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15 Phrases to Say at Bedtime That Fill Your Child’s Cup

Every parent knows the instance when you’ve done ALL the things — tucked your kids in, sang the song (thrice), prayed the prayer, got the water, had them pee, and still. STILL. As you leave their rooms, you hear, “Hey Mommy, what’s the meaning of life?” Yes, we’ve all been there. Staring into the wide-awake eyes of your little one, wanting to connect with you just a little bit longer.

father and son bedtime

Bedtime can be a sweet time to connect with your kids and pour truthful words into them that they ruminate on as they fall asleep. Because your voice becomes your child’s inner voice, telling them how you see them and feel about them in detail is an incredible way to nurture a peace-filled environment, one where your child feels safe to be themselves.

Spend less time trying to control bedtime and more time listening

But bedtime can also be an incredible time to just lay with them and LISTEN. Try saying nothing at all. See what they come up with. What questions do they ask? I do this with my 4-year-old, and he will share just about every little detail about his day, down to how many turds he pooed out.

I once heard that parents shouldn’t make a big deal about bedtime for fear that their kids will milk it for all it’s worth down the road. And while they might do that at times, there is a reason they do it. Because your child feels connected to you in those pre-bedtime moments, they want it to last forever. It’s not necessarily because they want to stay up later. And while giving bedtime routines a little more attention might cause some frustrating parenting moments in the future, it shouldn’t cause us to avoid them altogether.

These moments can also create opportunities to teach your child self-regulation and impulse control. By allowing some nights to be extra special and others to be a quick, “let’s get to bed because it’s late,” you present to them situations where they don’t always get what they want, and that’s okay.

Parents, we can’t avoid certain battles with our kids. They will arise. One of the biggest lies of our culture is making us think that parenting should be easy, our kids always obedient, and our bedtimes always smooth. But that’s not reality. And waking up to the fact that things won’t always go OUR way sooner than later will help us regulate our own emotions and expectations.

Check out more on how to help your child fall asleep peacefully.

mother and daughter smiling

Bedtime gratitude check

Bedtime can also be a great way to help your child see the good in their life, which instills gratitude. As a Christian, bedtime is also a time for us to reflect on God’s goodness; to thank Him for the many blessings we have. Incorporating that into bedtime is a great way to encourage your kids in their own faith journey.

Here are some phrases that will leave your child feeling confident in your and God’s love for them and in who God has created them to be.

But also make sure to create space for them to just talk about whatever is on their minds, with no questions for prompting. You might be surprised how they fill the silence.

Things to say at bedtime to make your child feel special

family laughing

“I love being your parent.”

As a parent, we sometimes forget the privilege that comes along with parenting the precious gifts we’ve been given. We get caught up in the daily grind and let our correction overrule our connection. But the truth is, your children need to know you enjoy being their parent. You also need to remind yourself that to love being a parent is often a choice we need to make. Love is a choice, not a feeling.

If we governed our parenting based on our feelings, we would be terrible parents. And a great was to remind yourself and your children is to say the words at bedtime, “I love being your parent.”

family hugging

“I missed you today when you were at school.”

Along with your kids knowing you love to be their parents, they also need to know that you miss them. Everyone loves to be missed. When I tell my kids this, their little eyes light up, knowing that I enjoy them so much that when they’re away, I miss them.

“I’m proud of who you are.”

Parents sometimes get caught up in saying they are proud of their children when they’ve accomplished something, like winning a trophy or getting an A on their report card. But what if we let our kids know that we are proud of them simply because of who they are. They NEED to hear these words and hear them often.

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“Can you name 3 things you’re grateful for today?”

Having gratitude in life will benefit your children in many ways — emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. A great way to guide them in being grateful for the blessings in their life is to discuss those things before bed. It helps them get their mind on the positive things in life, which before bed and dreaming is beneficial also for their sleep.

“God has created someone so special in you.”

Your children are unique and special just the way they are. They need to hear the details of those qualities and characteristics. “Your eyes are a reflection of God’s creativity. They are so blue and sparkly!” Or. “Your smile lights up the room. I love seeing your beautiful smile.”

Parents and kids talking

“I love it when you share your ideas with me.”

Our children need assurance that they have good ideas. This encourages critical thinking and entrepreneurship, which in our home are valued.

“I’m so thankful for you.”

Along with helping them see the blessing to be thankful for, your kids also need to hear what you’re grateful for, especially them. Children are treasures from God and need to hear this voiced often.

“I love being around you. You’re so awesome.”

Just as much as your kids need to know your unconditional love for them, they also need to know you unconditionally LIKE them. That means no matter how hard it’s been to be their parent lately, they still need to know you like and enjoy them. Again, we sometimes have to separate our feelings from our choices. You might be thinking this is disingenuine. But we need to realize that when we make good choices, our feelings often follow suit.

Also, if you treat your child like a burden, they will become a burden. We need to treat our children like who God sees them as. They are imperfect children who need the same grace from us that we so generously receive through Christ daily. At the end of the day, we are no better than our children. We mess up just as much as them and sin just as much as they do.

When we see our children as just as much in need of grace as we are, our perspective changes.

“Nothing would EVER change my love for you.”

Unconditional love. That’s what this is. It’s not based on their performance or perfection, it’s based on the fact that they are your child and you love them, despite the mistakes they will make. This is the love that God shows us and expects us to show others in return.

family eating dinner

“Nothing would EVER change God’s love for you.”

When we show our children our unconditional love, it models for them a healthy understanding of love and will help them better grasp God’s love for us. But because we are imperfect human beings, we will fail our children. Ultimately, God’s love for our kids will sustain them far beyond what we could ever do and be for them.

That’s why teaching your children about God’s perfect love for them will be the greatest gift you could ever give them.

“You matter to me.”

Along with SAYING these words, it’s more important to SHOW your child they matter to you with your actions. Staring at your phone while your child is trying to show you something or share about their day is not showing your child they matter to you; it’s saying that your phone is more important to them.

Unfortunately, the unhealthy use of iPhones is a relationship killer, not the iPhones themselves. We still have the choice of whether or not to allow our devices to ruin our relationships. Verbalizing and showing our children they matter to us has much to do with our priorities. Make sure they know they matter to you.

kids doing chores

“Thanks so much for all your help today. I really appreciate you.”

My son is so helpful around the house. This became more clear to me after I had surgery. He really stepped up and helped me out when. I couldn’t use my arms for anything. So I made sure he knew how much I appreciated him. I literally couldn’t have managed without him.

Our kids need to hear that we’re grateful for their help around the house. They need to hear we appreciate them doing their chores. Don’t forget to tell them!

“I love laughing with you.”

Never underestimate the power of having fun as a family. Adults have a great way of sucking the fun out of things, especially when we constantly correct instead of making light of certain challenging situations. If your child struggles with wanting to brush their teeth, make a game out of it. Say, “I’ll race you to the bathroom!”

So many times when I make light of a situation, I avoid confrontation with my child. Not to say that you should do this all the time. Kids need to also learn that when you say something, they need to listen.

dad reading book to kids

“I saw that you were being kind to your brother today.”

Notice when your children succeed, even in the little things. We can get caught up in constant correction throughout the day and note what our kids are doing wrong instead of noting what they do right. Combat this by saying more about what they do right than wrong.

“I like it when you share your heart with me. I am always here to listen.”

Your child needs to know that you’re there, ready to listen to everything they have in their hearts. The more you actively listen to their hearts, the more they will share and continue to do so as they age. It’s a common misconception that teenagers no longer want to speak to their parents.

To some extent, there will be more sharing with friends as they get older, but kids, even teens, should always feel safe to share their hearts with their parents. If not, then somewhere along the way, we made them feel uncomfortable to do so. To avoid this, always reassure them that you’re there to listen, and sometimes that means we have to ONLY do that and not try and force our opinions or direction down their throats.