There Are Two Words Every Parent Needs To Start Using

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


If you are anything like me, you are inundated by all the parenting info out there, but at the same time can’t stop reading every blog and new psychologist suggestion out there.

And as you read this you are probably thinking, “Here I am, doing it again.”

But this time it is different, because it’s short, sweet, and effective – my favorite kind of parenting advice.

Raising kids during a pandemic brings new challenges that have increased the load of the already over-worked parent.

Homeschooling, no sports, and a limited support system can wreak havoc on our perfect plan for developmental success.

Stress and frustration often lead us to over-react or forget every important strategy to engage our children and communicate effectively.

Dr. Robyn Koslowitz, PhD., wrote the article “The 3-Letter Words Child Psychologists Love” for Psychology Today.

The article inspired Yahoo Lifestyle to reach out to Dr. Koslowitz and she shared some advice that we shouldn’t go another day without!

“Sometimes, parenting is so hard,” the psychologist writes, “we forget that there are simple changes we can make that can help. Language has a lot of power.”


The first word we need to get more familiar with when talking with children is “and.”

When we add two concepts together, we are showing our children that “Two seemingly contradictory things can be true at the same time,” she reminds us.

The two concepts we need to convey to a child after they have made a poor choice is 1) we love them no matter what AND 2) what they did is not ok.

Dr. Koslowitz uses the example:

You are a loving, gentle and kind person AND you need to learn we can’t ride on the dog.”

Our children are wonderful and beautiful in every way, AND they have things they still need to learn to be the best version of themselves in life.


The second word we need to incorporate into our parenting philosophy is “pre.”

The child guru tells us:

Children don’t change their behavior unless and until they are developmentally ready, or otherwise motivated, to do so.”

The word “pre” is to remind us how children are in a pre-change state at all times.

We have to learn to be patient with our children as they learn, grow, and develop.

They are not always going do it on our time, or at a convenient time, like when you really need them to put their shoes on and get in the car, but they will learn when they are ready and motivated.

Try to remove words like “irresponsible” and “disobedient” from your parenting woes, and replace them with “hope” and “growth.”


Speaking of words you should not say with your children, Koslowitz recommends never using “just” and “but.”

The word “just” assumes there is no effort in the action. “Just do your homework,” we might say to a child who is seemingly refusing to get the required work done.

However, the child may be having learning difficulties or distraction issues that hinder their ability to do the task you are demanding of them.

Instead, approach the issue as a helper and sympathizer to your child’s struggle, asking “How can I help you get this work done before dinner?”

The other forbidden word, according to the psychologist, in parenting is “but.”

She calls it the “negative flip side of ‘and.’”

The example Koslowitz uses brings clarity to the concept:

If you instead say, ‘He’s a wonderful boy, BUT he needs to work on his anger management skills,’ then the ‘BUT’ negates whatever came before it.”

Making a sincere effort to start using “and” instead of “but” will shift us into a more positive parenting state.

Changing the way we talk is not going to happen without some work, and definitely not overnight.

We are loving, diligent parents, AND we always have room to become better for the sake of our children.

Learning to grow and become a healthier individual is something we can enjoy right along side our children.