The Five Things Every Child Needs to Hear

Dr. John DeGarmo
5 min readNov 27, 2021

During my twenty years as a parent, I have had the pleasure of being a parent to over 60 children. Yes, 60 plus children; biological, adoptive, foster care, and homeless youth. Children from all walks of life, backgrounds, cultures, and appearances have come to live with me, and become a part of my family. During this time, I have discovered that there are some things, some words that every child needs to hear from their parents.

As Yehuda Berg once said, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

Words DO have power. Words Can heal, and they can hurt. Words can encourage, and they can destroy. The power we have when we speak is indeed significant, and can be life changing, mountain moving. Words of affirmation, of trust, and of compassion are building blocks in the life of a child. Words of patience, of kindness, and of love are essential to the well being, mental health, and emotional stability of each child.

As a parent, I understand that what I say to my children is detrimental to their development. Now, there are five things every child needs to hear from their parents. Let’s look at these.

1) I love you

Sadly, I have found over the years as a foster parent that so many children have never heard these three important words. Yet, these three words are the most important words that they need to hear. Indeed, one can never say “I love you,” to a child enough times. They need to and deserve to hear it several times a day. “I love you,” reminds children that they are valuable, that they matter, and that someone truly cares for them.

2) I’m proud of you

Children need a cheerleader. They need to know that someone believes in them. They need to know that what they do matters. When you tell a child that you are proud of him, it only encourages them to work even harder. Celebrate each little success a child has, no matter how small it might be.

Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker