Confidently support your child's academic and emotional growth
Support your child's academic and emotional growth with confidence

One Little Wording Change to Empower Your Child

We’ve all been there – those days when you’re talking to your child as you always do, having what you think is a normal conversation and then all of a sudden the conversation takes a turn you didn’t expect or your child breaks down and you have no idea why. Or you now realize why but you didn’t intend for that to happen at all.

More often than not, moments like these happen because of the little words and phrases that we use with our kids that send unintended subtle signals.

The good news is, if you are intentional with your language, you CAN limit or even stop these unintended breakdown moments.

And today I’ve got an awesome little phrase for you to memorize and start using all the time.

It’s just one little sentence, but it can make all the difference!

I promise… Once you start using this phrase and see the difference in the reaction you get from your children, you will wonder how you ever managed to live without it!

Are you ready? It is… {Drumroll, please…}

“You are ready for…”

Okay, are you thinking “What?? Have you lost your mind, Allison? ‘You are ready for’ is really going to change the way my kids respond to me and make a difference in our lives?” Even if it just sounds too simple, my answer is still an emphatic “YES!”


Hear me out: When we realize our kids haven’t mastered something, have something to learn or need to figure out a new concept, we almost always phrase it as something they need to do or have to learn.

When doing that, the underlying, however-subtle message is “It doesn’t matter what you’ve learned or done so far in your life. You need to figure this out. I’m disappointed you don’t know how to do this. You need to learn to do this.”

There’s also a subtle element of I’m-telling-you-what-to-do-in-your-life, and we all know no kid is a fan of that — and that some kids can really push back when they feel anything along those lines. And then you have a power struggle on your hands which means everyone’s day is going straight downhill.

So how is “you are ready for” different? Well, its underlying connotation is that “You have achieved things and worked hard and now you get to learn and do this new thing. Because you have gained everything you need to know before you can do this new thing, you are ready for it.”

The wording has a sense of I-am-proud-of-you about it. It makes kids feel empowered and supported in trying something new and lends a sense of excitement about being big enough, grown-up enough and knowledgeable enough to be able to tackle something they haven’t before.

This phrase will not trigger a power struggle or cause kids to fall into self-esteem traps. It will not cause them to push back and fight having to do this new thing.

However, it will cause them to feel excited about being grown up enough to take on something they are finally “ready for”!


Also, if the growth mindset movement that is all the rage these days is something you have heard about or are into, this phrasing fits in perfectly with growth mindset concepts!

At its core, “You are ready for” is all about being proud of everything you have achieved and knowing those achievements have given you the skills to be able to continue to grow and learn.

It also strongly ties in with the growth mindset tenet that no one is ever done learning and that there is a lifetime of fun growth ahead of us.

As a full disclaimer, the particular phrase “you are ready for” isn’t something I made up myself. Over the years, I’ve heard it mentioned in passing at a couple different teacher trainings I’ve attended. The rhetoric and communications major in me, who is always analyzing wording and figuring out how to phrase things “just right”, loved it instantly.

Once I’d tried it a few times, I was completely hooked and made it my mission to use this phrase in any appropriate situation both with my children at home and with my students in the classroom.


Here are some “wording makeovers” showing how you can take a standard way of talking to your child and re-phrase it with “you are ready for”.

Old WayNew Way
You need to learn how to tie your shoesYou are ready to learn to tie your own shoes
Your report card shows you don’t know how to do triple-digit additionYou are ready to figure out triple digit addition
I really wish you’d learn to stop leaving clothes on the floor and put them in the laundry basketYou are ready to be able to put your clothes in your laundry basket all by yourself
You should learn how to ride your bike without training wheelsWow! You are ready to try riding your bike without training wheels
You need to memorize the first grade sight words listYou are ready to memorize words from your first grade sight word list
You aren’t good at reading out loud; You should practiceGuess what? You are ready to learn how to read out loud
I notice that your lowercase r’s are really sloppyYou are ready to write your lowercase r’s like a grown-up second grader


You know what? I know you are ready to use this phrase with your children! (See what I did there? Wink, wink)

Isn’t that better than me saying “You are wording things all wrong and really need to learn a new way to do this” — That doesn’t feel at all as encouraging or really make you want to take on the challenge, does it?

What situations can you think of where “you are ready for” will come in handy? Is there anything more you’d like to know about this? I’d love to hear from you!

With warmth & encouragement,

I'm Allison Blair, and I’m so honored you are here. I am a teacher at heart who can never pass up an opportunity to share information with someone. Luckily, that teaching compulsion comes in handy — I am a first-grade teacher of over 15 years, a teaching/parenting blogger and (most importantly!) a mom of two little ones. I have especially strong passions for: • early literacy learning and classroom and home libraries • creating a love of learning and reading in children • behavior management and child development • building classroom communities and family closeness • using purposeful teacher and parent word choice with children You've already got the love. Now here's the background knowledge you need to support your child's academic and emotional growth and create a strong family connection. I'm here to ease your mind and help you confidently raise your children in the way you've always wished you could. Welcome!

Comments (1)

  • mommydearest

    I love the phrase! I wish I had it when I was teaching. I will be using it with my grandsons.


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