mom-1363917_640Never underestimate the power of “I’m proud of you!” Sometimes it can be more powerful than “I love you.” I think for the most part our kids know we love them. Sometimes the reminder they need is that we think they are awesome and they’re growing into great people. That’s where, “I’m proud of you” comes in.

I’m thirty-six years old and I can’t remember the last time I heard those words. Not from my mother or my father, but not because they didn’t say it all the time because they did. It’s because they’ve both been gone for a long time.

I can’t believe how much I wish I could hear them say those words to me in my darkest moments. The moments I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision, the moments people are angry with me or don’t like my choices, and the moments I feel like I’ve screwed everything up.

I also miss it when I achieve a big goal or do something well. When I finished my book I wished so much to pick up the phone and tell my mom.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quick to correct my children’s poor behavior, but I sometimes miss the opportunity to tell them how proud I am of them. Here are the top ten times to tell them.

1.When they play nicely with others.

I really wish it happened more often. Unfortunately, my children usually fight with each other A LOT.

2. When they’re anxious about school.

My daughter is especially prone to fits of anxiousness over tests, homework and school work. I get how her heart works. I have to tell her during these moments that I’m proud of her because she always tries her best and that’s all I’ll ever ask for.

3. When they help a friend or a stranger.

While my son isn’t always thoughtful when it comes to his older sister, he can be especially thoughtful to strangers. He suggests baking cookies for a neighbor who is always doing nice things for us. He’s also quick to hold doors for people anytime we go out in public.

4. When they stand up for a classmate.

A few years ago my daughter stood up to some classmates who were teasing another classmate who had poor handwriting. When her teacher told me at a parent/teacher conference I was over the moon proud of her. I know how hard it is to stand up to others when you don’t know if it will make you a target of ridicule the next time.

5. When they find the solution themselves.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of solving your kids’ problems for them. Watching them have their “aha moments” when something clicks and they figure out something for themselves is completely awesome.

6. When they do something without being asked.

It’s torture trying to get my son ready for anything – bed, school, to leave the house. Having him pick out his clothes the night before is certainly helping. When he comes down in the morning dressed and ready to go with his teeth brushed I’m so proud because it means he’s becoming more responsible.

7. When they help with a joyful heart.

My oldest daughter is fantastic about helping me with her little sister. If I ask her to grab me the pacifier, a diaper, or a change of clothes she never fusses about it. My son still whines if I ask him to help me, but every once in a while I see the same joyful eagerness to help clean up or do something for our family.

8. When they go the extra mile.

I still recall my dad going on and on about my doing extra credit work over the winter break when I was in school. I feel that way too when my kids do more than what is expected. My daughter will often do the extra credit assignments as well.

9. When they are disappointed in themselves.

Mistakes will be made, they will have poor test scores, or miss a goal at times. This is probably the most crucial time to tell them how proud you are of them. They need to know that when they aren’t proud of themselves, you’ll pick up the torch for them and still be their biggest fan.

 10. Just because they’re yours.

It’s easy to remember to say the words when your child hits a home run or wins a competition, but sometimes kids need reminding that you’re proud of them just because they’re yours.

That’s what I’m the most proud of, that I made these amazing little people. I’m proud of them because they are good kids and have great hearts. No matter how old your child gets, trust me, they need the reminder. I know I still do.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.