann Buys says

    Thank you for sharing these words with the world. I love reading what you have to say. You are blessed with talent and we are blessed to be able to be the recipients of your open heart. Don’t stop.

  104. 264

    Julia says

    This reminded me of a documentary I watched on young ballet dancers called “First Position.” A mother of two, a little boy and an extraordinarily talented girl, was so visibly in love when her children danced that I thought of her when I read your article. Dance was not the little boy’s passion, and he gave it up in the end of the movie, but I hope he dances sometimes just for her! Despite her “sport mom” intensity, you could tell she loved to watch him and it had nothing to do with performance. Don’t we just love and adore our people?

  105. 265

    Cathie Bishop says

    I want you to know I used those 6 words in my sermon today. The six words were my example of sharing the compassion of Christ in our daily lives. Already had my sermon done, but just had to fit them in…so simple really. Thank you for sharing.

    • 266

      says

      Oh wow! I am so touched! Thank you for blessing me with this message today. If you happen to post your sermons online, I would love the link so I can hear it! Thank you for spreading the love!

  106. 268

    says

    I am so thrilled a friend “shared” this today. I am a writer and sometimes unnecessarily verbose. Just because I know the words and enjoy playing with them, does not mean I should always use so many of them. Considering the fact I most often prefer information to come to me in a short and concise way, I find sharing information makes my brain wordy when I truly care for someone. However, I have recently had someone come into my life I only spend small (but important) amounts of time with, we are concise in the way we speak and I have become very good at saying, “I love to watch you _____.”, because I do. Thank you for sharing. Reading your post is one of those random things that made me smile and made me realize the Universe teaches us all the same lessons. We are not alone.

  107. 269

    Sandy Savage says

    Amazing words! Thank you!! I shared your blog with facebook friends and had one reply that she was going to try it with her young son at soccer tonight. Here is her note to me post-soccer: “I said them to Davis tonight as he came off the pitch, and it was amazing. He looked at me like I was a little weird and then broke into a megawatt grin and hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe. His friend tried to speak to him and he said, “Hey – A little privacy here please.” And then he squeezed me tighter. My heart is full and my eyes are full of tears.

    Thank you to the writer and to Sandy. You made me a better sports mom.”

  108. 270

    Karen Creutzer says

    Thank you for reminding me that something so simple can be so powerful. Now I’m excited to see the smiles that the simple joys bring my daughters.

  109. 271

    says

    This is a wonderful thought….. I have decided to make a list of things I love to watch about a dear friend who is having a birthday soon. We have a friendship of 30 years and it is special – he is having a birthday soon – I will prepare the list, frame it and present it to my one true friend. Thank you so much for a wonderful idea. I will use this other places, too but I now have a unique idea for a special person. dw

  110. 274

    teacherinmass19 says

    Just found this article on Facebook…

    I’m not a parent, but I teach/parent fifty 10 year olds each day as a teacher. I often struggle because I want to offer some vague praise like “Great job!” or “Awesome!”. I do try to say things like “That must make you feel so ____ to have done that/accomplished that” as I want to recognize their own intrinsic feelings and not always have them see the external praise. But this idea is also great. It shows that you were watching. It shows your own feelings. And it simplifies things- that it is important to accomplish something, as opposed to only being the best performer or most perfect technique. I plan to use this often in my classroom. Thank you.

  111. 275

    Mimi says

    I wish I had known your writing when I was raising my children. I will start right now with my grandson telling him that I love the way he…
    Thank you!

  112. 276

    Mimi says

    I wish I had known your writing when I was raising my children. I will start right now telling my grandson I love watching you…
    Thank you.

  113. 277

    Sue says

    As I read your blog, tears came to my eyes. We as a society are so hard on ourselves and we pass that on to our children. I wonder what our children would be like if they were raised with that sentence, “I love to watch you ______!”

    I think of those adults or young adults that have caused pain on young children ~things such as rape, beating them up, making fun of them, even to the shootings in the schools. Did anyone ever say to them……”I love to watch you play!”

    If only someone would have, I wonder what would be different for those that have inflicted such pain.

    To me it doesn’t matter if they are my child or someone else s to let them know that I see greatness in them can do wonders for them. We all have a responsibility to reach out and love the children of the world and let them know…..they have an impact that warms our hearts.

    Who can you love today?

  114. 279

    Debbie says

    I am almost 60 years old. My father died a number of years ago. THE most special comment he ever made to me about my musical performances was when I was 25 and jobbing in different chamber ensembles, trying to make it as a professional musician. He and my mom came to a small opera dance performance where the musicians were on stage. Afterwards he commented that he really enjoyed how I was having fun performing.
    It had taken me a long time to show more enjoyment in performing than the hard work and he was the first to notice. Very special an still makes me tear up remembering it.

  115. 280

    Aari says

    Coming back to this post to thank you. I have infused this approach into my interactions with my son. One can always do more. And I need to step up my application of it to my wife & friends.

  116. 282

    Kristen Miller says

    I loved this article and plan on making it work more for my children !! Many thanks, Kristen

  117. 284

    says

    Wow..and you reply to a lot of the comments. I love to watch you reply! Anyway, there is not much more than can be said that hasn’t already been said but I hope that your blog will be read by the Dads out there so that we Dads may realize what power our words have an what power our silence (not always in a good way) has on our kids.

    Jim

  118. 285

    says

    I love to feel what you feel.

    Tears running down my face, a parent to a 6 year old for whom I work hard not to share my encouragement in a manner that could be misconstrued as criticism, critique or coaching (not that there are not appropriate times to do so, after all, he is 6 and has much to learn, but not every moment he is with me), I find your self-realization heartening and I am so happy for your daughters and your husband and for all the people who are affected by your sharing this insight and who put it into application. Please, at your convenience, get in touch with me as the launch of the website for the National Association of Parents is nearing and I love discovering great parents!

  119. 286

    says

    “I love to watch you play”

    I can’t think of a better thing to say to your son or daughter after a game. Yes, you can talk about what they did right and what went wrong (to an extent anyway) but at the end of the day this is the message that needs to get through no matter what.

  120. 288

    Brenda Hall says

    After watching my grandson play a double-header baseball game last night, he was exhausted, and kicking himself for a couple of bad plays. Your post just inspired me, and though he is at work, I picked up my phone & texted him, saying, “It doesn’t matter if you hit a home run, if you catch a fly ball, or or if you tag a runner out, I JUST LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY! ” His reply to my text made me cry. THANK YOU for teaching this grandma that it is never too late to encourage the ones we love!

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    Becky says

    What a meaningful post. Nowadays, technology takes over our verbal communication. And many families are broken for exactly the same reasons. We do not make the time to express our feelings anymore. We are so busy to take the time to raise a child and even enjoy a swimming or a violin practice because we are so engaged in our own personal and professional goals. Many couples think their families represent a priority in their lives, and they truly believe they are doing everything right. I truly question it. We should realize that simple statements like “I Love to Watch You Play”. Speaks volumes for a child as equally for an adult. I would like to ad that “I Love to Watch You Play” represents the following. Pay attention to the details done by a loved one It also represents commitment to take the time to spend with our dear ones.

  122. 290

    says

    Thank you for this beautiful piece. As a coach and teacher, I think about this all the time. What’s the best way to give instructive feedback? How to establish a most powerful learning moment?

    At best, that unconditional appreciation for the learner’s *being* lies underneath it all.

    Thanks for helping me see that even more clearly.

    One other note: I wonder what would shift if we applied such generosity to ourselves, whether out loud, written in a journal or just recited in our minds. That could be powerful medicine, I imagine. I’m going to try it going forward.

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    Susie Loughran says

    My children are grown and boy, could I have used this when they were younger doing sports! But even now, one of my girls is getting married and I could already have used your 6 words! Thank you for this.

  124. 294

    says

    This post is so beautiful. I try to use statements like this with my girls often, but I LOVE how you put this into such a simple yet perfect six-word statement that can be used in so many situations when I am feeling EXACTLY that.
    I always love to read your posts, so I’ve finally subscribed so I’ll see them when they’re written instead of a month later! Thank you!

  125. 295

    says

    Thank you so much! I have watched my children learn to play as babies. As school children, play sports, play in the band, sing in the school chorus. Each time I choked back the tears of joy. I was so proud of them and I did just “Love to watch them play” Now I have grandchildren and nothing has changed. I wipe away the tears as I “watch each of them play” and learn. I just saw my oldest grandchild graduate from preschool and I hid the tears behind my camera as I proudly took as many pictures I could. I loved seeing the pride on his and his mothers face because I still ” Love to see them play” Thank you so much! It is nice to know I am not alone in joyful tears.

  126. 296

    Kathleen says

    What a blessing to have been introduced to your writing with this post… Oh yes indeed ~ I love to watch you write! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us all.

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    Mulan says

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for writing this piece! It literally brought tears to my eyes because it is exactly what I need to know. I have a 1 yr-old-son, so he can’t exactly understand those 6 words yet. But, your piece really speaks to my relationship with my husband. Both of us don’t usually fight but when we do fight, it is usually pretty bad like what it has been for the past few days. We’ve made up but I feel that things have never been the same as before. I realize from your piece that both of us just hardly ever compliment each other verbally. We just don’t say those things often enough and I thank you for this wake-up call. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU

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    Leonard Fahrni says

    I coached for several years and I feel bad that I didn’t have this simple statement in my repertoire. There were times when it would have been perfect. Now I teach university level math and science classes for education majors. I am going to use this (maybe morphed to “I like the way you think, I like the way you explained that” . . . I already do this once in a while but there could be more) and I might also reveal that I am doing it and suggest it as a simple way for my students to praise their future students. Thanks.

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    says

    I found you through your “Momastory” post over on Glennon’s blog, and have been silently ‘stalking’ here ever since…lol. You are such a gifted writer with an absolutely eloquent flow to your words. This essay left me breathless and teary-eyed. All I can say is “yes” to all of it. Those six words are priceless. I often feel them, but am also a mama guilty of muddying moments with excess verbage, now that I really think about it. Praise? Absolutely. Words of encouragement spattered with specks of ‘suggested improvement’? You betcha. However, because of this post…I will remember to keep in simple. After all, we shouldn’t ever concentrate so hard on raising a good/talented/wonderful kid, that we lose sight of the fact that we already have one, right? :-)

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    shelaghf says

    What a beautiful piece of writing. Yesterday, as I was spending time with my adult daughter, I was thinking how much I love watching her talk – express herself. But I didn’t say so. Now I will.
    Thank you!

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    Tonya Swink says

    I just found your blog and couldn’t be happier. Your words will hopefully change my children’s lives. Thank you for opening my eyes.

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    says

    Love this. My kids are 17 and 19. One of the things I say to them, especially as they entered the teen years, was “I love who you are becoming.” As they explored their opinions about faith, politics, social issues, and so on, and began to form a world view–even if it was not an exact replica of mine, those words reassured them that the wandering was a journey, that they were indeed becoming something, and that it was good.

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    Dianna says

    Wow. This is truly a changing moment for me. Just found your blog–this is the first post I read. Thank you. I have three little girls, and these are the words I need–nothing more. Thanks for opening my eyes.

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    says

    Oh man!! as soon as I read the words, I started thinking about how much I LOVE to watch my daughter swim. And how I would move to the ends of the Earth for her to have the chance to swim, all because I LOVE TO WATCH HER SWIM!! I love how much she loves it and how she transforms, like it was something she was born to do. Thank you so much!

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    Heidi says

    I loved the message of this post – thank you! Last night when my 16 year old son (who has been taller than me for over 4 years and wears a full beard) drove me home from his baseball game, we were chatting about the game and how he had done. I stopped mid-sentence remembering this post and simply said, “I love watching you play baseball.” He said, “Really? I thought it was boring for you, so I’m so glad when you come.” I told him I loved to watch the joy he has when he plays. I love to watch him try knew things (he does not frequently pitch and he closed the game as pitcher). I also told him I love to watch him encourage his teammates. Big smile from the nearly-grown boy! Thanks for sparking a meaningful conversation!

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    says

    From one wordy, weepy, happy mom to another, I could sooo relate to this! Thank you for sharing because when we share we affirm. And love for our children, in all the forms we show it, needs to be affirmed! ~ Susan

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    says

    I’m not sure how I found my way here but all I know is that I’ve read something profound which will shape the way I raise my little girl ….

    Thank you.

    Mr T. (Brisbane, Australia).

  138. 310

    Rhonda Akers says

    This came through my Facebook feed on Thursday before Father’s Day, 2013. What a wonderful idea for those of us who like to make our own cards for special occasions, and amazing advice for every parent in the world. My children will be grateful for the minimalist approach. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    says

    Delightful! Thank you. My boys constantly amaze me with their projects and their creations, the way their minds work, their outrageous imaginations. I love to watch them do the things they do, and I will remember to say that simply to them. Thank you!

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    Marina D-K says

    Found this article from a friend who shared on FB. As a Mama who cries at big events as well as everyday events this so exactly puts into words my feelings when the tears come. I cry because I just plain love my kid, and I just plain love seeing her experience the joy of life. Thank you for sharing. I love at the end when your talking about your husband, his reaction doesn’t matter, but you feel those feelings and its important that you share them. Yes! You’ve gained a new reader for sure!

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    Eric Wimberly says

    I just teared up reading this and reflecting on my own “after game/practice” speeches. I am a strength and conditioning coach for a professional basketball team, so needless to say after every game or practice I have a plethora of tips on how to be more explosive, faster, how to get quicker reaction times, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever just told my son “I love to watch you play”. I’m on the road now with my team, but I can’t wait to get back home and tell him those words after his game! Thank you for this post, it has truly opened my eyes to what’s really important.

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    says

    Thank you for writing this piece. I love the message of simplicity and feeling, removing the judgements and pressure.
    I am a swim coach and have always felt uncomfortable with using the word ‘proud’ to refer to something that someone else has done including when parents say that they’re proud of their child’s swim, achievement, etc. I’ve always believed that pride is a personal feeling of accomplishment, that it embodies a sense of responsibility for making something happen, an achievement, the work that has occurred. The feeling that you describe, I think, may be a much better description of what most parents are feeling when they say they are proud of their child for a specific act.

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    Christine McCollum says

    Wonderful and important information to get right to the center of expressing love for one another. I love the book “The Five Love Languages” and it has helped me understand myself and my children better. I know this phrase “I love watching you …” will even further our relationship and clarify misunderstandings. I agree.. less is more. One important observation. Watching is key. It’s not enough to say “I like the idea you are on the swim team”. Physically being there WATCHING (not on the cell phone or consumed in a conversation with a friend) IS important. Also, make sure you mean the words you are about to say. Kids can smell a fake emotion a mile away and it hurts more than no comment at all.
    Love your words of wisdom and will be applying them today! Thanks!

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    Christy says

    What a great post!! I happened upon your blog by chance, reading it from a friend of a friend on facebook. I swear I tear up at the littleist things all the time, good to know I am not the only one :) My daughter is only 17 months but these are words I will start to use and remember to use as she gets older. What a great thing to remember and to say!! Thank you!

  145. 319

    says

    I know it has already been said, but yes, I love to watch you write as well. Thank you so much for sharing and really opening my eyes to the fact that, like you, I have often thought the phrase in my mind, but never voiced it to the ones I love. Thanks for the prompt to implement this in my every day life!

  146. 320

    Beverley says

    You are such an inspiration I had a light bulb moment:
    In conversation with others it can be nice to say I love the words you
    1) said 2) chose 3) feel 4) share

    I can see you have brought your message to all the above followers who have become aware and ready to change some of the recipes in their verbal approach to others….Me being one! Namaste

  147. 322

    Donna says

    What you wrote touched my heart. It released my tears and reminded me that God loves me this way.
    My children (all grown) missed out because I didn’t know. Thank you for being real, honest, and authentic. Keep writing. It’s inspiring and hopeful.

  148. 323

    says

    Thank you doesn’t do justice for the spark you created and how quickly this article will be put into action with my family. I am excited for my two young boys to start playing and doing extra curricular activities, and I want to be the six-word parent, and to always remember what is really important in life, not a score, not a recommended improvement, but a constant knowledge for our children to always know that we are their biggest fans, biggest supporters and how much LOVE we have for them, every single moment of every single day. THANK YOU!

  149. 325

    Karin says

    I love this whole article… wish I saw it when my kids were little…and now wonder how I can use it at work with my employees…. I am going to strive to tell them six words every day…What I like about this article the most…Is..I love the way you reply…to almost everyone… it is very heart touching that you do. I have read many an article… and people leave comments and nothing is said back to them… thank you for responding to people…I love that you make them feel like they matter (lots more then 6 words) Anyways…thank you

  150. 326

    Angie Rico says

    Thank You!! I needed this so much. I love watching my girls play softball but I have never told them that. I don’t know if they know how much I do love just watching them but I will make sure they do now.

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    Geniese Gilman says

    Thank you for the reminder to speak the love I feel.
    Geniese

    a grateful wife
    a thankful mom to nine
    a delighted mom-in-law and love to five
    an amazed grandmommy

  152. 330

    says

    That post changed my life, and will change my relationships with my children and husband. Thank you so much! Sometimes we forget that it the simplest things that really matter!

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    says

    In truth, everyone knows that we cannot all win, you cannot manufacture self esteem and there isn’t really a 9th place ribbon. Competition is real – and it’s good for the soul.

    So why did I feel compelled to comment…?

    In short, because “I love to watch you play” is the most honest sentiment I’ve ever felt watching my own children compete – and they always know the score. Only once did I make my son feel he’d let me down on the field and I swore I’d never do it again… I cheer, instruct and encourage from the sidelines… but win or lose – my kids know “I love to watch them play”.

    Your are a gifted writer. Continued success!

  154. 332

    Matt says

    Thank you for this story, this article comes to me just two months after I loss my 28 year old son. I loved my son and he loved me. He told me and many of his friends I was his hero. I was proud of him. But I still judged him for some of the things he was doing in his life. He made choices in his life that I would never think of doing. He purchased things that I would not even consider purchasing, even though I made alot more money than he did. He would ask me my opinion on a subject I would tell him, and if he differed on my thoughts I was ok with that. I always loved watching him play sports, football, basketball, soccer, baseball, wrestling, swim team. But I don’t know if I ever told him “I love watching you play>>>” My daughter is two years older, and by all society views she is much more successful. ie college, law school, lawyer, married a successful lawyer. But my son had so many more friends than she has. Buddys’ that when needed help he was there for them. A job, a place to live, extra bucks. He was there for so many. And so protective of the girls he dated, he would never let anyone disrespect them. He was a true “guys guy” and for the girl, a chivalrous man, their protector. We had tough go in the 17-20 year old span as many do. My wife called it the young gorilla challenging the “silver back”. I wish I had used those 6 words more in my life. I am going to use them more in the REST of my life. Thank you for writing them.

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      says

      Thank you, Matt, for sharing your story. The love and acceptance you had for your son comes shining through your heartfelt words–and I can only imagine, but something tells me your son felt it whenever he was in your presence. What a gift. To be loved “as is” with no conditions. I can see why you were your son’s hero. And by sharing your story here today, you have impacted more lives. Thank you for your inspiration. I wish you peace.

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    kim says

    Wow. I am often guilty of the same thing (though i always felt it helpful and constructive), “praising” my son in the exact manner you described, reading this i wondered could it really be this simple?? but in my heart i know what it would mean to me to hear those words…. thank you so much for your time and thoughts and the differences you will create by sharing both

  156. 337

    says

    Fantastic. There are so many areas of life where those six words will come in handy. My dogs and my client’s dogs make up a big portion of my world. I’ll share this message with them.

    Even though dogs don’t speak our verbal language, they certainly understand our body language. When I tell my dog that I love to watch him work his magic with kids in need (we’re a therapy team that works with kids in the cycle of violence), I’ll know he understands just by the look in his eyes and a gentle lean against my thigh. Thanks again for this message.

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    Maryanne White says

    I am not a mother and at 40 (almost 41) I most likely never will be. But, I have been a child (a SWIMMER no less, and a swim coach) and I have young people in my life (cousin’s children, niece). I LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece. I cried. I cried for the memories of being a kid and my parents being so proud of me. I cried for how much I love the little ones in my life. I cried thinking about how I will say things like this to my boyfriend the next time I catch myself just observing him doing something kind. I cried because I know I will say things like this to my friends and coworkers when they do something just because it is their character to care and DO. Thank you for writing such a beautiful narrative about one of the best feelings in the world…someone loving you for just doing what you do. :)

  158. 339

    says

    This really hit home for me today. Not because I have kids, but because there are people in my life who need to know how I feel right now. I need to tell them that. Thank you for sharing!

  159. 340

    says

    Finally, a mommy blog where the mommy can actually write! First time I have been here, but I think I like to read your writing. Nice. KC

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    Noemi says

    I’m really curious how to balance this with the idea of avoiding creating a situation where my child is doing something to try and please me.

  161. 342

    Lauren says

    i stumbled upon this article because it was shared by one of my friends on facebook, and wanted to comment on it from the “child’s” point of view. I’m not actually really a child anymore but i am not a mother yet and still identify with the KID in this situation. and you have certainly latched onto gold I think. Your article really touched me because it made me stop for a second and think about my life and realize the kind of parents i had. i was a competitive dancer all my life and with shows like “dance moms” you can clearly see that it is a CRAZY lifestyle (yes, there are moms that are THAT insane) and that a lot of mothers are pushy and overcritical of their children. But my mom used this phrase you have discovered all the time. She told me all the time how much she loved to watch me dance. After a performance, I would come offstage, frantically asking her if she saw all the times I messed up. And she would always deny seeing any mistakes. Instead she would just say “I just love watching you in that number” or “I could watch you dance all day”. She never pushed me, never gave me corrections (which I’m thankful for, considering she was never a dancer and probably would have had no idea what she was talking about). And now, after reading your post, I have really thought about it and I remember a lot of my friends mothers telling them critiques, or WORSE, saying how much better they were than everyone out there and how they had been screwed over, etc. And now that I think about it, those kids quit dancing by the time they were teenagers. Their mothers burnt them out. This of course was NEVER their mothers’ intentions, and probably all of their words were said out of the greatest love and wanting the best for their kid. But I am so thankful my mom simply told me that she loved watching me dance. In the fall I will start my junior year of college as a DANCE major. I continued dancing throughout my entire childhood and high school years, and ended up earning scholarships for dance at many different universities. It is my passion and I want to do it for the rest of my life. And I thank my lucky stars that my mom had the sense to just tell me the six words that you have so eloquently described. Thank you for this post and for reminding me of the wonderful, wonderful mother I have.

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      says

      Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your experience. What you have described here is more powerful than anything I could ever write. I will take your words to heart as my daughters grow and perform. Your mom sounds very special. I am inspired by you both.

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    Nancy says

    I cry at all of my 3 daughters’ performances and accomplishments, and they like to tease me about it. I have warned them that I have cried over their accomplishments from the day they were born and I will continue to cry over them for the rest of their lives! I told them that when I watch them perform, I get so proud of them that I just can’t keep it inside and it explodes out of my eyes!

    They all act like they don’t want to make me cry, but any time I am watching them perform and they see me wipe away a tear, they smile and I know that they know I love them!

  163. 346

    Janet Hartsell says

    Thank you. Not only am I going to use this with my family but also with my kindergarteners. I can’t wait for their reactions. I am also thankful I read your article in time for Father’s Day. What a gift! I love the way you inspired me today.

  164. 347

    says

    I just read “Six Words You Should Say”! Just in time, I guess! Our son, (youngest of 7 children) will be competing in a National Track Meet this afternoon. I know exactly what I’m going to say….. :)

  165. 348

    judy mealy says

    I love that your are unselfish and willing to share your knowledge,thanks for sharing your wisdom with us,making my day and others,thanks Judy!!

  166. 349

    laura says

    As a performer now as a grownup, I remember back when my Dad would come to singing competitions with me and tell me how proud he was and how much he loved to watch me. That kind of “I’m watching you and proud of you” gave me such confidence onstage and off, I realize now. It’s all connected to that “Mommy, watch me!” that all kids do before they make a very unimpressive leap into the pool. If only we acknowledged kids every time they said (or wanted to say), “Mom, look at me!!” I think kids would feel a whole heckuva lot more self-assured. Funny how those words are such magic. Acknowledgement, support and just plain ATTENTION!

  167. 350

    Lee Bushen says

    I’ve always wondered how to say inspirational things to my kids without sounding judgmental or setting high expectations. I’ve heard that you should say “well done, you practiced very hard” instead of “well done, you’re very clever”. As a child, I was always told “your very clever” which made me thing “oh, that’s OK then, I don’t need to try any harder then”. I’d actually take your comments a step further and include things like “I love to read with you”, “I love to lie with you while you drift off to sleep” and “I love spending time with you”. Although sometimes it feels like comments go in one ear and out the other with kids, I think we’d be surprised how much of it sticks!

  168. 351

    says

    Simply beautiful. I will tell my girls this first thing. I can already see my 4-year-old put so much pressure on herself to be the best at everything. She needs no extra push from us.

  169. 352

    Jen says

    Well, for all those out there that this post additionally applies to, that’s fantastic, but this post couldn’t possibly have been written for anyone more specifically than me. I could go on and on about why, but I’ll just leave it at that. :) Exactly what I needed to hear.

  170. 353

    Jax says

    Was linked to this by my wife on Facebook (she shared it with all of her friends) and darn it, if you didn’t make a big 6-foot 3-inch guy start crying at work. But it’s okay, at least I get to hide out in my office until I can dry my eyes enough. Well said and I’m going to keep it in mind as well.

  171. 354

    Amy says

    My son has autism and so often, we are struggling through our day (we homeschool both of our children). There are many things that he does that just amazes me (especially after all we go through to get to that point). You are right…often I FEEL the “I love to watch you…” but don’t say it enough. This has compelled me to relay to both of my kids and my husband just what I love to watch them do. My daughter often seems to feel second fiddle due to always dealing with my son. I know those words would be wonderful for her to hear…and hear often. She is a talented little girl in her crafts and is an emerging reader. What better encouragement could their be than to lift her up with those words. Thank you for this post. I will echo what others have said…I love you watch you write. It speaks to my heart. Thank you.

  172. 355

    Paul Garchow says

    Thank you for wonderfully, eloquently stating this need for affirmation of a person’s value, which flows from the joy they have and give, not the result they produce. Well done!

  173. 360

    says

    as a wordy person myself, I really appreciate you taking the time to remember its not the amount of words we use, its what words we use that matter most. Thank you !

  174. 361

    Karen says

    Your words brought me to tears of regret. So many times this older mom struggled to enjoy our daughters’ activities. How many chances did I miss to use this short and sweet compliment? Thank the Lord she is a budding and beautiful adult and still at home for college break. I cannot wait to use your phrase, as soon as she tells me about her day at work and OFTEN after that!

  175. 362

    Timothy says

    A beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. As a relatively new father I am grateful for your advice. I can’t wait to tell my two young sons how much I love to watch them……….

  176. 363

    Jerry Britt says

    I am a dad of 2 grown talented boys and now have 2 small grandgirls. Both of my boys were star performers at a school full of good performers. Both have won prestigious awards. I cry at their performances and I laugh with them. I love to watch them sing and act. The younger one (22) just arrived at Bonnaroo a few minutes ago and is watching Paul McCartney perform as I write this comment.

    On Sunday, he performs at the same music festival. I am so proud of him. I am emotional watching them now, as I was when they were young.

    Earlier today I texted him and ask if they were going to make it in time to see McCartney. “Maybe” was his reply. They performed 3 states away last night. I was awaken a few minutes ago by his text telling me they made it. I pulled up Facebook to see a picture (that I knew would be there). As performers later, they are sitting up close in the VIP area. After seeing a picture of Paul McCartney on stage, I scrolled through a few post and found this “old” post of yours shared a few minutes ago by a friend of mine.

    You put into word what this also wordy and emotional dad has felt for 25 years. Perhaps my only difference is I don’t turn away to hide my tears. I don’t care who sees me cry when the moment moves me to tears.

    Thank you. I cried as I read this. The last time I cried before this was last night. :). It was about by 2 boys. They now lived in NC and NY. They had not seen each other in almost 2 years. They both are successful in creative careers that keep them hours from their mom and me and hours from each other. We miss them.

    Last night, the 27 year old dad of our 2.5 year old and 7 month old grandgirls drove 3 hours to see his brother perform on the way to Bonnaroo. He got home at about 3 am and his girls woke up at 7 this morning. I talked to him as he drove the last hour to keep him awake and safe, then I got up at 7 to go to work.

    As I’m writing this at 1:30 am, I have to get ups 4 am to work tomorrow. That is a rare work demand for me, but I will have another short sleep night. I’ll catch up later Saturday. I love to interact with my now grown and gone sons and I can’t wait to share these new words with them soon.

    Thank you for writing this “for me” and at “just the right time” as I’m beaming with pride over their interaction last night and the performance that the younger one is honored to be doing tomorrow.

  177. 364

    Mary Ann says

    I love the way you write…my first practice in the wonderful way to reaffirm a person’s being in such a simple way. I found myself crying after reading your post. I too tend to be wordy. My husband says too technical at times that sometimes I fear that I can’t connect with my kids. You’ve given me a great alternative- thank you!

  178. 365

    ALVF says

    These are the times that it occurs to me how lucky we are to live in the time of social media. People complain that it makes us DIS-connected but how else would I have gone from PBS parents (who posted the link on FB) to you to the Proactive Coaching and gained the amazing insight that will surely enrich the lives of my 2 children, myself, my husband and who knows how many others. This technology has allowed this beautiful idea (beautifully conveyed :) to travel out into the world in ways it never could have w/o. Thank you!

  179. 366

    Sandy says

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart! I stumbled across your post via a FB link from a friend. You really made me think about not only my life with my own children (all three of whom are grown), but the children I come into contact with every day. I’m a High School teacher; I see how much simple praise means each day to my students, many of whom come from less than pleasant home situations. Thank you for giving me new words to use and for the reminder to use it often and not just with “my kids”. As I write this, the tears of regret are flowing for my own children; thankfully, it’s never to late to change. Thank you again…I love how you touch so many lives.

  180. 367

    Sarah Elias says

    I’m going to try this with my little brother and sister. They’re both in competitive dance and they’re really good. Every time I go to their recitals and competitions and see them dance on stage I get the biggest smile on my face. Nothing makes me happier than seeing them happy doing what they love, and I also get goose bumps when I watch them, even though they’re not my kids, haha. I always think to myself that I love to watch them dance, but I don’t think that I’ve ever actually SAID that to them. I will do that next time :)

  181. 368

    The Vermonter says

    You are so correct here. Having lost 2 family members too early in my life and having survived many childhood and adult tramas, TIME is the most precious commodity in my life. All I want is time with those I love and love to be around. It’s taken me a long time to say NO to social functions I don’t want to attend, but rather spend those precious moments we only have with those that mean the world to me. Life and time are short. Enjoy it and those in it. It’s OK to say NO, to just BE and to let others too. I have always told others that I love to watch them do ……. what a gift – for them and for me. God bless you!!!

  182. 370

    says

    Wow, this is so insightful and so timely! I have been “encouraging” and “guiding” my 5-yr-old granddaughter with her dancing lessons, and I was just starting to wonder if I should back off before I put too much pressure on her. You’ve given me an eloquent way to do that! I plan to link to this in an upcoming blog. Thanks!

  183. 373

    TexasAggieMom says

    Feeling so blessed that I found this website today, and -I’m so thankful that one of my friends shared this post on FB! My “baby” turns 25 next week. I was a single mom most of her life, always working at least two jobs, and juggling her participation in multiple sports. How I wish we could go back to those days so I could use those six perfect words. Perhaps it’s not too late? How about “I love listening to you talk about your students” or “I love seeing how happy you look with your fiance.” I tend toward too many words, and too much information. This is so perfect, for both my daughter and my own college-age students. Sorry I was late to the party, but I’m a regular reader from today forward.

    • 374

      says

      So glad you are here. I think each day offers a chance to start over and use the things we know now that we didn’t know then. I bet your daughter would love to hear the things you have mentioned in the comments. Thank you for taking time to remind us all that it is not too late.

  184. 375

    Tenesa says

    A friend shared this post with on FB a week or so ago. It stuck with me and I hunted it down and shared it too. Three of my friends have since shared it.

    My kids are still quite young, but I still make a regular habit to step back and watch them and take great delight in the little people they are becoming. What I did not do was convey to them the joy that wells up in me watching them.

    At our most basic level we all have a desire to be really seen and these 6 words, I love to watch you play, convey so eloquently, “I see you and I love what I see.”

    I’ve used some form of this a couple of times a day and the reaction from my 4.5 year old son is priceless. He beams. He loves me loving watching him. I think this may be a game changer. Thank you for sharing it!

    • 376

      says

      Thank you, Tenesa. I appreciate you taking time to tell me you have used the 6 words and the beautiful reaction you received from your son! Thank you also for sharing the message with others.

  185. 377

    diane papke says

    dont wait too long to say these words. the two people i wish i could say them to are no longer here. the best i can say is i will love to see you in heaven.

  186. 378

    Scott says

    Great read!!! Definitely something to reflect on and try. A few years ago I was have a conversation with a gentleman about children. He told me something that has since changed my thought process as a parent as well as a coach. He said “children seek two things, acceptance and approval.” That has stuck with me ever since and made me a better coach and most importantly a better parent. I think this fits right in with that. Thank you.

  187. 380

    bfish says

    Thank you. I am starting to use those six words today and for the rest of my life. I love that you posted this great advice.

  188. 382

    CJ says

    Good story and a great principle. But, I’m wondering, after seizing the moments with your daughters to tell them the six words right then and there when the emotion welled up inside you, why did you not seize the moment with your husband and tell him the six words right then and there? Instead you kept them in your brain and typed them later, to give to him yet later when the right moment appeared. Kind of contradictory at the end.

  189. 383

    JoAnn Blackburn says

    When I was 19, I was part of a folk dance troupe. We were small and obscure and modestly talented, but I loved what we were doing. As I was packing up for a performance, I said to my dad, I know you love me, but just once I would like to hear you give me an “atta girl” with no addendum, no “buts”. He came, he watched and he said, “That was great, I don’t think you have to apologize to anybody”. From my dad this was high praise. Even though I primed the pump, it felt really good.

  190. 384

    says

    Awesome! Love what you write! This has been our message working with kids with Autism…put the therapies aside momentarily…breathe…relax…play…create… BE…Love them just the way they are…Love You just the way you are…
    Beautiful – thank you!
    ps – I love to read your writings ;)

  191. 386

    says

    Thank you. I am long winded…in everything I do and say and I needed to know this. My daughter will be performing next weekend and I will say those words, because I mean it.

  192. 387

    says

    I LOVE to read what you write :)
    ….and also being wordy by nature I can not, not, elaborate! I love to read what you write so much that I share it with all of my friends & find myself coming back to your blog multiple times in the same day to reread what you wrote. Thank you for writing.

  193. 388

    says

    Tears are streaming down my face as I read through this post. THANK YOU. I have been praying for a way to love my children more richly, more deeply, more simply and just plain more. Your words came as an answer to prayer as I muddle through day to day & desperately seek the joy all around me, an absolute answer to prayer. Thank you thank you thank you.

  194. 389

    Helen says

    Thank you for teaching me new ways to approach my children with praise ,without turning it into a novel!!.

  195. 390

    says

    Another amazing post. My little one is only 11 months, but I hope that I can save this in my back pocket for all the things that I know that she will do, so that I can remember these 6 words. I try to think back to my parents who were always very supportive of my activities, but I do not think they ever said this. So simple, so meaningful. Thank you thank you thank you. I love to watch you write, you are certainly an inspiration to me!!

  196. 392

    Kathleen says

    Thank you for this article. I am a mother of a competitive cheerleader. We are often criticized because people think of stage moms or the television show Dance Moms. There is some of that drama but at the end of the day, I love to watch my daughter cheer! It’s something we do together and I love the trips where we have made so many good memories. I practiced last night and said “I love to watch you cheer. It makes me happy.” I am a little wordy too so this was the shortest I could possibly do. My daughter said me too and I noticed she talked just a little longer to me and was a little more open. My daughter is 11 and I usually get short answers that leave me more questions that usually go unanswered. My goal as a parent has always been to raise an independent, well adjusted….blah, blab child but what I really want for my daughter is to have a good, healthy self-esteem. I don’t mean an ego but a love for herself, to know her worth. I believe if she loves herself then she will have empathy for others, she will make good choices etc. Thank you for helping get closer to that goal.

    • 393

      says

      I love what you wrote about raising a daughter with a positive, healthy self-esteem–“a love for herself” which will spill out in compassion for others. I think you are very wise and I appreciate you sharing your story. It is lovely.

  197. 394

    says

    I was brought to tears reading this.

    I have two grown sons, one, the older, who has always been close to me, and the younger, who has always been more distant.

    Oh, how I long to be closer to my younger son, but it seems that no matter what I say or do, it never comes across in the way I intended. It’s like we’re on different wavelengths.

    I love him and I am so proud of him. I have told him these things many times, but I’m not sure he really believes me.

    The most recent conversation I had with him was during a phone call on Father’s Day. Near the end, he apologized for steering the conversation toward a more negative subject matter, but I couldn’t have cared less. I was having a conversation with my boy! I said, “No need to apologize! I just love talking with you.”

    Six words. I just love talking to you.

    I hope those six words sunk in. I really do. I love him so much.

  198. 395

    says

    This brings me back to what was my parenting Bible for ages 0-5 “The Portable Pediatrician.” The author’s first solution to every parenting issue was: have you sat with your child, one-on-one, for 15 mintues today, doing what *they* want to do?” For us, that’s meant a lot of sitting on the floor, driving matchbox cars back and forth – one might think “ad nauseum” but really, opening to their input instead of mine has often been relaxing. Going at their pace, with no correction from me allowed, challenged me but was also a great blessing. It’s along the lines of “I love to watch you play” – it’s saying, I choose to be with you, and it’s not about doing important things, it’s just being together because we are both worth it.

    So whether the issues were biting or not going to sleep or whatever rut the kids were in, before we did anything, we went back to the basic 15 minutes one-on-one, their time, their way. And it was amazing how often that cracked things open so that we could later deal with issues.

    The reality is that having more than one kid makes it hard to get that one-on-one time, but when I found myself wanting to correct this or that, the first and best step was to give them 15 minutes. Time and again.

  199. 396

    TR says

    Oh, I love this! What a great idea. I still remember after basketball games, when my dad would tell me all the things I should have/could have done better or differently. I know he was only trying to help, but to 8th grade me all I heard was that the good things I had done just weren’t good enough! We have soccer coming up for my 4-year-old, and I will definitely be remembering these words for him. And I love the idea of applying it to more than just sports!

  200. 397

    Rachel says

    I completely agree with one of the first commenters that said “I love to watch you write”. I LOVE IT TOO! Every post I have read has been completely inspiring. Please keep writing and helping me be a better person and a better mom for any future kids I have (just got married a month and 17 days ago!). :)

  201. 398

    Murphy says

    Rachel, Wonderful article! I would often tell our son Erik, “I am very proud of you!” I was very blessed to be able to watch most of his soccer & lacrosse games. And I would tell him, “I love you!” My wife and I have seen hundreds of sports events, plays and so many things teenagers do. We see teens as a blessing in our lives. I like your 6 words. Telling them “I love to see you play” is a wonderful encouragement. I have often had teens thank me just for being there – they do notice what we adults say & do. I have been a volunteer youthleader for 35 years (I’m 66) and I have gotten more out of it than I have put in. Thanks for the inspirational words. It’s sad for teens whose parents are critical of the team, the coach, the officials and even their own daughter or son. I am thankful that teens still want me around. Godbless, Murphy

  202. 400

    says

    Absolutely beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing your heart with the masses and with us. We feel blessed to have read this and it brought tears to my eyes (Felicia). I wish I would’ve done this for my boys when they were growing up. Now they are grown with kids of their own. I was like you were I would say too much, but from this point forward I will just keep it simple and straight from the heart for them as well as our precious grandchildren. Very inspiring and moving.. We love these 6 simple words and love reading your post! Will bookmark your site for future reference. :)

  203. 402

    Lisa says

    Thank you for this! It’s so beautifully stated, and such a great life lesson. I’ve found myself repeating the line from the book “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch to my son every night, and he just loves it. I think the more we can pass these loving messages along to our children, the better. Thanks!

  204. 404

    says

    So many parents I know don’t want to say, “Good Job,” but they struggle with what TO say. What are the words to use to encourage, motivate, and share in the experience. They are here in this post. And yes, we ALL need to hear them. Beautifully done!

  205. 405

    says

    Wow, I had to sit for a minute before typing as I couldn’t see the screen! Darn, leaky eye, heart on my sleeve mama kind! That so touched me and I know I am of the waffley variety, so I will take that thought, that lesson, those six little words and remember to use them next time I want to ‘over-explain’ to my kiddos how great they are, or how there’s just a little more they could be doing. I hear you and I trust, that my little people will hear me too, when I take this lesson I’ve learnt and use it. Thank you, from one mama’s heart to another, for sharing ‘a little bit of you’. Hugs, Wends x

  206. 406

    Mellany says

    Thank you for this article. I am the mother of 3 beautiful children, 2 girls, one boy. My daughters are dancers, I’m afraid I’ve been turning into a “dance mom”, pushing them too hard, at times being too critical. Every time my daughters walk onto the stage and begin dancing during their recitals I cry, because I love to watch them dance. Now I’ll be sure I tell them. Thank you!

  207. 407

    Leighann says

    It’s 1:52 in the morning, and I’m awake. Insomnia and I are occasional friends, so it’s not unusual that I’ve been thinking about parenting, and me-ing, and the blog I’m going to write because, heck, I went to school for writing and the most I’ve done in 7 years is on Facebook and email, and I opened my email to find that blog I kinda started but not really on WordPress and I came upon your post “How to Fill a Child Up.” I reread it because we loved your idea of the warm fuzzy jar, and I’m reading again to get all excited again and the light bulb goes off … How is it we are doing it all wrong? How did I miss the part where the people who do the helpful stuff put the ball in themselves? How did I manage to rob my children of the pride and self satisfaction of making a helpful choice? How did I manage to turn something so positive and self-affirming into yet another game of Figure Out How to Do It Right So You Can Get Rewarded by Me? Wow! The light bulb is glaring! So I decided to peruse your blog some more – I’m past trying to sleep! Ha, take tha insomnia! – and discovered this beautiful post. And I’m weeping because I can’t wait to tell my 7 year old daughter these six words. I’ll have a hard time with the brevity part too, but gosh it is going to be worth the restraint!

  208. 408

    Bethany says

    I love this! I used it on my 3.5 year old after swimming lessons the other day– I said “I love to watch you swim” and she responded with a smile and said “I love to watch you stand”. Too cute!! I know I will get a lot of use out of this– thank you!

  209. 409

    Nina Rao says

    How lovely! I teared up more than once reading this. Your words opened up my heart. It’s never too late to utter these words to someone. Thank you for sharing this. This truly makes my morning! I will be forever changed by reading this.
    Love and Grace,
    Nina

  210. 411

    Khadija says

    I’m not sure I agree with this. while it’s a bit better than “good job”, which tells kids they are only as good as the things they do well, what “I love to watch you play” says is “your actions are responsible for my feeling happy”. A better thing to say might be, “you look really happy when you are playing ukelele” This focuses the child back on the child, not on our opinion of them, which makes kids want to do good for parents, not for themselves. Not my opinion only btw, it’s part of my Montessori training to not place judgement on what or how a child does. Another example is “I see you used red and blue in your picture”, not: “what a good picture” or “I love it when you paint a picture”…

    • 412

      says

      I understand where you are going with your suggested phrase, but we all know that kids do crave their parents’ praise. The original sentence is praise of their effort…of their daring…instead of their placing or ability. I like your suggestion, but I also support the original, “I love to watch you play!”

  211. 413

    Mickey says

    Well, I just had an “ah-ha” moment. I never realized the reason I teared up watching my son play or do his karate was because “I love watching him play.” I always thought I was just being “silly” and would hide the tears, and my emotions. I know I’ve certainly never said it to him. But that will now change, I now have words to express my emotion. Thank you for this!

  212. 414

    says

    I just stumbled on this post again after reading it a year ago…I had to post this time! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the reminder. Our kids have enough pressure that they don’t need any more from us!

    We are heading to our county fair with 2 cows and it is our last one. My boys will be graduating and moving on…and I am ready with what I want to say to them…what they need to hear from me….”I love to watch you show those cows!”

    Bless you, Hands Free Mama!

  213. 415

    Suzy says

    Thank you. I also thank you in advance from my kiddos who will most definitely benefit from this. I totally get the teary eyed thing. At ball games, at school functions, but my favorite is when my kids are playing with each other and I hear the belly laugh. You know, the one that can not be controlled or stopped…or faked for that matter. It is the sound of pure happiness and delight spilling out of their mouths. I am seriously going to incorporate this. Thank you again!

  214. 417

    John says

    One of my friends just shared this on Facebook. I have to say thank you. I know that I’ve felt those six words when watching my girls, but I can’t ever remember telling them. I know I’ve said, “I’m proud of you” (equally important), but never those six. My relationship with my oldest (almost 13) is strained at the moment, too. I think I’ll use these and see what changes it makes. Thank you so very much.

    Excellent writing, by the way. I’ll continue to follow your blog, even though I’m a dad. :)

  215. 418

    says

    I loved your blog. L.o.v.e.d. I am a competitive swim mom too and tear up every single time my son races. Every time. Like you-its not because of his place. It’s because I am amazed by his grace, his talent, his stamina. I am awed by his commitment and his hard work. And I a I very, very proud. Next race I am going to say: I love to watch you swim. Amy softball playing daughter will hear the same thing. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  216. 419

    Liz Best says

    Thank you. Simply put, I love to read your words. I love how I can hear your voice through your writing. I love how your writing connects with me. I love how your words remind me of what is important. Thank you, thank you for the impact you have made – and continue to make. Namaste.

  217. 422

    Eva says

    Hi Rachel and everyone,
    I was wondering if you can inspire me. My son is starting first grade and parents have been asked to write a message of encouragement on a hand-shaped piece of cardboard. Examples given are ‘you are great’ (sounds like cheap praise to me), ‘you can do it’ (sounds like you have to do something hard here) ‘you are going to have a great year’ (sounds like telling him he has tomhave a great year) or ‘I love you’ (overused). I would like something in the lines of ‘I love to watch you …’, as in ‘I like you for who you are, just be yourself’ meaning. But I am struggling to phrase it in a nice simple way, etc. Any ideas?
    Thank you

    • 423

      says

      Hi Eva,

      These are a few off the top of my head that as a teacher and mother I have said:

      You make me smile!
      You light up my life!
      You make every day better!

      I love who you are!
      I love to see you smile!

      You are important!
      You make a difference in this world!

    • 424

      says

      How about one I used on my 19 yr old son the other day…”I’m proud of the man you are becoming!” I know that is a bit “old” for your needs, but how about…

      I’m proud of you!
      I’m proud of your energy!
      I’m proud of how you work hard!
      I’m proud of who you are!

  218. 426

    Heidi says

    I LOVE HANDS FREE MAMA BLOG! That is my six words! I sure do love this and try to tell everyone about it and how beautiful it is and how much it hits home. I was wondering if you had 5 or 6 words that moms like us can say to ourselves if we feel overwhelmed, frustrated, upset, alone? It seems its powerful to children and like us moms we could use to hear something like that? Like a mantra of some sort to help them stop and take the situation in and say is it worth it, something to say out loud?

  219. 433

    says

    Thank you for this post! I read it awhile ago, and it has been a “game changer” and a blessing for me. I have 4 little ones, and my older two are 7 years (almost 8), and 5 years. I have used this line to talk about when they do their extra-curriculars and their chores around the house, and it has been so great to see how proud they are of what they have done. Thank you again, and blessings on your journey.

  220. 436

    Olga says

    Thank you for writing it…. I am a young (and have realised just now – not a very sensitive ) mother (by the way originally from Russia, living in UK)…. Constantly pushing my own son to do lots every day…. Thank you for explaining all those simple and extremely important things in your articles… You have made me to stop worrying and start watching my son being a happy child… Thank you once again for your wisdom and I wish you and your lovely family all the best…

  221. 437

    says

    Rachel,
    A friend posted several of your blog posts on Facebook. I cried reading the one about the inner bully and this one. I am a new mama of a 2-year-old. Your words touch me so deeply and are educating to be the kind of parent I want to be. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and wisdom so honestly and openly.
    Blessings,
    Margaret

  222. 438

    Leanne says

    I have just found this and have to say, I will be starting today. With four kids, I am never short of moments when pride and love overcome my sensibilities. Thank you for sharing this nugget of wisdom :)

  223. 439

    Shannon says

    It’s funny that I came across this post today, because I wrote one of those exact same notes to my husband about 3 years ago and found it on my computer today. I sent it to him again, just as a reminder of what I love about him. I think it made him feel good, but I know it made me feel good to tell him, because I don’t do it enough. Great post!

  224. 441

    says

    Thank you for this! I always try to encourage my daughters, but the statement “when I go into extensive detail about my child’s performance it could be misinterpreted as not being ‘good enough’ “made me pause. Really, “I love to watch you …” is enough!

  225. 443

    Michelle says

    I don’t feel like I always know how to say what I feel…. I also worry that I am not positive enough. I am so grateful for this new way to tell my children I love them! Thank so much! I love reading what you write and feel not so alone in my mothering journey.

  226. 444

    Nicole says

    I read the article of which you speak about a year ago, and man, did it hit a nerve. My husband and I both would go on and on with our son after his tee ball games(yes, he was 5) about what he did well, what he needed to improve on, etc. When I read it I cried because I felt like I had been ripping the joy right away from him. Anyhow, I sent the article to the Hubby and we have both made a point to always tell him how much we love to watch him play. I am so glad that you have shared this message with so many.

  227. 445

    says

    Hi Rachael

    You know…..As a grown man who loves his kids with all his heart. I have blown it so bad with my last one. On my older kids I was working all the time and I was never home and overly involved in everything else but them and by that…I don’t mean that I missed their sports but I was not obsessed with making them into my final masterpiece.

    And so as time would have it and I grew older, wisdom slowly grew into me as well and I realized this was the last child I was ever going to have of my own. So as it hit me, I went all out for him and I broke the bank, I devoted my entire life to helping him achieve his goals and from that I also spent every waking moment coming up with or trying to find him a new resource or instructor to help him excel at his sport.

    So here he is now… He is is in his Junior Year of High School and I have completely lost him to a girl who has totally revamped his entire way of thinking about everything and even instilled a whole lot of her poor pitful me ways in him as well. I mean she has affected him so greatly that it has even tarnished his desire and passion for the sport that he so dearly loved.

    So when I read this article, hot tear drops began running down my face and it made me look back in retrospect and deep thought and I wondered just how much of this was because of me….

    Yes I, like you, was the man in the stands who quickly wiped the tears running down my face when I overwhelmed with emotion at seeing him doing a great job or even accomplishing what I considered to be an unbelievable feat. And yes….There is nothing I love more than watching his shear talent for the game and it just blows me away.

    So now I find myself somewhere that I have never been before and it is a very uncomfortable place for me because, now I have find myself having to sit back in a total hands off mode because he actually has his mind elsewhere and yet this kid has the talent to go all the way but yet if I say anything to him it only drives him farther away and he also feels like he is protecting her from his mom and I.

    The girl he has chosen to be around has always been a quitter and even at the least opposition she drags up and cries poor pitiful, picked on little me and then she quits whatever she does.

    So reading this article was such a bittersweet thing to me, because although I praised him in the good times, I also was sometimes really harsh with him in the bad ones, because I knew he was capable of so much more. Do I wish I could have been like you and simply said and only said after every game… “I love to watch you play”. Wow that is such a huge observation of yours and it is so meaningful as well as it said in such simplistic words. And yes I did say those very words to him at times but never enough to overcome the bad ones and I know so much of it was because I blew it with his older brother and did not have the knowledge I needed to help him out and so I knew for a fact that this time was going to be different and yet all I did in all the effort and time and resources that I spent to help him out along the way was I became the parent you spoke of and I lost the son who was so very dear to me.

    You know as I feel these tears of deep sadness running down my face, I can dream and think about, if only time could be turned back two years and how the results could be so different… So now I get to be the Dad who sits in the stands in silence along with a very silent and broken heart, with so many dreams unfulfilled for his child who he gave so much to, because I simply did not know how to say those 6 simple words and leave it at that and do it enough to really matter.

    Wisdom… Such wisdom in your words and yet there are so many kids who are literally ruined every year by an overbearing sports mom or dad, with only good intentions…. But those intentions, although very earnest and well meaning, get so mis-interpreted by their young teenage son or daughter.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and maybe with a whole lot of God’s intervention and help and a whole lot of Grace extended towards me…. Maybe He will see fit to mend and bring back the relationship that we once had together. So with those six words of Wisdom and a whole lot of self-realization and wisdom coming from the school of hard knocks… Prayerfully with all of that together…We can do enough damage control and show him enough love that I can at least fade some of those bad memories and replace with them good ones and leave a lasting meaning for him about us. A meaning that he will one day cherish!!

    Many thanks to you….

    Rick Rankin

    • 446

      Murphy says

      Rick, I was sad reading your comments. I too regret things I said or did when my son was growing up. All I’d say is today is a new day. I changed and you can too. You may not be able to change the way your son thinks of you right now but you can change. My son is now 28 and doing well. We told him on his high school graduation day that he would now make all his decisions for himself. He has made a few mistakes but we have told him often that we love him and are proud of him. We had to let go if he was going to fly. Rachel has awesome wisdom. Try to do some of the things she suggests. Oftentimes young & old alike have to learn for themselves and sometimes it is painful. I will pray for you. Murphy.

    • 448

      says

      Rick, your message touches my heart deeply and I commend you for being so open and honest. I have to tell you, when I read your message, it was very apparent how much you love your children. The pride you have for them just shines through your words. Something tells me that you did a lot of things RIGHT as they grew even though you have a lot of regrets. In my personal experience, I apologized to my daughters for mistakes that I made in the past. I was surprised to find they had long forgiven me. I needed to forgive myself. With God’s strength and guidance, I was able to let go of past regrets and LIVE in today. It was a game changer. I truly believe that it is never too late to be the person you want to be. If you have a moment, I think you will find this post I recently wrote healing and hopeful: Who You Are Now Matters More http://www.handsfreemama.com/2014/01/14/who-you-are-now-matters-more/

      I wish you all the best. You have truly touched my heart and inspired me today. God bless you and your relationships with your precious ones.

  228. 449

    Anna C says

    This is truly beautiful. As a child of parents who may never have used these words, but who always teared up like that, I know the feeling that your daughters had. It’s great! Every child should have the chance to feel that way!

    I just wanted to say that there is plenty of educational research (which I, as a hopeful future educator am excited to read and learn from!) which says that more feedback is better for children’s skill development, that positive feedback is more useful to development than negative, and that the more specific the feedback (either positive OR negative) the better the child remembers it and the more quickly they improve and the more they are excited to persist in whatever endeavor prompted the feedback. So don’t stop being specific completely! (As you will see as soon as I post this, I am an over-wordy person too, so I imagine that like me, you will have no problem maintaining specificity in your feedback!) And newest to me, there is research to strongly suggest that it is best to praise virtues like effort and determination in kids, rather than talent, intelligence, or natural skill. Leading them to pursue challenges and look for methods to help improve when they struggle, rather than simply despairing at their apparently lack of talent/intelligence/skill.

    As I read your article, I thought about all the research I’ve alluded to above, and tried to decide whether they were at odds, and how I could make them not be. (Because I’ve definitely taken your words to heart. Too late to ignore them now!) But I needed to do nothing – they are for two different situations. Many times, parents can be helpful to their kids as coaches, instructors, teachers, who see all the things they are trying to do and be. (Athletes, actors, musicians, members of society, etc.) In those times, parents can be most effective with insightful, accurate, specific, positive effort-praising feedback.

    But there are also times to just be a parent. (Sometimes? Most of the time? All of the time? That’s for you parents to tell me.) And when I come to those times, it’s nice to know I’ll have something so simple as those six words to pull back out. I can’t wait to use them.

  229. 450

    Dawn Noble says

    I woke up early this Valentine’s morning to write love notes to my family. Some of the very exact things in your post (even for the hubby…down to the “I Love how you love us”)…as a mom, I am always checking to see what I can do better, have I remembered all the things I wanted to do as a mom, and am I doing them…this post was a perfect reminder that I’m doing well, and I thank you.

  230. 451

    says

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment.

    Is there a way you can remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

  231. 453

    Rose says

    wow, i wish i would have read this 26 years ago…my 5 are now 19, 22, 24, 27, & 29. i was wiping a tear from my eye as i read each “proaction” you had…wishing i could go back in time to say those words to my own kids…but even as young adults, i can being to say it now…thank you so much for your insight!!

  232. 454

    says

    My daughter sent me this article a week ago! I always loved watching her play.

    As I read your article about your swimmer & musician daughters, I teared up and then thought, the best one would be “I love to watch you laugh”… and then you wrote it about your husband! Great!

    Nice to have found you.

  233. 455

    says

    Rachel, I’ve just come across your blog via Suzanne @ 3 children and it and I love it. Your thinking is so similar to mine (the flavour of my blog is to alert people to perfectionist and comparative parenting and to resist it! My post The Good Enough Mums sums it up pretty well) and I’m very wordy too! And I so need to hear this about saying just 6 words, less is more, to my daughter when she plays her piano/viola/etc. So beautiful yet so true. I bet you’re a J in the Myers Briggs spectrum?! Like me…. anyway, thank you. I also have to say, i can’t believe quite how many comments you have – it took me about 15 secs to scroll down to start typing mine! Incredible. Way to go. I’ll be checking you out in future…Sx

  234. 456

    says

    The teenage years can be very difficult for most young people especially when drug addiction and/or alcohol addiction is in part of their daily lives. If your teen is abusing drugs, alcohol or any other substance a teen addiction rehab call play a very important role in helping him/her their life back on track.

  235. 457

    David McCune says

    So true. I learned this a bit late, and I spent way too many post-game moments trying to be a motivator/coach. Kids don’t want or need that from their parent, it doesn;t work, and it turns the post-game car ride into a battle zone.

    I love to watch you play.

    I just wish I had a time machine to go back about 15 years to tell my younger self.

  236. 459

    says

    I tend to stress when my little one can’t catch up in h er dance or swimming classes so I REALLY needed to read this today. My almost 4 year old will have her last dance class of the year, rehearsal is next week and recital next weekend. She loves her dance class but being so young (she’s the only three year old left in the group) her attention span is limited, she’s very playful and distracted and has issues with some of her gross motor skills are still not very developed; she has struggled with swimming too and running… OK well, toddler sports so far are not her forte, but SHE TRIES. And I need to remember to tell her I love to watch her dance and skip and sing and play and have fun trying to swim or run and SMILE, she’s only 3, what am I thinking?! Thank you!

  237. 460

    says

    I love WHAT you write!
    each day I am trying to be a better mom & wife!
    I feel like I have wasted so much time….but, moving forward!
    Your words inspire me!
    Thank you

  238. 461

    Kelly says

    I haven’t read the comments but … I wonder if this phrase is as enabling as it is touching and reassuring. For example, I’ve said this to my daughter many times about her reading and playing with her little brother. And I see now after reading this that there are lots of other areas I could say this. But my middle child, who loves to dance at home, is afraid to take dance lessons, as much as she would love to. I finally signed her up to start this summer but I know she is afraid. I wonder if a simple, “I love to watch you dance” would help her have the confidence to learn. It’s certainly worth a shot!

  239. 462

    Josée says

    Wow! I love your blog…and I don’t even have any kids… but plenty of love for my nieces and nephews! My godchild is hip hop dancing, and just recently, she had her big, end of season, show. I had tears running down my face as soon as she did her first move on stage…priceless! The first thing I told her after was “I only had eyes for you” She is so beautiful, I love to watch her dance! ;)

  240. 463

    Angel says

    A wonderful, wonderful post! Your blog is so inspiring and real. Please don’t hesitate to hit “publish”. Please continue to share with us. We love your stories and insights.

  241. 465

    libbywilko says

    Ali Edwards linked this post today and I’m so very grateful for the link.. Your blog post really spoke to me… I watched my boys in running club today and tonight I really reflected on how I was as a parent , cheerleader & how I could have been better for them…. to make them feel more loved , secure, proud and happy . I also thought about how I can be more intentional about how I react & show them that positivity during/after doing their activities… And not just my boys our whole family . Thank you!

  242. 468

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] few weeks back I read a beautiful post Rachel Macy Stafford titled “Six Words You Should Say Today“. This post reminded me how often our words as parents and adults tend to correct or instruct [...]

  2. [...] Hands Free Revolution is in my head all the time, but only in the best of ways. When I’m in the middle of playing with my son and feel the itch to reach for my phone, I think of her and usually–I wish I could say always!–choose real joy over fleeting gratification. She’s only made an appearance here once before, but she’s a constant presence in both my heart and my words to my son. [...]

  3. [...] Hands Free Revolution occupies my head all the time, but only in the best of ways. When I’m in the middle of playing with my son and feel the itch to reach for my phone, I think of her and usually–I wish I could say always!–choose real joy over fleeting gratification. She’s only made an appearance here once before, but she’s a constant presence in both my heart and my words to my son. [...]

  4. [...] This post explains that these six words might change my life.  A friend posted it on facebook this afternoon, and I almost didn’t click.  I have things to do—that’s, um, why I’m on the internet in the first place—and how often does Facebook sharing make the “life-changing” claim?  So, friend, you’ll need to specify: are we talking about the kind of life change that occurs when you realize that a coworker eats bacon with his chocolate?  Or is it the kind that means you can Lose Stubborn Belly Fat in 10 Days?  [...]

  5. […] 4.  And lastly, I want to point you toward a great essay written by Hands Free Mama about taking the pressure off of your performing kids, athletic or otherwise.  Coming from many years of coaching softball I know how pressured kids can feel to perform well even when you think you’re being a supportive parent or coach.  I also know how that pressure can kill their enjoyment and eventually lead to them giving up the sport or instrument or endeavor all together.  Usually that leads to lots of free time, time usually spent getting into trouble.  I love this essay and the responses she receives from her kids when she speaks the “Six Words You Should Say Today“. […]

  6. […] That decision was a great relief, an end to months of internal wrestling and ceaseless dialogue. I wanted, finally, to fall on one side of the fence; I hoped to escape, with a word—No!—the battles and the stress and the painful uncertainty of no-right-answer. My choice was months in the making, but the related blog post came quickly, inspired by those beautiful words shared by Rachel Macy Stafford, I Love to Watch You Play. […]

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