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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices

Lavish Kids with Kind Words

Child abuse is a serious social problem. In 1992, more than 1.7 million children were abused by their parents or other caregivers, and about 5,000 children died of this abuse. Most people think of child abuse as something physical, resulting in severe injuries and death. Yet, there is a more common and just as serious form of child mistreatment that occurs without touching the youngster - verbal abuse. This type of abuse takes many forms: humiliating, berating, embarrassing, ridiculing, name-calling, criticizing, ignoring, and other words that frighten a child or otherwise inhibit healthy development.

Examples of verbal abuse include:

  • A 10-year old brings home his report card. The parent’s look at it with disgust. "This is awful! You are the dumbest child we know. How stupid can one child be? I know you will never amount to anything."

  • A mother spots her teenager going out the door. "Where are you going with your hair looking like that? It is so ugly. It looks terrible, do something about it. I would not be caught dead looking like that."

  • Charles is sending a letter to his grandmother. "Oh Charles, look at that awful handwriting. Any why can’t you make your lines straight? And look at all those misspelled words."

  • A mother is putting food on the table. Her daughter asks to help. Mom replies, "Oh I don't think so. You are so clumsy. You are always dropping things."

  • A father leaves work to watch his son’s Little League game. The youngster has a chance to win the game in the last inning but strikes out. Crying, he walks over to his dad. Frustrated, the father says, "Go home with your mother. I cannot believe I left work early to be around a loser. Stop crying - I cannot stand crybabies."

Parents must treat their children with the same kind of respect that they would give a friend or a stranger. Remember, children need to feel that they are just as important as - even more important than - any other person that their parents care about. No one likes to be ridiculed, terrorized, or embarrassed. Eventually, children scarred from verbal abuse become rebellious, disrespectful, unmotivated, delinquent, and disregard their parents’ values. But the major effect of psychological abuse is the loss of the child’s self-esteem and self--confidence.

Self esteem is the way a person feels about themselves and how much they like themselves. If children have a strong self-esteem and self-image, they feel worthwhile. This feeling will in turn influence almost every other aspect of their lives. Having or not having self-esteem can mean the difference between a child who feels loved, valued and optimistic, and a child who has a need to misbehave, make trouble and feel inadequate.

Self-esteem and self-confidence develop during childhood through the respect and confidence given to a child by their parents, teachers, and other adults. A child’s self-confidence and self-esteem are determined by the amount of positives and negatives a youngster receives. Therefore, parents have a clear choice: they can concentrate on their child’s beauty and specialness, or than can reflect on their child’s flaws and shortcomings. Praise and flattery boost and nurture a child’s self-esteem while persistent criticism teaches a child to be critical while developing a low self-worth.


Wow · Way To Go · Super · You’re Special · Outstanding · Excellent · Great · Good · Neat · Well Done · Remarkable · I Knew You Could Do It · I’m Proud Of You · Fantastic · Super Star · Nice Work · Looking Good · You’re On Top Of It · Beautiful · Now You’ve Got It · You’re Incredible · Bravo · You’re Fantastic · Hurry For You · You’re On Target · You’re On Your Way · How Nice · How Smart · Good Job · That’s Incredible · Hot Dog · Dynamite · You’re Beautiful · You’re Unique · Nothing Can Stop You Now · Good For You · I Like You · You’re A Winner · Remarkable Job · Beautiful Work · Spectacular · You’re Spectacular · You’re Darling · You’re Precious · Great Discovery · You’ve Discovered The Secret · You Figured It Out · Fantastic Job · Hip, Hip Hurray · Bingo · Magnificent · Marvelous · Terrific · You’re Important · Phenomenal · You’re Sensational · Super Work · Creative Job · Super Job · Fantastic Job · Exceptional Performance · You’re A Real Trooper · You Are Responsible · You Are Exciting · You Learned It Right · What An Imagination · What A Good Listener · You Are Fun · You’re Growing Up · You Tried Hard · You Care · Beautiful Sharing · Outstanding Performance · You’re A Good Friend · I Trust You · You’re Important · You Mean A Lot to Me · You Make Me Happy · You Belong · You’ve Got A Friend · You Make Me Laugh · You Brighten My Day · I Respect You · You Mean The World To Me · That’s Correct · You’re A Joy · You’re A Treasure · You’re Wonderful · You’re Perfect · Awesome · A+ Job · You’re A-OK · My Buddy · You Made My Day · That’s The Best · A Big Hug · A Big Kiss · Say I Love You! P.S. Remember, A Smile and a Hug are Worth a 1,000 Words.

Avoid verbal abuse and treat your child with the same kind of respect you would treat friends or strangers. You can find out what kind of picture your child has painted for himself by watching their behavior. If the child feels good about themselves, they will be friendly, outgoing, and self-confident. They will not have a need to misbehave or act out in a negative way.

Remember to praise a child's strengths and achievements. Even though children sometimes appear to dismiss parental comments, they still need their approval. And a child who has their parents' approval can accept others' opinions with confidence and grace. The emotionally healthy child will become an adult who contributes, who possesses inner strength, who can withstand negative peer pressure, who is agreeable, and who is ready to face being an adult with confidence and maturity. Parents should always think about what they are saying to their children. Stop using words that hurt, and start using words that help.


As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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