👩‍👦"Kids Prefer This>'You're Okay' "

(5 Minute Read) I caught myself replace saying "You're Okay" with these simple phrases that calms kids down SUPER QUICK!!

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"You're okay!" I hear a dad say to his little girl after she was just shoved down the slide by another child—clearly, she wasn't ready and was startled by the unexpected (and unwelcome) push. Her wails got louder with each attempt to pacify her with those two words.

I looked over at the little girl with empathy and shared, “I’d be upset too if someone just came up and shoved me down the slide.” Her cries softened and I could see a sense of relief come over her parents. The daggers that you get as a parent of small children when they cry can be brutal, so I was glad to see that this statement put everyone at ease.

Jimmy Fallon Ok GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

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I used to be a frequent user of that phrase, “You’re okay.” It rolled off the tongue, as if it were second nature. But I started to notice something: it wasn’t actually helping. In fact, it seemed to make things worse…WAY worse!

Have you ever noticed that? How more often than not, the phrase “You’re okay” leads to louder cries, hyperventilating, and longer lasting uncomfortable moments. I knew it couldn’t be just me, so I started observing other parents while out at the park with my kids, and the same pattern seemed to arise. It’s as if trying to pacify them amplified what they were feeling. But before we continue this conversation, go support the sponsor we love today, here’s a quick ad for them.

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It made me wonder why, so I did what I always do and thought about it in the context of being an adult. I thought about how I’d feel if I had stubbed my toe or had a really bad day at work and my husband looked at me and said, “You’re okay!” Although well-meaning, it would upset me. In moments like those, I typically either want validation or curiosity around what happened.

Telling someone, “You’re okay” does neither of those things. In fact, it can be quite dismissive of their experience and perceptions. It has undertones of “it’s no big deal.” Do we really know how they personally feel? No. Might we have an idea of how they feel? Absolutely! The great thing about having perspective is that it allows us to approach the situation with a more empathetic lens.

We know our children are going to be okay in those moments when they fall down and scrape their knee, have a meltdown because they want the blue cup instead of the red cup, or have a fallout with a friend. We know it’s not the end of the world and that life will go on. We want them to know they’ll be okay too. So, how do we do that? Through validation and curiosity.

Next time your toddler falls or your teen is telling you about a fight with a friend, try getting curious, “Are you okay?” Notice how a reframe of the SAME words starts to create a shift within the dynamic and creates space for your child to notice how they’re actually feeling. I LOVE this phrase because it prompts our children to pause and check-in with themselves to see if they’re okay or not. A skill that’s crucial as they continue to grow.

*Please give a gentle round of applause too…*

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