1) "No" - Unless your children have a pony, a trampoline instead of a bed and eat cake for dinner chances are you’ve told your kids “no” before. Hearing the word “no” sets boundaries. Your children need to know where they stand in your family and in the world. You are doing your children a disservice if you say yes to everything. Life beyond your home is going to be tough for them if they are used to always getting their way.
2) "I love you” - As dads, we show our love for our families more than we say it. We work overtime, get up early and sacrifice our wants for our families needs. Sometimes kids are not so adept and understanding your actions beyond what they appear to be on the surface. Make sure you tell your kids you love them and continue to show it to them every day.
3) "I am proud of you” - This phrase can be overused. How do I know? Because I’ve over used it. I would tell my son I was proud of him too often for actions that really did warrant that type of praise. Save this one for the right occasion: potty training, overcoming the fear of the dark and getting their driver's license. Maybe your kid might earn all of these in the same week!
4) "I am sorry” - This is another phrase that needs to be used only as directed. As parents we make mistakes. I’ve made at least two so far. That’s pretty good, right? Leading your kids by example is critical. Apologizing is a great way to show your kids how they need act, especially when you are not around. This does not mean you only apologize to your children. Let your children hear you apologize to your wife and anyone you encounter as a family. Also do not apologize to you children about things you cannot control. Don’t apologize that it is raining or that McDonald’s ice cream machine is not working… again. Say you are sorry to your children when it is really warranted.
5) "I forgive you” - We can’t stop our lessons to our kids at “I’m sorry.” Giving forgiveness is just as important as offering an apology. Teaching your kids to forgive early will only lower their anxiety levels and help them to dwell less on the past as they grow into adulthood. It is also vital for you as a parent to forgive your kids too so you don’t hold their mistakes against them.
Bonus: “God loves you” - This one is very important. We’ve already discussed how important it is as a father to tell your children you love them, but it is just as important to reaffirm that their heavenly father loves them too. Remind them that God’s love is free and unconditional. To help your children have a better understanding of God’s love and grace, they need to hear you talk about it at home. Not just one day a week at church.