“You are okay.”
Three seemingly benign words which are often unconsciously used with children in an effort to soften wrongs. However, the unintended message of these words can be “Your experience is not valid” or “Your feelings are not worthwhile.” A child falls and scrapes his knee or spills her juice on the floor, there is an instinct to contain the situation, to prevent a large emotional response – crying, yelling, screaming, tantruming – and thus, “You are okay.” But it is so important to development, not to dampen emotional expression. Emotional intelligence – the ability to identify, verbalize, and tolerate a range of emotions in both ourselves and others – is a priceless skill set which can be cultivated from an extremely early age. Rather than saying “You are okay” in an effort to avoid the potential emotional response, embrace that your child is not okay.